By on January 23, 2017

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Reactions are varied following this morning’s announcement that President Donald Trump will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and pull the country out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

North of the border, however, the leader of Canada’s Detroit Three autoworkers was apparently dancing a jig. Unifor president Jerry Dias seemed thrilled when he appeared on talk radio to sing the praises of the president’s executive actions. Trump’s moves are “a great opportunity to right the ship,” he said.

Dias, fresh from this past fall’s bruising Detroit Three contract talks — in which his bargaining team extracted key concessions from all three automakers — told 580 CFRA, “I’m celebrating.”

While Canada signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, its membership was never ratified. With the U.S. now abandoning the 12-member agreement in favor of bilateral trade talks with individual countries, TPP is effectively dead, and the always-endangered Canadian auto industry could gain some breathing room.

Labor unions, for the most part, never warmed to NAFTA, and TPP was viewed by many as a very, very bad thing for blue-collar jobs.

“We knew it was going to impact the auto parts industry and OEMs,” said Dias. “There’s no question we were going to take another hit.”

Under TPP, countries like Japan, which ship an enormous amount of vehicles to the U.S. and Canada, would have eventually seen tariffs on North America-bound cars and light trucks eliminated. Canadian-made vehicles, on the other hand, flow within North American borders. The thought of Canadian-made vehicles one day ending up in Malaysia or Chile is ridiculous, Dias said.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner will reportedly meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tomorrow. How the Canadian-American trade relationship will change is up for debate, though advisers to the PM have said it’s not something to worry about. Trump’s chief concern is low-cost Mexican facilities.

In a press conference this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that multi-national trade agreements resulted in the U.S. “negotiating at the lowest common denominator.” In bilateral deals, he said, countries that find themselves in disagreement can simply renegotiate.

Certainly, Dias isn’t worried about a renegotiated NAFTA. The union boss shares similar concerns about the decades-old agreement.

“Since 1999, Mexico has opened eight assembly plants,” Dias said, adding that the Canadian auto industry struggles to maintain its workforce. “It’s an example of how one country has benefited to the chagrin of the other two.”

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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38 Comments on “Canada’s Detroit Three Union Boss Seems Pretty Darned Pleased after Trump’s Trade News...”

  • avatar

    How could someone negotiate as well as he did, then be so shortsighted as to believe the first words that come out? Far too early to be happy, only when everything is renegotiated and finalized. And even then….

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Denver

      While the devil is in the details, TPP was not going to benefit the auto manufacturing sector in the high labor cost countries like Canada. If there was going to be free trade in autos/auto parts inside the TPP, that meant that places like Canada were going to be on the receiving end of imports. No one was going to build a new car factory in Canada so that they could export vehicles to Vietnam, only the other way ’round. So killing it is almost automatically helpful to the Canadian auto workers (if not consumers) – Dias is not stupid, as you say.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry I didn’t clarify. I meant the NAFTA part, not TPP which I totally understand.

        Zero added auto business from now forward for Canada while Trump is around, and I dare say any and all future new model changes and their parts support production will have an American plant stamped on them.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          I would expect free trade with Canada to continue regardless of what happens to NAFTA.

          • 0 avatar

            Agreed. This is about Mexico, with its labor costs and, er, people who are easier to scapegoat for some reason.

          • 0 avatar

            @Adam Tonge

            Why would you expect that? And don’t start in with facts. When it come to Trump, it appears that for every fact, there is an alternative fact.

            I think Canada needs to be very worried. And so does the US. Restricting trade is not going to be good for anyone.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Living in Michigan, and working in Macomb County most days, I completely understand why Trump did so well here. From 2000-2009, Michigan lost almost a million jobs. We lost more jobs than the US as a whole during that same period. Tier 1 suppliers moved almost all of their manufacturing jobs to Mexico/China/etc. They didn’t come back when the economy got better. People are mad about NAFTA and the prospects of the TPP.

            Charlie Leduff is pretty good at showing how a lot of people around here feel:


          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The Trump administration came out to day and said that they would be isolating Mexico when renegotiating NAFTA. They feel that trade with Canada is balanced.

          • 0 avatar

            I wouldn’t assume anything. If Trump is keen to kill NAFTA, Canada will only be collateral damage, nothing this Administration will worry about.

            Much as I understand how people who lost their jobs must feel, Trump is barking up the wrong tree with his assumption that NAFTA is to blame.

            Bureau of Labor Statistics date shows that US manufacturing output, in constant dollars, has virtually double since NAFTA was signed, and manufacturing’s share of GDP has remained constant. During the same period, though, the number of direct manufacturing jobs fell by about 1/3.

            A century ago, technology killed millions of jobs in agriculture, and more than replaced them with manufacturing jobs. In the last 20 years, technology has eliminated a large number of unskilled and low-skilled manufacturing jobs, while creating many more new jobs in IT and other services. This is evolution, and we can’t look to go backwards. People can be retrained, but jobs killed by technology are never coming back.

            Cancelling TPP is a strategic blunder of the first magnitude. It’s an enormous victory for China, which will now expand its influence throughout APAC, and a terrible defeat for US interests, as US influence will inevitably decline.

            The reality is that free-trade agreements generally benefit all participants, as NAFTA has. There are more winners from NAFTA than losers in each of the member countries – the problem is, we only ever hear from the losers, cuz that’s a better news story.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, who care about consumers? The entire purpose of industry is to provide jobs.

        Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Union households tilted less for Hillary in this election than at any time since 1980, despite the predictable endorsement by UAW management for her.

    If the Administration continues to make moves like this, it will be interesting to see how the UAW/Unifor respond politically over the next 4 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The rank and file really responded to Trump’s brand of populism. I don’t know if the Republicans can conjure that up in other candidates.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s been the message of Reps for the last 8 years, during which they’ve gone from 41 senators to 52, 178 representatives to 241, and from control of both houses of 8 state legislatures to control of 32. They haven’t been as in-your-face as Trump at those levels, but there was a strong populist anti-Washington message that Democrats haven’t learned to counter yet. A counter-argument better be found quickly, the Democratic Party hasn’t been so underrepresented since the 1920s.

        • 0 avatar

          @Lorenzo – Democrats have failed because of viewing a large influential swath of the electorate as “deplorables”. Trump reached out to that demographic emotionally. We all know that demographically they are uneducated (grade 12 or less) middle class, middle aged white males who live in smaller (50k or less) or rural communities. The left unfortunately never took the time to figure them out. Preliminary studies indicate that they feel that they are worse off now than previously and feel that minorities, foreigners and other groups are to blame for most of that. The truth is quite the opposite but that is what “they” feel. Clinton was the poster girl of status quo. Mark Baruth’s “Editorial” on the Woman’s march and many of the subsequent posts made by those on the right prove this statistic to correct.

          • 0 avatar

            Trump won white women 53-43.
            He won white college grads 49-45.

            Let’s not pretend is was just “uneducated” white men that gave him the victory.

            P.S. And since when is 13 years of school considered uneducated?

          • 0 avatar

            I wish I could read That “editorial” and the resultant posts but TTAC has deleted the whole thing. Was it THAT bad? Apparently so.

            The Democrats have all but relegated their party to the dustbin of History. Since 2008, the Democrat Party has lost a total of 1042 state and federal posts. The total includes Governors, state house seats, state senate seats, both houses of the US Congress and now the Presidency. There are now only 5 states with a Democrat Governor and Congress.

            The mid-term elections promise to be a continuation of that slide.

            It’s not about strategy. The Dems can strategize all they want. The problem is with their actual policies. The left does not appear headed towards figuring that out.

            They seemingly don’t realize that it’s all about what they’ve done with their power and the very real fear of what they will do if they continue to wield that power.

            Good Patriotic Americans put an end to those terrible Democrat policies and I have every reason to expect that it will stay that way for a very long time.

            It’s completely wrong to assert that poorly educated white people put President Trump into office. Good, honest American Working Patriots put him there. People who own businesses and the people who work for those businesses. Working American Patriots come in every color and every education level. We’re evident in every race and every shade of human color. We love our country and we voted in our best interests.

            And I’ll just add this to the Democrat Party’s woes. The “peaceful protests” that went on during the campaign season, and the protests we’ve seen on Inaugural Day and the weekend after have put a face on the whole party. It’s not a pretty face. Watching Democrats riot, loot and burn cars is showing the party for who they are. The Women’s march was despicable. Do you have to wear p hats, vag-collars and carry signs referring to your private parts to make a point about a President? A wall of feminine hygiene pads with filthy slogans written on them? Really? I cringe to think of my grandkids watching that filth on TV, but many of these women went so far as to take their kids to that event. Does that somehow prove that they’re smarter than everyone else?

            This is the face of the party the nation is seeing. It is not helpful for the Democrats and they almost certainly will pay for that during the next election.

          • 0 avatar

            As long as the Democratic Party is the party of Pelosi, Schumer, Boxer, Schiff, Clinton, and other insulated elitists (counterparts to GOPers such as Romney & Bloomberg), they will never be viable again (not given the socioeconomic trends in the U.S. and globally).

            The Democrats need people like the recently defeated Russ Feingold, the late Paul Wellstone, and centrists that are not insular, coastal elites, who are willing to stop too-big-to-fail (Obama killed the Democrats by listening to f*cking criminal, Goldman bag-boy Timmy Geithner and Eric Place-holder on that issue; systemically important my a$$hole) and reinstate rational, prudent and necessary statutes such as Glass-Steagall, if they are to stage a meaningful comeback.

            They’ve done the once-thought impossible; manage to appear more insulated, out of touch and caring-less about average Americans than the GOP.

          • 0 avatar

            Why the fascination with only white voters? Do you understand that you don’t have to be white for your vote to count?

            America is about to realize (yet again) that there is a profound difference between criticizing and leading. Now they own it. They own the Congress, the Supreme Court, the executive branch.

            OK. You hate Obamacare. Where is the alternative? You’ve had a while to work on it – we’re ready to see it.

            You dislike Middle East policy. Great. What should we do? Ally with Iran to fight ISIS effectively? Air blockade that risks dragging us into Syria? Eliminate any chance of Arabs ever trusting us to make peace by dragging the embassy to Jerusalem?

            You don’t like trade. OK, but how will we generate jobs if we exclude ourselves from the global economy?

            You claim to be leaders. So put down your phone and lead.

          • 0 avatar

            Why the fascination with only white voters? Do you understand that you don’t have to be white for your vote to count?”

            Read Lou_BC’s post. Then read mine.
            He brought up white voters and I commented on his post. There was nothing bad about my post.
            There really wasn’t any basis for a thinly veiled accusation of racism.

            Everyone Else,
            This culture war in the U.S. is raging and it’s not going away anytime soon.
            Some of you are blaming TTAC for allowing it to seep into here. But it is permeating all of society and TTAC is no exception. The only way to keep it out of here is massive post deletions and widespread bannings which TTAC obviously is resisting.
            Boss Mark and Company are aware of the volatile situation and(I’m sure) are doing the best they can to bring TTAC through to the other side relatively intact.
            (Has anyone considered that Bark’s article might have been a deliberate “pressure relief valve” to bleed off the political steam that’s regularly builds up in the comments sections?)
            So, B&B, what do you expect from the leaders of this website? More censorship? More bannings? More lectures? Do you want the editors to sift through every article and every comment, deleting anything remotely political? Or should they let the free-for-all continue until half of us have abandoned the site?
            It seems to me that they are in a no-win situation.

            Maybe the future of TTAC lies mostly in our hands.
            I honestly think so.
            Maybe those of us who comment really hold the power. Maybe it is up to us whether TTAC endures as a special place, or becomes just another of the thousands of places where left and right bicker like 9 year-olds.
            Maybe, with the help of the B&B, TTAC comes through the other side of this culture war still intact, still unique, still a place where more friendship are made than are broken.
            Because, let’s face it, a community that disintegrates in bad times is really no community at all.

            No one here knows me.
            I’ve never met any of you.
            But I’ve learned that some things in life are more special than others. And when you lose those things, a sadness descends, made heavier if mixed with regret.
            So, if TTAC has value to you personally …if it is special to any degree
            …I’m asking you
            Please back off the ideological attacks.
            Please don’t assign evil motives to other commentators.
            Please stay if you are considering leaving.
            Please come back if you have left.
            And when a discussion turns into a heated argument, then becomes bitter or personal, drop it…please. At that point there is no possibility of gain, only loss.

            TTAC should be not a store to boycott or a celebrity to ignore. It should not be a political platform for hate or for gloating.It only becomes those things if we make it so.
            We blame the manufacturers for building crappy cars. We blame the dealers for crappy sales environments.
            Well, B&B, oh wise critics of style, beauty and quality…who are we going to blame for our comments section becoming a shithole?
            There will be nobody to blame but ourselves.
            Let’s own it.
            Let’s improve the quality, beauty and style of our discourse.
            Let’s treat each other with respect and goodwill.

            “What is a wife and what is a harlot? What is a church and what is a theatre? are they two and not one? Can they exist separate? Are not religion and politics the same thing? Brotherhood is religion. O demonstrations of reason dividing families in cruelty and pride!”
            ___William Blake

          • 0 avatar

            Whittaker, a most excellent post.

          • 0 avatar

            Thanks ect
            It was a bit of a rant.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          They’ve done well in local elections. Kept the focus on the issues facing their districts while Democrats have lost touch with rural districts. States like Michigan have also been gerrymandered in the GOPs favor.

          The Trump message is what won MI and WI though. He campaigned so well here, and to the last hour. I don’t know if that gets replicated by someone else. Flipping Macomb County was an amazing feat. None of the other GOP candidates would have been able to do that.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ll say this, I don’t think anyone but the President could have pulled off what he pulled off. It is clear to me he had been planning for over a decade.

          • 0 avatar

            28-CL, Reince Priebus was the brains behind the strategy and tactics to achieve the win.

            The strategy was aimed at the “forgotten man and forgotten woman” in America, left behind by the architect of the “redistribution of America’s wealth.”

            The tactical aspect was to belittle and demean swamper opponents.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            It was an impressive political victory. Even Trump haters need to admit that.

          • 0 avatar

            @Adam Tonge – I do have to agree. The Trump campaign was brilliant in its targeted simplicity. He sold the brand to the disgruntled white folk who ate up all of the politically incorrect talk while making the liberals look down upon the “deplorables” and convinced the left that Trump was un-electable. Mind you, the fact that Hillary was as cute and cuddly as a rattle snake on acid contributed to the loss.

  • avatar

    Anyone who followed Trump’s campaign for more than six months wouldn’t be surprised by this news. Trump said on several occasions that Mexico is (essentially) a leech and detrimental to American workers but that Canada is a model neighbor. A neighbor that we should be doing more business with. He said this during a rally I attended on Long Island when Keystone XL was brought up during Q&A. I also attended two Hillary rally’s (Haverford & Scranton PA) and 1 Sanderson rally (Wash DC) and never heard anything mentioned regarding our relationship with Canada. Only time will tell but until then MAGA!

  • avatar

    >The thought of Canadian-made vehicles one day ending up in Malaysia or Chile is ridiculous, Dias said.

    Just last year, Alliston was going to ship CR-V’s to Europe. The reverse happened due to domestic demand, but Dias seems blind to the fact that both transplants in Ontario are cranking out good product.

  • avatar

    You will either pay higher prices or higher taxes to cover the cost to the safety net.
    I’d rather pay the higher prices.

  • avatar

    Somehow forgetting the Canada-US markets are mostly integrated now. Isolationism is always a short-term solution. Isolate the US market from foreign vehicles and watch the quality go down (but never the prices).

  • avatar

    Bark is no longer an editor at TTAC and has been stripped of the ‘editorial rights’ he claimed. He is now an “advice columnist.”

    Oh good. When TTAC readers need to know which Ford product projects douche strongest, they will now have a guide.


  • avatar

    “Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner will reportedly meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tomorrow.”

    Maybe the most significant line in the story. The only person I seem to hear about is Steve Bannon (because when the opposition paints the guy at the top as an idiot, they need an evil genius behind the scenes), but you can be sure the first two people who have the ear of the Prez are Ivanka and Kushner (both have been Dems BTW). And if you read that Forbes article you know the guy is a prodigy and had as much or more to do with Trump winning as anyone besides Trump himself.

    But meeting with a foreign leader this early in the game? Wow.

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