(National Sentinel) Seal of Approval: The United Steelworkers union is praising the Trump administration’s new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada because they say it contains strong labor protections.

In fact, the union says, the new United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) has stronger protections than did the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) it may soon replace or the Trans-Pacific Partnership POTUS Trump rejected early in his presidency.

“In the area of workers’ rights, the draft text we have seen includes significant improvements over the existing NAFTA and is stronger than the rejected Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It goes farther than any prior trade agreement,” United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard said in a statement.

That undercuts critics’ claims that the new USMCA isn’t much different than NAFTA. In fact, those with “skin in the game” are faring better.

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Gerard also sang the praises of POTUS Trump’s economic team.

“The USW and other labor groups have worked closely with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer since the United States initiated renegotiation of NAFTA. Labor has provided concrete and specific recommendations. Ambassador Lighthizer has worked diligently and seriously to resolve these issues,” Gerard said.

Now, the labor chief added, enforcement must be done moving forward. That means if Congress approves the new deal, which could come next year, all U.S. administrations moving forward will have to adopt and keep the same “America First” mindset the president maintains.

“The impact of the deal must be measured not only by what is in the final agreement, but also by what Mexico adopts legislatively to implement its commitments,” Gerard wrote. “Also, what will the Trump Administration and Congress do to ensure that the provisions of any final agreement are effectively applied, monitored and enforced? Strong text in an agreement backed up by legislative changes in Mexico will only matter if they are fully and faithfully enforced.

“It is vital to understand that this debate is not about free trade, protectionism or ivory-tower academic arguments. It is about what will happen to real people. NAFTA’s long-term impact has been devastating, and reforms are sorely needed,” he added.

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