The membership of United Aerospace Workers (UAW) Local 887 is gravely concerned about possible passage later this year of the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). We feel this measure (if approved as written) would create economic havoc in California--especially in our state's already depressed aerospace industry.
Our state's economy is currently in a very perilous condition. Approval of NAFTA would do little more than open the floodgates for California's remaining aerospace industry to close their gates, lay off or displace possibly hundreds of thousands of workers, and move still more machinery, technology and decent-paying jobs to Mexico. In recent months, over 68,000 heavy-industry manufacturing jobs in California have already fled either south of the U.S. border or to low-wage states in this country.
If NAFTA is passed, it sends a signal to U.S. manufacturers they are free to vanish from our economy and do as they will--anywhere they choose. California's aerospace industry will be further encouraged to line their pockets at our expense by heading to Mexico or elsewhere. Does California really need that? Must we add fuel to a fire already raging out of control?
NAFTA is nothing more than a very bad deal for America's and California's workers. It needs to be killed and buried if our nation's economy is to survive and--hopefully--recover.
E. J. SCHALES, President
UAW Local 887
Jane Harman ("Not This Treaty, and Not Now," Commentary, Aug. 2) fails to recognize that NAFTA, which creates a free trade area with California's second and third largest trading partners, is an integral part of the state's transition from a defense-based economy to an export-based economy.
Now is exactly the time to implement a trade agreement that will dramatically lower Mexican trade barriers, giving California businesses unprecedented access to the rapidly growing Mexican market. The California economy has undergone incredible strains as defense spending has been reduced, and the additional $127 billion defense cut proposed by President Clinton is certain to close more bases and throw tens of thousands of Californians out of work. As we cut defense spending, NAFTA represents one of the very best growth policies for California's economy.
Exports to Mexico and Canada have been a bright spot in the weak California economy. Exports from California to Mexico have grown from $2.3 billion to $6.6 billion in just five years, and increased exports to Mexico and Canada have created 179,500 new jobs in California. California Office of Planning and Research officials estimate that without the growth of exports to NAFTA countries, the recession would have created 50% higher unemployment in California's manufacturing industries! They also estimate that NAFTA will create an additional 40,000 new jobs--which will be needed as California adjusts to Clinton's defense budget cuts.
REP. DAVID DREIER
Pat Buchanan's Column Right (Aug. 10) on NAFTA has helped me to decide I am for this agreement. While it is a complicated economic and social issue, if Buchanan is opposed to it along with all the other issues about which his mind is closed, I am for it in the interest of keeping an open mind about our changing world.