Ironworkers union chief ‘cautiously optimistic’ over Trump’s Mexico agreement

The president of a major infrastructure union said he’s keeping an open mind about President Trump’s preliminary agreement with Mexico that could potentially replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“The tone and rhetoric sound good as I said I’ll wait to see what the final outcome is – I’m cautiously optimistic,” Eric Dean, president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers union, told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on Wednesday.

“If it creates more domestic construction jobs for our members, then we’ll be in favor for it,” the former steelworker added.

The union did not endorse Donald Trump during the 2016 election, but the vote was split among members, Dean said.

Dean told Hill.TV that the idea of revising NATFA on the whole is promising, saying the labor movement never really embraced NAFTA because there wasn’t enough worker protections.

“We’re for fair trade, not free trade,” he told Hill.TV.

President Trump announced on Monday a new trade agreement with Mexico during a televised phone call with outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

During the announcement, Trump declared he would rename NAFTA and call it the United States-Mexico agreement.

Under this preliminary agreement, 75 percent of car parts must come from the U.S., and it also calls for more local steel and aluminum use.

Trump also cast doubt over whether Canada would join, but put pressure on the country and said he’d make a deal with the country “one way or another.”

But Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Wednesday that officials are “optimistic” about trade talks this week.

The Ironworkers union also represents members in Canada, which has not agreed yet to the terms of a new deal with Trump.

— Tess Bonn