January 23rd, 2008
10:20 AM ET
6 years ago

Real People, Real Issues: The NAFTA effect

The CNN Election Express is headed across the country.
The CNN Election Express is headed across the country.

ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) – The cost of diesel was $3.26 a gallon Wednesday at the Pilot Travel Center, but the biggest concern for independent trucker Charles Dye wasn’t the price of fuel. It was NAFTA.

When Dye first got behind the wheel of his rig eight years ago, the 28-year-old said he grossed $180,000. Last year, Dye said he made $65,000 before expenses - barely enough to live on as he ran roofing oil between Memphis, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia. He is on the road 20 days a month.

Because he is an independent contractor, Dye has to purchase his own health insurance. Right now, he is not covered. Luckily, the mother of his four-year-old child does have insurance, which helps alleviate the financial burden.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, which loosened restrictions on goods and services between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, is to blame for the hit he is taking in the wallet, he said.

“It was hard for me to make a living last year other than the years before, because of the way they opened the borders and let the trucks come over and practically do work for nothing,” he said, as the gasoline flowed from the pump into his rig.

Dye wants the U.S. to restrict the number of Canadian and Mexican truckers from working in this country.

“They are cutting my throat to do my job for less pay,” he said.

Even though NAFTA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Dye said the former president’s wife Hillary Clinton or her rival Barack Obama will get his vote this fall. I pressed him: Why would he back Clinton when her husband signed NAFTA into law?

“I made more money, and I believe in a Democrat more than I do a Republican,” said Dye, who lives in Arkansas. “That’s just my opinion. President Bush hasn’t showed me anything.”

– CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Bloomber

    Has anyone heard Bloomberg's plan.... start infrastructure projects and open up the border to cheap labor. Ha! Ha! I guess we need to move north and south of our borders and come back in to qualify for one of these jobs!

    January 23, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Let it be known

    To Domingo,

    That is not true, a good friend who headed a team of computer programmers was making 80k a year for a major U.S. company in 1999. Than 1 by 1 the company replaced each of his team members with H1B people from India. After a few months he was the ONLY American left. The H1B people were paid only 25k a year. He was the next one to get his lay off.

    The corporations have abused the program and Clinton let it happen. Who is looking out for us?

    January 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Rebekah Murphy

    I think we're forgetting who benefits from cheaper distribution costs. Perhaps Charles needs to be more competitive and stop expecting protection and business for a product or service that someone else can offer at a lower price for an equal quality. Why should I pay a premium on every product I buy so that a 28 year old truck driver can make $180,000 a year?

    January 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. AJ, IL

    Hopefully Obama can successfully tie Hillary to Bill Clinton's NAFTA. Hillary was a strong supporter of NAFTA when Bill Clinton signed the agreement. But now she has flip-flopped again as she did on her Iraq War vote as well as her vote for the Bankruptcy bill. There is nothing wrong with free trade as long as American workers and foreign workers are put on an equal playing field.

    Obama in '08!

    January 23, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. share

    RELIVE THE GOOD 90'S YEARS SOON WITH HILLARY AS PRESIDENT AND STOP THE PANICKING. ****SURPLUS****

    January 23, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    People you've got to remember that NAFTA and CAFTA go back when the first President Bush and Bob Dole in office the republican was in charge of congress. yes Preisdent Clinton sign the bil but it was back by a republican congress, we forget to soon

    January 23, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. AJ, IL

    America does not push as strong a math and science initiative as it should as well as have good incentives for going into these fields. Case in point, many more people head in the legal profession because of it's potential lucrative pay. Also we have a good amount of Americans unemployed. With the proper training and mentoring some of these folks could be skilled technicians. When you think about all the funding that has (and still is) going to fund the war in Iraq, America could have created more jobs in the US by investing in America.

    January 23, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. Mary

    Hey Anonymous!
    CNN was known as "The Clinton News Network". They use to flaunt all over the Clintons. Maybe CNN finally saw the Clintons for who they truly are. Anyone is
    better than the Hilda Beast & Bubba. :-)

    January 23, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Kevin

    I'm sorry Mr. Dye is hurt by the new competition opened up by NAFTA, but no candidate is going solve his problems by doing away with the agreement or modifying it to a degree significant enough to directly impact him.

    Mr. Dye is bearing the brunt of the negative aspects of the free-trade agreement, but NAFTA's merits–lower prices, access to cheaper labor, greater economic cooperation between US and Mexico (and Canada)–will provide benefits far into the future for all Americans, even Mr. Dye. That's little consolation for a person whose income is dropping annually, but it's true.

    January 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. Attacks by the Establishment on Ron Paul Continue

    Ron Paul has tried for years to tell the establishment not to increase the size of government and take over the private sector particularly when it concerns the economy!

    If you want just plain old minor changes to meaningless policies then vote for the establishment but if you want to turn this country around 180 degrees and on top of its socialist and communist head then vote for Ron Paul!

    Ron Paul has the answers for the central government. Get out of the way of the people!

    January 23, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. B ... NY

    Are the truck drivers from other countries required to carry the same insurance truck drivers from the USA are required. Also, I think the trucks from other countries are not required to support the same emissions standards that trucks in the USA are required. If trucks from other countries are allowed into this country, then they should have to meet the same requirements;

    January 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. John Lambrechts

    Get rid of NAFTA AND CAFTA and tell your representatives to really understand what free trade is! Ron Paul is the only one who understands the unintended consequences.

    January 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. JM

    Lawana Davis asked the question: "Why isn't our military on our borders?"

    The answer: They're in Iraq.

    The national guard is guarding the wrong nation. They should be guarding the U.S., not stuck in Iraq.

    January 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. TruthTelling

    Hillary Clinton salivates about fighting with the Republicans. She brags about waiting for them to attack her. That's an opinion based in fact.

    With that said, how can anyone recognize the ineffectiveness of our government due to insane partisan bickering and believe that Hillary Clinton will be able to get anything done as POTUS with her mentality of demonizing Republicans? How in the world will she be able to carry Democrats in Congressional races across the country in to office with her brand of polarizing politics?

    Wake up! Democrats can not win the WH with just Democrats and Hillary's rhetoric proves that we will see a continuation of the same type of "politics as usual" from not only the last 8 years, but the wars and hyper-distrust from the 90's if she is elected. Where's the attraction in that for Independents and Republicans disillusioned with their own party?

    Obama offers the best hope to lead a unification of our country around healing our many divisions, achieving the big goals needed to move our nation forward domestically and internationally, and he has the proven legislative record and campaign success to show that he can draw Independents and Republicans to join in that goal.

    Cynicism is not the answer, nor is hardened loyalty that diminishes if not outright ignores reality. We need that "working coalition" or else we'll sink deeper in to the depressive malaise that has effectively paralyzed our once great American spirit.

    January 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Monika

    To: Let it be known

    Domingo is right. As apart of the H1B process the compnay has to pay the sponsored foreigner a market salary. It's the law. This means your friend was lying about the 25K/year indians to hide the fact that he lost his job solely own incompetence.

    I have several friends who are her on H1B – all making $100+.

    January 23, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  16. beano

    Perhaps You should start looking for a job.Eventually you will when they knock at your door with a pay cut or loss of your job.Have you heard of the ripple effect?

    January 23, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Chaunda,IN

    In her time in the Senate Hillary Clinton has more than proved she can/ will work with Republicans. Lets talk about that not about 15 years ago. I certainly wasn't the same person 16 years ago and I do not plan to be the same person 16 years from now.

    January 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. Cheryl Fontaine

    We need to get rid of NAFTA and its great enabler, BUSH, now! We need American jobs back in America. Let's offshore Bush – hell, America is being run by China, India, and other foreign interests anyway, why have an American president we have to support for the rest of his worthless life?

    January 23, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. James Brown ( Independent )

    I live in Oregon and saw mills were the main industry in this state for many many years. They were already in trouble from the spotted owl thing , but NAFTA came along and pretty much wiped out the industry.

    The last thing this country needs is another Clinton White House , they have shamed this country enough.

    January 23, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Matt Simpson

    "barely enough to live on as he ran roofing oil between Memphis, Tennessee and Savannah, Georgia..."

    So tell me how many Mexican and Canadian truckers is this NAFTA expert, Charles Dye, competing against? If there are Mexican or Canadian trucks driving between Memphis and Savannah, I would suspect they are illegal immigrants, not employees of foreign companies.

    So get your rants & hates straight. NAFTA has much more impact on good & services that cross the US border. It has very little impact on interstate commerce.

    I suspect if he was making $180k a year doing the same thing 8 years ago what has happened is that someone else figured out what an outrageous amount he was charging and came in and undercut his price. A gross income of $180k for driving a truck is pretty nice pay. There will be lots of competition for that job.

    And CNN, thanks for providing such expert, insightful reporting backed up by strong research. You are truly a pillar of journalistic strength.

    January 23, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Bob, San Francisco, CA

    It's a sign of intellectual laziness to blame everything on Democrats, Republicans, or the Clintons. The economic plight our country is facing is due to decades of selling out our industries to other countries so we can become a nation of consumers.
    The strong America that won WW2 is not the same pathetic nation today where our industrial might has turned into dependency. Look at all of the ghost towns across the US that were once thriving factory towns. People used to be able to work hard and achieve the American dream; now, most of us fear losing our jobs and meager benefits.

    We have political hopefuls on both sides pandering to the lowest minds to win their votes. Wave the flag and a bible and a gun to get votes. Who cares what you'll do to really help the country's economy and our tarnished reputation of good will. The world despises us.

    Those blindly following partisan rhetoric on either side are fools. It sickens me to see so many stupid comments on the Ticker that have no thought behind them outside of the usual name-calling formerly found on the playground.

    America gets what it deserves.

    January 23, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. John

    What about all the American jobs that are lost to be sent oversee's, China, India and Mexico although it is not oversea's.

    Company's will get rid of an engineer in the States and hire 12 or more people in China to take there place.

    In China the going rate of pay is $7 dollars an hour and all the rice you can eat.
    You also get free Doctor Care and a place to stay, if you sign a 3 year contract.

    After 3 years they go across the street to another company and get a $.50 rper hour raise

    On top of all of this I believe there education is paid for!!!!!!!!!!

    I have not seen were this actually helps are speeds up work flow, most ofou the time the work they do has to be redone!

    There has to de some sort of balance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What do you try to gets your kids to want to study in college, if you see jobs being moved some where else out of the country with no end in sight???????????

    January 23, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. sharon walker

    Dear Friends:

    A M E N !!!!!! RESTRICT THE CANADIAN AND MEXICAN TRUCK DRIVERS,
    BUY USA MADE, HELP CREATE JOBS, REBUILD, RESTORE AND PUT IN SOLAR, WE WILL STILL NEED OIL, QUALITY NOT JUST QUANTITY,
    BRING AMERICA HOME BOYS AND THE BOYS AND GIRLS BACK TO THE USA AND PROTECT OUR BORDERS. THERE IS NOT ONE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNER THAT WANTS WAR. BUT WE ARE BEING INVADED BY FOREIGN NATIONALS.

    NAFTA WHY ARE THE FOREIGN NATIONALS NOT EXPECTED TO SHOW MORE ID THAN WE WHEN THEY CROSS OUR BORDERS IN PLANES, AUTOS, TRUCKS ETC. FLY BOYS, AND GAME AND GYM BOYS THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT. BRING IT HOME AND SAVE THIS NATION. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN.

    INVEST AND RESTORE AND MAKE OUR FARM AND RANCHES SAFE THEY HAVE BEEN INVADING THEM FOR DECADES AND OUR SCHOOLS AND OUR SOCIAL PROGRAMS. GOD HELP US.

    January 23, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Sherry

    Don't hate the player...hate the game!!!

    HILLARY 08

    January 23, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Tom Wittmann

    NAFTA brought Latinamerican exports but even more imports. Therefore the
    complaints about the former are absurd

    But China with labor conditions ten time worse as mexico's inundate US market
    without importing even a fraction of their value

    WHY I SEE NO a very few COMPLAINTS ???

    January 23, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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