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September 07, 2007

Big Biz: Labor Rights are "Pretty Nuts"

In case you were worried that the Deathstar Labor standards were enforceable, once again big business sets it straight. Here's from Inside U.S. Trade:

Randy Johnson, U.S. Chamber vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits, on Aug. 28 said the Chamber was “uncomfortable with, but bought into” the May 10 compromise incorporating the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labor Organization (ILO) into trade agreements...

He said the Chamber is opposed to going beyond the ILO principles to also include the ILO conventions in FTAs, or inserting in FTAs an enforcement mechanism in the U.S. for ILO conventions. “We’ve gone as far as we’re going to go,” he said, calling the ILO a “crazy place,” some of whose ideas are “pretty nuts.”

For a little more background into the distinction between the conventions and the declaration, and why a lot of folks are calling for the former, see Human Rights Watch's short and sweet report from June (PDF).

The same article also said that the Chamber wants to expand "NAFTA into the Free Trade Area of the Americas, 'if for no other reason to send a message around the world that we’re not going to let everybody else in the world come in and take over the Americas.' Donohue noted that other countries are signing FTAs in Latin America." Good to know the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well!

Finally, a separate article in IUT noted that:

In a related event, two Peruvian labor unions in an Aug. 20 letter to members of Congress said that the U.S. and Peru would have to go further than they appear willing to do in order to achieve real reform.

The letter, signed by leaders from the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores del Peru and the Confederacion General de Trabajadores del Peru, argues that the labor deal struck between the U.S. and Peru is insufficient because new labor obligations refer only to the 1998 Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labor Organization, but not the eight specific ILO conventions on fundamental labor rights.

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