Workers Oppose Bush-Congress Trade Deal
The following is a statement by Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win:
WASHINGTON DC -- “On behalf of the six million members of Change to Win unions and its Leadership Council, we are disappointed that House Democratic leaders joined with the Bush Administration yesterday to announce a trade deal that is more free than fair.
The agreement does not represent the basis for the type of new U.S. trade policy that this nation desperately needs. Despite improvements in labor and environmental standards, workers remain at risk because the proposal fails to address how to protect U.S. jobs or create new ones. It undermines our prevailing wage and Buy America laws. And it hands foreign firms operating here more privileges over U.S. companies. For working America, that is not a deal.
Quick policy fixes won’t help workers achieve the American Dream in the 21st century– they need a whole new trade model equipped to meet the realities of today’s global economy.
Without significant changes, this agreement opens the door for subsequent harmful trade policies that resemble NAFTA/CAFTA – trade deals that have led to the loss of millions of good jobs at home, a surge in undocumented immigration, the soaring trade deficit, declining wages, and a deterioration of labor standards.
Change to Win stands for fair trade that promotes prosperity at home and abroad so that workers can achieve the American Dream in an era of globalization. Fair trade helps create standards that will stimulate development, protect and create new U.S. jobs, and maintain high wage standards around the globe – the Peru/Panama trade agreement falls far short of this.
It’s time for an alternative approach to this current failed model. We call on Congress to get back to work craft meaningful policies in current and future trade negotiations. We need to ensure that workers, not just corporations and CEOs, fairly share in the benefits of today’s global economy.”
About Change to Win
Seven unions and six million workers united in Change to Win to build a new movement of working people equipped to meet the challenges of the global economy and restore the American Dream in the 21st century: a paycheck that can support a family, affordable health care, a secure retirement and dignity on the job. The seven partner unions are: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Service Employees International Union, UNITE HERE, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, United Farm Workers of America, and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Not the Way Forward on Trade
Advocates for better trade policy cry fowl as the Democratic Leadership Announces a Secret Deal with Bush
A new direction in trade doesn't start in the back room. This is the sentiment being shared among many as Democratic leaders today announced a secret "agreement" to put through several Bush negotiated trade agreements. Faith communities, health advocates, labor groups, environmentalists, and human rights activists are demanding a much more substantive change in direction from Democrats and an end to back-rooms deals.
On a day when advocates and most democrats were cut out of
the secret negotiations, many called the process undemocratic and flawed and
wondered how so many Democrats, elected to change the direction of US trade
policy, could be left out. While the text of the deal has not been made
public, many were already questioning why the Democrats would make a deal on
Bush's trade agreements without more substantive changes on labor, agriculture,
investment, the environment, health, and other areas.
Below are the sentiments of several key leaders from the US and Latin America:
PUTTING BIG BUSINESS OVER CORE CONSTITUENTS
"By making a deal with President Bush the Democratic leadership divided their own party and their key supporters in one fell swoop. The people most pleased with this agreement are the members of the Business Round Table International Trade and Investment Task Force."
"The indigenous people of Colombia are extremely concerned about this news given that the Free Trade Agreements signify for us a huge step backwards in respecting our fundamental human rights. There are no changes that can make the US-Colombia Free Trade agreement better because there is a government whose officials are linked to massive human rights violations."
—National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC)
"International trade rules which protect the rights and livelihoods of people and sustain the environment are needed as part of the solution to global poverty. A deal that falls short of these standards is unacceptable."
—Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church, (USA)
AIDS, HEALTH & STUDENT LOANS
"I'm really worried that my representative, Speaker Pelosi, is brokering deals on free trade agreements that would restrict access to AIDS drugs when meanwhile they haven't even succeeded in making the student loan bill into law. I would hope that she'd put corporate interests on hold and instead work on getting people in Peru, Panama, Columbia, South Korea and the US access to health care and helping us pay for college."
—Will Nevius, San Francisco Voter, Willamette College Student, and National Steering Committee Member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign
"I haven't seen the final text of this deal, but I understand that the problem with the Social Security provisions in the Peru FTA haven't been fixed. In Peru, our social security system has undergone a failed privatization, and the U.S. company Citigroup is one of the investors that has benefited. We are worried that the trade agreement will make it difficult for us fix our broken social security system, and we would hope that the Democrats in the US Congress who defended the social security system in the United States will vote against the U.S.-Peru Free Trade agreement."
—Javier Mujica, Director of the Human Rights Program, Center for Labor Assistance in Peru (CEDAL)