October 4, 2011
By Richard L. Trumka, AFL-CIO President
Millions of people who are ready, willing and able to work are unemployed or underemployed. But instead of focusing on job creation, Congress is getting ready to take up unfair, job off-shoring trade deals.
With more than 25 million people desperately searching for full-time jobs, the last thing our leaders should focus on is these unfair trade deals. It’s the wrong thing to do, and it’s a huge distraction from our jobs crisis.
Here’s why the three pending trade agreements are a bad deal for working families:
• The Korea agreement is the biggest trade deal since NAFTA. It would displace an estimated 159,000 net U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing.
• Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. So how can we reward it with a free trade agreement? In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia —more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed, despite Colombia’s heralded “Labor Action Plan.” Would we reward a country where 51 CEO’s were killed last year?
• And Panama, with a history of failing to protect workers’ rights, is known as a tax haven for money launderers and tax dodgers.
Past trade deals like NAFTA have been miserable failures for working people and these new deals follow in NAFTA’s footsteps.