Californians Fight Back on Job-Killing Free Trade Agreements

Activists from around California are fighting back against three NAFTA-style Free Trade Agreements introduced in Congress on Monday. The deals, originally negotiated by President Bush in 2007, have drawn the ire of voters across party lines because they will cost U.S. jobs and challenge labor and environmental conditions in the U.S. and abroad.

The deals, with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, are expected to have a vote in Congress within a week, but Californians are the key to stopping them, and they're standing up. Led by the California Labor Federation and the California Fair Trade Coalition, thousands of voters from around the state have already called their Members of Congress and thousands more are likely to do so over the next several days. This final reminder to undecided Members of Congress will help swing them against these job-killing deals.

You can join them now by calling 1-800-718-1008.

Each deal has its own set of problems, but one thing's certain — these deals will cost Americans jobs. The U.S. International Trade Commission has long said these deals will increase the U.S. trade deficit overall, particularly in important California industries such as such as electronic equipment; auto and auto parts; metal and ironwork; and textiles and apparel. Using these numbers, the Economic Policy Institute found that over 200,000 jobs would be lost.

But there's more. Here are key facts from the AFL-CIO:

  • The Korea agreement is the largest offshoring deal of its kind since NAFTA. If enacted, it likely will displace 159,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. And its glaring loopholes would allow unscrupulous businesses to import illegally labeled goods from China and possibly even from sweatshops in North Korea – potentially without any tariffs at all.
  • In Colombia, one trade unionist is murdered almost every week and almost none of the murderers is brought to justice. 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 CEOs were killed last year?
  • And the Panama agreement has many of the problems of the other two deals, like deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety, labor and environmental laws. Panama is also a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.

This is the largest package of FTAs since NAFTA and time is running out to stop them. But with unemployment near record highs, the long history of job loss through NAFTA and similar deals, and the governments own projections of job loss, it is critical that everyone take a stand today.

Fortunately, these deals still face a tough test as many in Congress have vowed to oppose the deals, and Californians have access to many of the undecided representatives – all they need to do is call. We've seen NAFTA-style trade shutter our factories and offshore our jobs, it's time to reverse this course before there are no more jobs left to lose.

Please call 1-800-718-1008 today.