April 11, 2008
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a majority of House Democrats put the needs of America’s workers first by delaying consideration of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The House voted 224 to 195 to alter the “”fast track”” 90-day standard timeline for approval of trade deals negotiated by the administration until funding for domestic spending measures for America’s workers is made available—including funding to help workers who lose their jobs to international competition and an extension of unemployment benefits. House Democrats also vowed to review Colombia’s history of human rights violations, such as the killing of more than 2,500 workers and labor activists since 1991.
“”House Democrats did the right thing yesterday by standing with America’s workers,”” said Joseph T. Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). “”Trade agreements must be negotiated with the benefits of working people in mind, and the UFCW will continue to oppose any trade agreements that do not reflect the interests of America’s workers and their families.””
For too long, trade agreements with other countries have failed to protect the rights of workers in the United States and around the world. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada has contributed to the loss of approximately 3 million high-wage manufacturing jobs in the United States since 1994, and stagnated worker incomes and rising inequality have accelerated in all three countries. Trade with China has also harmed American interests, and the loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs to China has forced many American workers to work for substandard wages and benefits—further endangering our country’s economic stability.
While globalization cannot be turned back, the UFCW believes that the United States must get tougher in demanding a fair trading system that puts America’s workers first, and yesterday’s House vote to delay trade with Colombia is a good first step. The UFCW will continue to fight for trade reform so that America’s workers and their families are able to realize the American Dream.