Hoffa Applauds Lawmakers for Raising Important Concerns About Colombia

Mar 23, 2011, 18:19 ET from International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Standards Should Measure Improvements Before Trade Deal Is Considered

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa thanked key lawmakers today for carefully documenting continuing violence against trade unionists in Colombia and raising concerns about the country's weak labor laws.

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Reps. Jim McGovern, George Miller, Rosa DeLauro, Mike Michaud, Jan Schakowsky and Linda Sanchez signed a letter last week to the White House raising their concerns about Colombia's dire labor and human rights abuses.

"The letter makes clear that significant, sustained changes in conditions in Colombia must occur before congressional consideration of any trade pact would be acceptable or appropriate," Hoffa said.

Since President Bush signed the Colombia trade deal in 2007, neither the previous nor current Colombian government has brought the country's labor laws into compliance with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards. Since the deal was signed, nearly 200 trade unionists have been murdered. Further, the rate of prosecution for murders and violence against unionists and other rights defenders remains pathetically low. 

"This letter should make clear to Republican congressional leaders who are pressuring President Obama for urgent action that there are specific, objective and reasonable standards to measure promised improvements in the conditions for labor and other rights defenders in Colombia," Hoffa said.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.Teamster.org.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters