UAW Calls on President Bush to Reject NAFTA as Model For Free Trade Area of the Americas

Apr 20, 2001, 01:00 ET from UAW

    DETROIT, April 20 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- UAW President
 Stephen P. Yokich today called on President Bush and the 33 other heads of
 state participating in the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City this weekend
 to reject NAFTA as the model for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas
 (FTAA).
     "The results from seven years of NAFTA are in, and it is clear that NAFTA
 has failed to deliver on its backers' promises that it would create good jobs,
 raise workers' living standards, and improve public health and the
 environment," Yokich said.
     "Hundreds of thousands of American, Canadian, and Mexican workers have
 lost their jobs as a direct result of NAFTA, and U.S. employers routinely use
 the threat of moving jobs to Mexico to kill union organizing drives or force
 workers to take concessions on wages and benefits," Yokich continued.
     "Employment in the maquiladora plants of northern Mexico has soared to
 over 1.3 million workers since NAFTA was adopted," Yokich noted.  "But Mexican
 workers have seen their real wages drop, poverty and inequality in their
 country worsen, and many of their cities and villages turn into environmental
 nightmares."
     "NAFTA's glaring failures have forced George W. Bush to try out a new
 sales pitch for the FTAA -- that free trade strengthens democratic values and
 democratic institutions," Yokich said, referring to President Bush's recent
 address to the Organization of American States.
     "But, while Bush won't admit it, the hard truth is that NAFTA has
 seriously weakened the ability of democratically-elected municipal, state,
 provincial, and national governments to protect the interests of their
 citizens," Yokich said, pointing to the investment section of NAFTA (Chapter
 11), which gives corporations (but not citizens) the right to directly sue
 governments.
     "Chapter 11 of NAFTA is an outrageous shift of power away from citizens
 and their governments to multinational corporations," he added.
     "We can expect to hear a lot of lofty rhetoric from President Bush this
 weekend about how a Free Trade Area of the Americas is essential to
 strengthening democracy in the Western Hemisphere," Yokich commented.  "But
 those words will ring hollow to the millions of workers, small farmers and
 businesspeople, students, environmentalists, human rights and religious
 activists, and other concerned citizens who have been denied a voice in the
 FTAA negotiations, as reflected in the complete absence of worker rights and
 environmental standards in the draft FTAA text."
     "The highest priority of President Bush and the other heads of state at
 the Summit of the Americas must be to develop a path of sustainable economic
 development that improves living standards and our environment while reducing
 economic inequality and poverty.  And that can only be done by putting the
 interests and rights of ordinary citizens first," Yokich said.
 
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SOURCE UAW
    DETROIT, April 20 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- UAW President
 Stephen P. Yokich today called on President Bush and the 33 other heads of
 state participating in the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City this weekend
 to reject NAFTA as the model for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas
 (FTAA).
     "The results from seven years of NAFTA are in, and it is clear that NAFTA
 has failed to deliver on its backers' promises that it would create good jobs,
 raise workers' living standards, and improve public health and the
 environment," Yokich said.
     "Hundreds of thousands of American, Canadian, and Mexican workers have
 lost their jobs as a direct result of NAFTA, and U.S. employers routinely use
 the threat of moving jobs to Mexico to kill union organizing drives or force
 workers to take concessions on wages and benefits," Yokich continued.
     "Employment in the maquiladora plants of northern Mexico has soared to
 over 1.3 million workers since NAFTA was adopted," Yokich noted.  "But Mexican
 workers have seen their real wages drop, poverty and inequality in their
 country worsen, and many of their cities and villages turn into environmental
 nightmares."
     "NAFTA's glaring failures have forced George W. Bush to try out a new
 sales pitch for the FTAA -- that free trade strengthens democratic values and
 democratic institutions," Yokich said, referring to President Bush's recent
 address to the Organization of American States.
     "But, while Bush won't admit it, the hard truth is that NAFTA has
 seriously weakened the ability of democratically-elected municipal, state,
 provincial, and national governments to protect the interests of their
 citizens," Yokich said, pointing to the investment section of NAFTA (Chapter
 11), which gives corporations (but not citizens) the right to directly sue
 governments.
     "Chapter 11 of NAFTA is an outrageous shift of power away from citizens
 and their governments to multinational corporations," he added.
     "We can expect to hear a lot of lofty rhetoric from President Bush this
 weekend about how a Free Trade Area of the Americas is essential to
 strengthening democracy in the Western Hemisphere," Yokich commented.  "But
 those words will ring hollow to the millions of workers, small farmers and
 businesspeople, students, environmentalists, human rights and religious
 activists, and other concerned citizens who have been denied a voice in the
 FTAA negotiations, as reflected in the complete absence of worker rights and
 environmental standards in the draft FTAA text."
     "The highest priority of President Bush and the other heads of state at
 the Summit of the Americas must be to develop a path of sustainable economic
 development that improves living standards and our environment while reducing
 economic inequality and poverty.  And that can only be done by putting the
 interests and rights of ordinary citizens first," Yokich said.
 
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 SOURCE  UAW