PITTSBURGH, May 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement today after the U.S. Senate voted to limit debate on fast track trade negotiating authority, then approved the final measure by a vote of 62 to 37.
"Senators who voted to stifle debate and approve fast track so quickly have undermined rights of working Americans. With less than one full day of debate, and refusing to consider hundreds of important amendments, the Senate essentially took a big step to provide this and future presidents with the authority to negotiate trade agreements any way they choose. In addition, Congress abdicated its responsibility to fully engage in the process.
"Republicans in so many areas have criticized the President but, when it comes to trade, the majority of them are beholden to corporate backers who are salivating at the prospect of increased profits at the expense of workers here in America and around the globe.
"Trade deals like NAFTA have constricted economic growth, contributing to stagnating and declining wages, while fueling offshoring and outsourcing of production. All of this contributes to our country's rising income inequality. But, rather than fully debate those issues and provide effective measures to reform and update our trade policies, the Republican-led Senate shoved fast track through the Senate.
"Unfortunately, a handful of Democrats joined with Republicans in this effort. The majority of their Democratic colleagues voted on behalf of U.S. workers. Those who voted for cloture and for final passage fully share the blame.
"The approach taken by the Senate will damage U.S. production and jobs. No one voting for fast track should laud this bill. More than 150 objectives were included in fast track, but the administration has already said that they do not intend to pursue all of them. Senators who voted yes may try and take cover behind the lofty rhetoric, but the substance gives them nowhere to hide. Workers want good jobs and wages, not more false promises.
"This is a sad day. Americans expected their Senate to have a full debate about what our future trade policies should look like. What they got instead was an abbreviated debate designed to stifle dissent and discussion. Senators voting for cloture and for passage made it clear that they believe the status quo is good enough. The facts prove otherwise, and, at election time, voters will remember who was on their side and who voted to sell them out."
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed among industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, plus the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)