PITTSBURGH, Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today criticized the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama as another attack on American workers at a time when the economy is struggling and unemployment remains unacceptably high.
"Historically, these agreements have closed American manufacturing facilities and cost American jobs," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "It is foolish to think that this latest round will do something different. Success should be measured by the jobs that are created, not the number of agreements that are enacted. There are more USW-member jobs in the auto supply chain than jobs in the entire auto assembly sector and the Korea FTA's weak domestic content provisions will cause that U.S. job sector great harm."
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was promoted as a job creator when it was negotiated in 1992 and signed into law in 1994. But according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), nearly 900,000 U.S. jobs were lost to NAFTA in the period between 1993 and 2002 alone. In addition, the agricultural provisions of NAFTA cost more than 1 million Mexican farmers their land and livelihood.
Our trade deal with China was supposed to produce a one billion dollar surplus, but instead we have a $250 billion plus deficit. Swift action in the House and signature by the President of the Senate-passed Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 (S. 1619) will do far more to create jobs in the U.S. than these free trade agreements
The problems with the Colombia FTA go far beyond the American jobs that will be lost. Colombia, with some 170,000 murders of human rights activists, unionists and religious leaders and in the last 15 years, remains, despite government claims to the contrary, the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist. So far this year, 23 unionists have been killed following more than 50 in 2010.
The U.S.-Panama FTA continues the failed approach of the past and rewards that country even though it has failed to prove that it will respect labor rights and will aggressively act to eliminate its long history as a tax haven and center for money-laundering.
"Free trade has yet to work as promised and it will not suddenly work now," said Gerard. "It will further devastate our manufacturing base and destroy good paying American jobs."
The USW represents 850,000 members in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It is the largest private sector union in North America, representing workers in a wide range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, plus office, technical and service workers in health care, security, hotels and municipal governments and agencies.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)