A TRADE Act That Works For Everyone
June 18, 2009
Charleston, WV - Trade agreements have received a bad rap in recent years, with criticism focused on what's they've done to erode worker wages in this country and around the world. Congress is looking at updating trade deals, such as NAFTA, through the just-introduced "Trade Reform Accountability Development and Employment Act"(TRADE Act).
Larry Matheney, the secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, applauds the effort, saying the key problem with NAFTA and other agreements is that they ignore labor, environmental, human rights and product-safety issues for the sake of the bottom line for businesses.
"For too long, our trade policy has exploited not only workers, but it has betrayed families, it has destroyed communities, it has destroyed the environment, and it's just time for a trade policy that works for everyone."
The TRADE Act would reopen the old negotiations and include those issues in all future talks. Proposals like the TRADE Act have been attacked as protectionism that risks causing conflicts with our trading partners. That doesn't have to be the case, Matheney says, pointing out that the European Union puts nearly 10 times the tariffs on imports that the United States does, without sparking a trade war.
Broader issues could be included without hurting trade, Matheney adds.
"We would, in fact, repair the current trade system, and do it in a fashion that's good for workers, the environment and the whole economy of the world."