AFL-CIO Oct. 4th Call-In Day Against Free Trade Pacts

The following alert was originally drafted by the AFL-CIO. Please see the action component below.

Your representative in Congress is considering three dangerous new free trade agreements, with Colombia, Korea and Panama. With more than 25 million Americans desperately searching for full-time jobs, the last thing our leaders should focus on is trade deals that are unlikely to create jobs or help working families.


  • The Korea FTA is the biggest trade deal since NAFTA. It would displace an estimated 159,000 net U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing.
  • How can we reward Colombia, the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists, with a free trade agreement? In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia—more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed, despite Colombia’s heralded “Labor Action Plan.” Would we reward a country where 51 CEOs were killed last year?
  • Panama, with a history of failing to protect workers’ rights, is known as a tax haven for money launderers and tax dodgers.

America has a jobs crisis that Congress should address immediately, starting with passage of President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act. Tell your representative in Congress to get to work for working families—don’t reward job exporters, governments that fail to protect workers and tax dodgers.

Mark your calendars! On Tuesday, Oct. 4, join the national call-in day to tell your U.S. representative to STOP these trade deals. CALL 800-718-1008 You can use the talking points below.

General Trade Talking Points
AFL-CIO Trade Lobby Day―Oct. 4, 2011

  • We applaud the president’s effort to shift the national conversation to the most important issue of our time―jobs. We believe that the president’s plan, which calls for immediate infrastructure investments and unemployment extensions for the jobless, is an important first step to getting Americans back to work.
  • But we strongly disagree with the Obama administration’s plans to move forward with the proposed trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama.
  • When our economy is desperately gasping for jobs, the last thing our leaders should focus on is trade deals that are unlikely to create jobs or help working Americans.
  • All three agreements were negotiated originally by then-President George W. Bush, and President Obama once said they were antiquated and didn’t meet the needs of our country. Nothing has changed. These agreements are still the wrong policy, putting corporations over people and profit over prosperity.
  • In the past, politicians and corporate lobbyists have promised that new trade agreements would lead to job creation and greater prosperity for our country. Working people know from experience that those claims are overstated and unreliable.
  • What we have experienced, as we have signed new trade agreements, is a devastation of our manufacturing sector, more outsourcing of service-sector jobs and a growing trade deficit that leaves us more and more in debt to the rest of the world.
  • We have strong reservations and concerns around each of the proposed agreements:
  1. Korea: The Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is the largest and most economically significant trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Economic Policy Institute estimates the growing trade imbalances associated with the Korea FTA would displace some 159,000 net U.S. jobs―mostly in manufacturing. Its low domestic content requirement for goods and existing problems with transshipment from China also mean that many of the deal’s economic benefits could go to China―which is not a party to the agreement.
  2. Colombia: Colombians who try to organize to lift their families out of grinding poverty are often murdered with impunity. According to international studies, Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world for trade unionists. In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia, an increase over 2009 and more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed―and 15 since the much-heralded announcement of the “Labor Action Plan.” Would we do a trade agreement with a country in which 51 CEOs were killed last year?
  3. Panama: Panama has a history of failing to protect workers and enforce labor rights. Panama is known as a “tax haven,” with a history of attracting money launderers and tax dodgers. Only time will tell if the Tax Information Exchange Treaty that Panama recently signed makes a real difference and helps the United States collect the taxes that are due.
  • Separately, we view Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) as essential for working people who have lost their jobs and are working hard to gain new skills and transition to new work. That doesn’t mean that passing more bad trade deals is the answer to fixing our economy. TAA should be renewed on its own merits―no matter what happens with the pending trade deals.  Regardless of whether TAA is renewed, we will continue to oppose trade deals like these that don’t strengthen the middle class or put working people first.
  • To really create jobs and promote exports, Congress should focus on addressing currency manipulation and investing in infrastructure by passing the President’s jobs bill.