Three so-called free trade agreements left over from the Bush Administration (South Korea, Columbia and Panama) are on the verge of being brought to the floor of the House of Representatives. Republicans are likely to fall all over themselves to approve these three trade pacts.
Under that failed trade pact model our country has suffered the loss of more than 5 million good, family-supporting manufacturing jobs and seen the destruction of whole communities where factories once fueled the economy. NAFTA-type trade policy has kept our real median wages down to 1973 levels, and eroded workers rights across the board.
Like NAFTA & CAFTA, all three pacts would allow foreign investors to bypass domestic courts and demand uncapped awards of money damages in their challenges of environmental and other public interest regulations.
While the Obama administration has negotiated some improvements, not surprisingly the agreements still do not meet acceptable standards. Labor and environmental leaders have spoken out strongly against perpetuation of wrong-headed trade policies.
The South Korea (KORUS) agreement would be largest free trade agreement since NAFTA. The Economic Policy Institute projects a loss of 159,000 jobs in first few years if ratified. And, the losing sectors include those ‘jobs of the future’ high speed trains, computers, wind turbines, solar components and more. Even U.S. government studies show it will increase the trade deficit and lead to a net loss of U.S. jobs.
KORUS explicitly forbids reference to International Labor Organization conventions that establish recognized core labor standards for working conditions. And it permits up to 65% of content or parts of traded items (such as cars) to originate from a third country (like North Korea or China).
The pact also will provide the nearly 300 Korean corporate affiliates already operating in the U.S. a platform to challenge before foreign tribunals our democratically-decided environmental, public heath, food and product safety, and other common sense public interest policies.
Columbia remains the most dangerous country on earth to be a trade unionist. 51 union members or sympathizers were murdered there in 2010 – more than in the rest of the world combined. Perpetrators of anti-union violence are not prosecuted.
And Panama provides a safe haven for corporations avoiding payment of U.S. taxes — monies sorely needed to provide social services and rebuild infrastructure in this country!
Go here to say no more giant job-sucking sounds, no more environmental devastation and no turning a blind eye to tax havens.