End Record Trade Deficits; Put Workers First

President Bush’s trade policies continue to set new records for futility.

Bush has pushed the U.S. trade deficit to historic highs. “Staying the course

Real wages in this country are shrinking. Middle-class workers no longer believe that that their children will be able to achieve more than they have now. And recent polls show trade has become a big concern of voters.

Unrestricted trade destroys jobs, lowers the standard of living of American workers and threatens our economy. These policies also exploit foreign workers and fail to raise their standards of living.

Ten years of NAFTA have shown us that the only winners are multinational corporations that move plants out of the United States to pay a nonliving wage and re-import finished goods into this country. In other words, U.S. workers lose and foreign workers lose, but the CEOs and large shareholders in multinational conglomerates win. And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at America so negatively?

Bush and his supporters in Congress promote America as champions of liberty in one breath and trade agreements that fail to safeguard basic human rights, wage standards and environmental protections in another.

They continue to support trade policies that have displaced more than a million Mexican farmers and impoverished millions more Latin Americans, forcing these desperate workers to risk their lives to illegally migrate north and take menial jobs to support their families back home. The Republican solution to illegal immigration is not a re-examination of destructive trade policies, but rather a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border.

No, the Bush administration doesn't care about workers, American or international, as we are seeing once again in the push to have the Peru Free Trade Agreement voted on during the lame duck session of Congress.

Instead of passing another trade agreement modeled after NAFTA/CAFTA, Americans should demand real action that will benefit workers both here and abroad.

Fair trade agreements must:
• Elevate the role of workers by creating standards for an international minimum wage, worker safety and wage and hour rules
• Demand that trading partners not only recognize workers’ rights to unionize, but also protect workers against interference from their employers or their governments
• Set standards for child and prisoner labor
• Set standards for basic human rights
• Protect against import flooding
• Protect the government’s right to regulate trade

The Teamsters have a strong, proud history of opposing trade deals that are unfair to American workers and we will continue to fight against American jobs being sent overseas so Corporate America can pad its profits with Third World labor.