WHEREAS, with record high unemployment in the U.S. and a large trade deficit, future trade policies must focus on job creation in the U.S. based on a new framework for negotiating trade agreements; and
WHEREAS, trade agreements based on the framework of the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have resulted in nearly two million job losses, and do not include worker rights, human rights and environmental protections, and therefore must be rejected; and
WHEREAS, prior to the establishment of the so-called fast track process for trade agreement approval, before 1973, the U.S. had a slight trade surplus, which it had almost every year between World War II and 1975, and
WHEREAS, since the enactment of NAFTA, the U.S. trade deficit has increased to over $700 billion; and
WHEREAS, the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will continue this trend; and
WHEREAS, the South Korea Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) is projected to cause job losses of 159,000 in the U.S. and the International Trade Commission estimates the trade deficit will increase in seven high-paying sectors (textiles, auto supply parts, metal production, transportation equipment, electronics, iron metal workers and wearing apparel) and the South Korea FTA forbids reference to the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, which leaves workers open to exploitation, and
WHEREAS, the South Korea FTA’s investment chapter would give South Korean investors rights to challenge U.S. laws, regulations, and even court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent the U.S. judicial system and any potential benefit from reduced tariffs will be mitigated, as South Korea is one of the three countries that the U.S. Department of Treasury lists as a currency manipulator; and
WHEREAS, the South Korea FTA lacks assurances that products assembled in South Korea will not contain parts from North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Complex; and
WHEREAS, the proposed Colombia FTA action plan lacks any real enforcement mechanism; and
WHEREAS, Colombia remains the world center for violence against workers; more than 2,680 unionists have been murdered in the country; and
WHEREAS, the Colombia FTA provides incentives for mining, timber, and palm oil companies to destroy the Amazon and worsen global warming; and
WHEREAS, Panama continues to be a major tax haven and home to 400,000 corporations, including U.S. firms, which incorporate in the country to avoid paying taxes; and,
WHEREAS, the Panama FTA does not require U.S. construction and other firms equal access to work on the Panama Canal improvement project; and
WHEREAS, the Trans-Pacific Partnership provides the current Administration with an opportunity to shape an agreement that protects workers’ rights, the environment, democracy, food safety, and labor standards; and
WHEREAS, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters commends the United States Trade Representative for its enforcement actions, such as the case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) for labor rights violations and against China for illegal subsidies of wind power equipment—a key industry in the emerging clean energy sector; and
WHEREAS, continued enforcement against trading partners who do violate international trade law is necessary to level the playing field and to ensure that countries such as China do not manipulate currency to drive down the prices of its exports.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that it is a moral and economic imperative that this country drastically reform its trade policies to ensure that working families’ wages are not further eroded, that jobs are not continually sent off-shore, that the right to organize and to bargain collectively be in any agreement, and that workers are free from exploitation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters will continue to fight and to lobby against any trade agreement that does not increase jobs in the U.S. and protect workers’ rights.