Demand a Real NAFTA

Demand a Real NAFTA Replacement that Puts People & the Planet Ahead of Corporate Profits

Dear Duane :

Replace NAFTATrade officials are racing to complete their renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) within the coming weeks — and, not suprisingly, corporate lobby groups are pushing hard to ensure that NAFTA provisions that make it easier to outsource jobs, drive down wages and pollute the environment are maintained.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition demanding that any NAFTA replacement protects jobs at home, protects human rights abroad and raise wages and protects the environment continent-wide.

For decades, NAFTA’s intentionally weak and ineffective labor and environmental standards have enabled big corproations to outsource jobs to Mexico, where they can pay workers less than $2 an hour and dump toxins with impunity, and then ship products back for sale in the United States.

Roughly a million U.S. livelihoods have already been destroyed, with more jobs outsourced every week.  And the impact in Mexico has been even worse.  Not only have millions of livelihoods been destoryed there, but manufacting wages in Mexico are now 9% lower than they were before NAFTA was enacted.

NAFTA also grants corporations vast new privileges that make it easier to outsource jobs while empowering them to attack the environmental and health laws on which we all rely.

PLEASE ACT NOW: Tell Congress that NAFTA’s replacement must end the race-to-the-bottom job outsourcing.

Already, multinational corporations have grabbed $392 million in taxpayer money using NAFTA’s infamous Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals.

ISDS empowers corporations to sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can order taxpayers to pay the corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of their expected future profits.

The multinational corporations only need to convince the lawyers that a law protecting public health, a food safety regulation or a pro-environment court ruling violates their special NAFTA rights. The corporate lawyers’ decisions are not subject to appeal.

We cannot let this continue.

That’s why Citizens Trade Campaign’s powerful coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations — along with many others — are joining our voices together with this demand:

Any NAFTA replacement deal must eliminate ISDS and end the job outsourcing and add strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement to raise wages and protect the environment throughout North America.

Please add your name to the petition now.

Together, we can make a difference.

Many thanks,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN

Online: citizenstrade.org
Twitter: @citizenstrade

Donate Online Now to Support Our Work

Advertisements

Korea and Labor Unions

Korea Reflectionsby Michael Leon Guerrero, Exec. Dir., Labor Network for Sustainability

LNS Part of Union Peace Mission to Korea

 

LNS executive director Michael Leon Guererro reports on a delegation of US trade unionists, Black Lives Matter, and other social movement activists to trade unions in Korea, sponsored by US Labor Against the War and the Korean Trade Union Confederation. Michael reports that the Korean labor movement played a key role in the peace process:
 
The road to the peace process was paved by the Candlelight Revolution – a popular movement uprising that lasted for months – ending in December 2016 with the impeachment of Korean President Park Gun-hye. Anchored by the KCTU, the movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in a series of protests against the corruption of the Park government and political domination by the family-owned conglomerates known as chaebols. On May 9, 2017, Moon Jae-in, a human rights attorney, was elected as the new President.
 
The delegation learned the history of the KCTU, which has grown to be a powerful organized voice of workers and changed the political landscape of Korea since being established just 30 years ago. Some of them met with former KCTU Chairman Han Sang-gyun and former vice-president Lee Young-Joo, both imprisoned by the Park administration on trumped up charges while protesting labor law reforms that would further limit workers’ rights.
 

NAFTA’s Problems

Ask Your State Legislators to Speak Out Against ISDS

Corporate lobby groups are freaking out!  They’re upset the word is finally getting out about the damage that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) can cause to jobs, the environment and public health.

TAKE ACTION: Please write your state legislators urging them to join others speaking out against the ISDS corporate power grab.

As you may know, the United States, Mexico and Canada are currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  One of the proposals on the table is to remove Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions from NAFTA altogether.

Unsurprisingly, wealthy corporate interests are fighting tooth-and-nail to save this system that lets them profit at the expense of our democracy.  Among many other steps, they’ve gone so far as to air television ads in support of ISDS in Washington, DC.

The current ISDS system enables transnational corporations to challenge federal and state laws, local land use ordinances and even court decisions before arbitration panels of three corporate lawyers.  These ISDS panels can award unlimited sums of taxpayer money, including for the loss of future profits.  The corporations need only convince panelists that a law, ordinance or court ruling violates the expansive rights granted to them under NAFTA.  Their decisions are not subject to appeal.

Continue reading

Better Answers on Trade for the U.S. Economy

by STAN SORSCHER


(May 28, 2018) — In 2016, President Trump prevailed over 17 establishment opponents. He is a disrupter. In particular, he disrupted establishment trade policies that have failed millions of Americans.

Wall StreetToo many workers and communities have been left behind. Too much mistrust has grown regarding the way we’ve managed globalization. Wages have fallen far behind the growth trends of previous generations.

The neoliberal free-market free-trade trickle-down orthodoxy, which we have followed for decades, is exhausted — socially, politically, and economically.

We don’t really understand Trump’s tariffs, or bluster, or impulsive negotiating tactics, but we do understand that we need a change in direction.

We need new, effective public policies to deal with real problems that affect most people in America — inequality, climate change, health care, opioid addiction, student debt, and decaying infrastructure. We desperately need a manufacturing strategy that creates good new jobs, and stronger employment relationships that would raise family income.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Unregulated free market orthodoxy cannot solve these problems — free market orthodoxy IS the problem.” Our big policy challenges are all market failures.

David Brooks told us that Donald Trump is the wrong answer to the right questions. Trump’s disruption gives us the opportunity, right now, to find better answers the right questions. We should start by rehabilitating the role of public policy, restoring trust in public institutions and re-legitimizing the role of government in solving our problems.

China understands this. So do Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the Nordic countries. Also, they all recognize their legitimate national interests. They have various forms of mixed economies, including well-designed industrial policies to improve their living standards. We understood this when we industrialized our economy, and we understood it again in the decades after World War II.

China has a national strategy to become the leader in 10 industries of the future. South Korea built a formidable manufacturing economy and raised living standards dramatically. China, Japan, and Europe have modern high-speed rail. China is investing in billions for infrastructure to move goods to their key markets around the world. China targeted solar energy as a key industry of the future, and invested $126 billion there last year.

On the other hand, our economic and trade policies steadily moved our industrial base offshore and we tell ourselves “these jobs won’t come back.” We accept “D+” ratings on our neglected infrastructure, and can’t pass an infrastructure bill. Our approach is ill-suited to the 21st century global economy.

China invests billions in R&D, knowing their investment will be commercialized in their domestic economy. Our billions in publicly funded R&D will be commercialized offshore, producing good jobs in Malaysia, Vietnam, India, China, Mexico, and Ireland.

Foreign students are subsidized to study at U.S. universities. Our own students pay prohibitive tuition costs, taking on debt and risk. Many graduates don’t find a job in their field of study.

We have done better on each of these measures in the past.calif-clean-air-good-jobs-climate

Inequality and climate change — the defining problems of our time — are the biggest market failures in human history. Solutions will require new public policies. NAFTA and subsequent trade policies take exactly the wrong approach. They are designed to merge our economy into the global economy, blur national borders, and push aside public interests.

Economic and trade policies should balance investor interests with public interests. That’s what we expect any political system to do. That will be necessary, important, and fundamentally different from the trickle-down economic policies and free-trade NAFTA approach.

President Trump fumbles with this realization. He recognizes the urgency of “doing something.” His tariffs are certainly something, but Trump’s instinct is to tear down social cohesion, hit back at his rivals, fan conflict, and diminish our leadership in the world.

Our first conversation should be about restoring social cohesion, and recognizing that we all do better when we all do better. Our purpose is to raise living standards and improve well-being in our communities. In a mixed economy approach, we would create policy-driven strategies to address inequality, climate change, health care, education, investment in infrastructure, restoring our industrial base, and making key social investments we have let wither for 30 years.

When President Trump says it, it sounds ominous, but every country does expect public policies to express their legitimate national interests. What we don’t hear from President Trump is that the purpose of an economy is to raise living standards. That is true of our domestic economy, and equally important for the global economy. We can recognize legitimate national interests, raising living standards everywhere, without being nationalists or xenophobic.

President Trump has disrupted economic orthodoxy. We no longer expect the invisible hand of free markets to solve serious social, environmental, and economic problems. But, Donald Trump is transactional; he lacks a coherent vision. His answers look suspiciously beneficial for global corporations, the financial industry, and very wealthy donors.

We have campaign seasons in 2018 and 2020 to consider different answers to Trump’s questions. Where should we be investing in people, infrastructure, innovation, industries, communities, and clean energy? In each case, we should ask, “Who gets the gains from productivity, innovation, investments, and globalization?”

President Trump has put those questions into play. We haven’t had this good an opportunity for years.


Stan Sorscher is a labor representative for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE 2001. 

Short URL: http://www.thestand.org/?p=66964

Posted by on May 24 2018. Filed under OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed

 

Trade and China

Testimony before the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness for a hearing on ‘Market Access Challenges in China’

Testimony • By Thea M. Lee • April 11, 2018

“This litany of unfair trade practices and currency manipulation has had a serious and pervasive negative impact on American jobs and wages. As my colleague, Rob Scott, demonstrated in a 2017 report, Growth in U.S.–China Trade Deficit between 2001 and 2015 Cost 3.4 Million Jobs [ https://www.epi.org/publication/growth-in-u-s-china-trade-deficit-between-2001-and-2015-cost-3-4-million-jobs-heres-how-to-rebalance-trade-and-rebuild-american-manufacturing ], the deficit cost jobs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Between 2001 and 2011, the growing trade deficit cost directly impacted workers $37 billion a year, while also putting downward pressure on the wages of all non-college graduates by $180 billion a year.”

Well informed analysis.

Read the testimony.

https://www.epi.org/publication/testimony-before-the-senate-finance-committee-subcommittee-on-international-trade-customs-and-global-competitiveness-for-a-hearing-on-market-access-challenges-in-china/

For an alternate viewpoint read;

http://www.dsausa.org/socialism_and_international_competition_a_response_to_daniel_adkins

The U.S. Needs Cops on the Trade Beat

The Trump Administration’s abruptly announced tariffs on washing machines and solar cells imported to the United States provoked wailing and the gnashing of teeth worldwide.

The same over-the-top beating of breasts can be expected if the administration penalizes steel and aluminum imported from countries that violate trade regulations.

Every time the United States enforces trade law, the recrimination starts. America, the free traders say, has no right to shield its domestic manufacturing from the onslaught of unfairly traded imports. There should be no cops on the trade beat, free traders say. It should be the Wild West when it comes to international trade, with the last factory standing the winner, no matter how many trade rules it defied to get there.

Playing Fair

American manufacturers – including those that make steel, aluminum, solar panels and washing machines – can compete and win against any challenger in the world when the contest is fair, when all firms that export follow trade rules. But American manufacturers lose when foreign producers export underpriced products after receiving loans that don’t have to be paid back, government-subsidized raw materials and other massive state aid.

American manufacturers shouldn’t be patsies in a rigged game. That’s why they are demanding trade law enforcement. They’re not seeking protectionism, which shields domestic manufacturing from fairly traded imports. Instead, they want prosecution, which is punishing trade violators whose cheating destroys American manufacturing and jobs.

China, probably the most flagrant trade rule violator in the world, was among the first to cry “protectionism” after the Trump administration announced the washing machine and solar panel tariffs on Monday. Chinese president Xi Jinping’s chief economic advisor, Liu He, said at Davos this week that his country stood against protectionism and for globalism.

Sure, China wants globalism after its trade violations have destroyed every other country’s industrial base, leaving the Asian giant standing as the only producer globally.

And it’s close to achieving that in the manufacture of solar cells and panels after more than a decade of trade violations. China issued a renewable energy law in 2005 including measures to promote solar manufacturing. Then in 2010, the China State Council listed renewable energy as one of seven industries eligible for special government incentives and loans.

Before China began giving solar manufacturers special perks in 2005, its share of global production was 7 percent. Now, it makes 60 percent of the world’s solar cells and 71 percent of solar modules.

In 2011 the U.S. Commerce Department determined that China was improperly subsidizing its solar producers and that they were selling panels and cells in the United States for less than fair market value, both of which violate trade rules.

As a result, the United States imposed penalties on the imports. Chinese manufacturers ducked the tariffs by moving production to Taiwan.  When American producers asked the Commerce Department in 2013 to deal with this dodge, Chinese companies moved production again.

The Commerce Department concluded that from 2012 to 2016 imports of Chinese solar cells and panels grew 500 percent and the price declined 60 percent, bankrupting and driving out of business American producers. Between 2012 and 2017 – a period of just five years – 25 American solar manufacturers closed. And now, another has shut down and declared bankruptcy.

Last May, two U.S. solar companies asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate. The ITC recommended tariffs even higher than those that the president ultimately imposed this week. They penalties are worldwide this time, preventing Chinese companies from evading them by shifting production again.

This kind of trade law flouting by China is exactly what is ravaging the American aluminum and steel industries.

Twenty years ago, there were 23 aluminum smelters in the U.S. Now there are five.

Similarly, in the steel industry, thousands of good, family-supporting U.S. jobs were lost and mills and parts of mills closed as China ramped up production, flooded the world market and drove down prices. Between 2000 and 2014, Chinese steel production rose 540 percent. U.S. production, a mere fraction of the Asian giant’s, fell 13 percent.

As with solar, China put government money into its aluminum and steel industries, improperly tipping the trade scales in its favor. And as with solar, when U.S. aluminum and steel companies won trade cases, some Chinese producers moved or falsely marked products as made elsewhere to skirt American tariffs. The European Union’s anti-fraud office determined the same thing – that Chinese steel was shipped through Vietnam and given fake certificates of origin to evade EU tariffs.

At just about the same time the solar and washing machine trade cases were filed last year, the Trump administration announced it would investigate whether the damaging effects of unfairly traded steel and aluminum were threatening national security. If so, the administration could impose import quotas and tariffs. Initially, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said these investigations, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, would be completed by June 30, 2017.

Integral to every jet, submarine and military weapon, steel and aluminum are vital for defense. Infrastructure is part of national defense as well, from interstate highways to pipelines. The inability to produce these metals in sufficient quantities and qualities domestically jeopardizes national security.

The Commerce Department report was delayed for months, during which time foreign producers flooded as much steel and aluminum as they could into the United States before the anticipated tariffs. Steel imports rose almost 20 percent. Aluminum and bauxite imports rose nearly 32 percent.

The Commerce Department finally delivered the steel report on Jan. 11 and the aluminum report on Jan. 19. Neither was made public, and the administration can, under the terms of the law, wait another 90 days to act. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Waters said the administration would announce its decision at an appropriate time.

That time is now. It is great that the administration punished the trade-violating exporters of solar products and washing machines. The American steel and aluminum industries and workers want that same enforcement immediately from the nation’s top trade cop.

Leo Gerard is President of the United Steelworkers

 

Continue reading

Replace NAFTA- Call In Day

Replace NAFTA Call-in Day

Tomorrow, Weds. December 13th!

Brothers & Sisters,

NAFTA helped corporations outsource one million middle-class American jobs, with more and more jobs lost every week..

The terms of this massive corporate power grab are now being renegotiated, with talks happening right now in Washington, D.C.

This could finally be our chance to replace NAFTA and end its damage — but the negotiations are happening behind closed doors with hundreds of corporate advisors granted special access and the public locked out.

Call your member of Congress now to demand a NAFTA replacement that puts people and the planet before corporations. (Toll-free numbers and sample script below, or click to call here.)

The corporations are fighting to preserve the special powers in NAFTA that make it easier for CEOs and companies to outsource jobs to Mexico and to attack our laws before panels of corporate lawyers who can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations.

NAFTA also lacks enforceable labor and environmental standards so companies can move U.S. jobs to Mexico to pay workers poverty wages, dump toxins and then import those products back to the U.S. for sale. Workers in Mexico and the U.S. lose while corporate profits soar.

Since NAFTA, Mexico’s already low wages are down 9 percent and U.S. wages are flat, while the price of everything has risen. Unless we rewrite NAFTA, NAFTA will keep giving the green light to corporations to outsource American jobs, pushing down wages.

That’s why TODAY, a nationwide coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, faith and farm groups are holding a #ReplaceNAFTA Call-in Day urging Congress to demand that NAFTA renegotiations put people ahead of corporations.

Continue reading