US Workers Opposed to Columbia Free Trade Deal

By David Dayen, Firedog Lake Labor unions are not happy with the “action plan” that is seen as a precursor to a free trade agreement with Colombia. Scores of labor organizers have been attacked and even killed in Colombia over the past several years. And the AFL-CIO and other unions simply find the deal insufficient. “The action plan does not go nearly far enough in laying out concrete benchmarks for progress in the areas of violence and impunity, nor does it address many of the ways in which Colombian labor law falls short of international standards,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. He said the action plan would leave the U.S. with “no leverage whatsoever” to enforce its terms once Congress ratified the trade deal. “On the basis of the information provided to us at this time, we remain strongly opposed to the Colombia trade agreement,” Trumka said [...] Trumka said 51 union organizers had been killed in Colombia last year. He said he doubted the agreement would be moving forward if it had been 51 CEOs who were killed." Emphasis mine. White House officials promised they would hold off on any final free trade agreement until progress was seen in the action plan – until workers and trade unionists did not live in fear, and prosecutions were undertaken for past crimes. But it does not seem that the rest of the actual trade agreement, which was negotiated by the Bush Administration in 2007, would change in any material way. For this reason, as well as questions over the enforcement of the law in Colombia, labor will oppose the agreement. This comes off a slight thaw in often frosty relations between the White House and organized labor. Union leaders have undergone major fights in the states over their very survival, and haven’t focused as much on the business in Washington. But the revival of NAFTA-style trade agreements will certainly get their attention. But labor will not oppose the Colombia FTA alone. Human rights and faith groups are sure to decry agreements with a country that has such a terrible record on these issues. And that threatens to widen the coalition against free trade agreements of this type, which have far more of a constituency in Washington than in the rest of the country. Read original post here.