Why the Colombia Free Trade Agreement is Still a Bad Idea

The following is a statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka welcoming the arrival of 6 Colombian trade union leaders who have come to Washington, D.C. to visit with Congress and express their opposition to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement:

Our message today is very simple: now is not the time to advance the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  Working people, in the U.S. and around the world, are bearing the brunt of years of bad trade policy.  Our nation has lost more than three million good manufacturing jobs over the past decade.  We need to focus on domestic job creation efforts, not passing another NAFTA-style agreement.

But most importantly, with more than 2,850 trade unionists killed in the last 25 years, Colombia is still the most dangerous place in the world to be a union member.  Last year alone, 51 trade unionists were murdered, an increase over 2009.  And when trade unionists are targeted for organizing to help raise the standard of living for Colombians, it perpetuates poverty that hurts all of Colombia's people.

I have no doubt that if 51 CEOs had been murdered in Colombia last year, this deal would be on a very slow track indeed.

While we appreciate the efforts of Presidents Obama and Santos to improve the situation by implementing the Labor Action Plan, this plan does not go far enough to protect workers and ensure their safety and security. 

The violence in Colombia has no easy solutions—but the Colombia Free Trade Agreement is certainly not one of them.  Once the deal is in place, we'll lose our leverage if the violence against average Colombians begins to rise again.  The violence and impunity against trade unionists in Colombia is a decades long problem.  It will not be solved in a matter of weeks.

I welcome these brave Colombian unionists who are here today fighting for their fellow citizens.     I hope that every Member of Congress will listen to what my brothers and sisters from Colombia have to say.

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  • Trumka is right. If even one CEO had been murdered in Colombia it would get attention.. I'm proud the American labor movement is supporting our fellow workers in Colombia.

    Posted by , 06/17/2011 11:34am (6 years ago)

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