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Call Rep. McDermott about free trade agreements

The Washington Fair Trade Coalition has declared today (Tuesday, June 21) to be “Trade Justice Call-In Day” and is urging all supporters of fair trade agreements that respect workers’ rights and environmental protections to call the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott at 202-225-3106. (But feel free to call any time after that date!)

Free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama from coming up for a vote this week in the House Trade Subcommittee in Ways and Means, of which Rep. McDermott is the ranking minority member. So NOW is the time to make your voice heard as corporate-backed Republicans and Democrats are seeking to ram these agreements through in July.

TAKE ACTION: Call Rep. McDermott at 202-225-3106 and leave a simple message with his DC office: We need a fundamental change in US trade policy to stop off-shoring jobs, hurting farmers and uprooting communities. Tell him not to let these FTAs out of his committee until they contain:

  • Enforceable labor rights
  • Investor accountability
  • Respect for human rights and environmental laws

If you want to leave a stronger message, the WFTC suggests you remind Rep. McDermott that we in Washington State do not support:

  • Murder of unionists in Colombia with impunity. In May, 2 labor organizers where murdered in Colombia-during the period when Colombia was supposed to be addressing these issues to move the Free Trade Agreement forward. Pending FTAs have no enforceable labor rights. They have principles only with no tangible ways to protect workers and labor organizers.
  • Corporations that continue to off-shore living wage jobs and then lobby against continued Trade Adjustment Assistance for the unemployed workers that are left behind. It is estimated at 70,000 jobs will be lost in WA State alone if the S. Korea FTA passes.
  • Continued tax havens for corporations so they can avoid paying taxes that would go towards necessary government programs such as health care and education which are being cut throughout the country.
  • Sweatshops in North Korea. Under the South Korea FTA 2/3 of a product could be made in North Korea or China and still be labeled ‘Made in South Korea’. Sweatshops exploit workers on the production side and make it impossible for small businesses on the retail side to compete.
  • Excessive Investors Rights that enable companies such as Pacific Rim Mining Corporation to sue countries such as of El Salvador under CAFTA for taking away their mining permits after the mining company poisoned the water and soil of communities where they were extracting. Current US FTAs such as NAFTA and CAFTA put profits over people and the health of communities.

For more information about the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, visit their website.

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