UPDATE: A successful rally was held June 29 (although you won’t see any coverage in the commercial media). Here’s a video produced by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition of some of the street theater.
Advocates for fair trade policies that respect international labor and environmental standards will rally this Wednesday, June 29 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Seattle’s Federal Courthouse Plaza, 700 Stewart St. — which, as it happens, is a half-block from Rep. Jim McDermott’s office. “A New Trade Policy IS Possible Rally” is organized by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition and other community groups, and its speakers will include Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council.
Labor-opposed “free-trade” agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will come up for a vote at any time in the House Trade Subcommittee in Ways and Means, upon which McDermott is the ranking minority member. So NOW is the time to make our voices heard as corporate-backed Republicans and Democrats are seeking to ram these agreements through in July.
The preceding eventing, there will be a Banner Build and Drum Training event to prepare for the Wednesday’s rally and future trade-related events from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday night at Automonia Social Center, 600 24th Ave S. in Seattle.
If you can’t attend the rally, be heard on this issue by calling Rep. McDermott’s office at 202-225-3106 or 206-553-7170, and leave a simple message for him: We need a fundamental change in U.S. 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, two more labor organizers where murdered in Colombia during the period when that nation 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.