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Contact Congress on job-killing FTAs, protecting TAA program

UPDATE (July 8): The free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama cleared initial committee hurdles in Congress on July 7, but a party-line clash continues over the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Washington state workers and businesses disproportionately benefit from the TAA program. As Republican leaders in Congress try to kill it, where does Washington’s delegation stand? They won’t say. Until they do… keep contacting your U.S. Representative and Senators to urge them to oppose these job-killing FTAs and to support reauthorization of a robust TAA program to help the workers victimized by existing U.S. trade policies.

(July 7) — Congress and the White House seem intent on ramming through three job-killing free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Today, the Senate Finance Committee may take executive action on these FTAs and the House Ways and Means Committee may also consider them.

The good news: U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-7th), will reportedly oppose the Colombian FTA unless it includes language that protects Colombian workers. (Last week, opponents of the FTAs rallied outside McDermott’s Seattle office.) The bad news: Most of the rest of Washington’s House and Senate delegation have a history of supporting FTAs.

What’s different in the debate over these FTAs, however, is that Tea Party Republicans are insisting on cutting off federal aid to American workers who lose their jobs because of U.S. trade policies. Democrats are pushing to reauthorize a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program to help workers who lose their jobs as a result of offshoring and increased imports, but Republicans — even those in Washington state, which disproportionately benefits from the TAA program — are trying to kill TAA or drastically limit it.

TAKE A STAND! Tell your senators and representatives to stop these FTAs get to work promoting job growth in the United States, rather than offshoring American jobs. CLICK HERE to send them a message now. WASHINGTON STATE RESIDENTS are urged to insert the following language to your message: Also, insist on reauthorization of a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which disproportionately benefits displaced workers and companies in Washington State:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says that similar trade deals like NAFTA, which has cost nearly 700,000 jobs and created a $97 billion trade deficit with Mexico, have been “a miserable failure for working people… These new deals follow in NAFTA’s footsteps. Working people need to make our voices heard — and we need to fight hard. We need to be creating jobs — not passing agreements that will offshore more jobs and leave more communities behind.”

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, with one such murder occurring nearly every week — but their killers are seldom brought to justice. Says Trumka: “I doubt very much Congress and the White House would be passing a trade deal with a country where a CEO was murdered every week.”

The proposed Korea trade deal would cost an estimated 159,000 U.S. jobs and according to trade experts who have studied the deal, its loopholes could open the doors for goods made in China or even sweatshops and North Korea, but labeled in South Korea.

The Panama agreement contains most of the problems of the other two says Trumka, including deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety labor and environmental laws. In addition, Panama is a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.

Click here to send message to your lawmakers to vote no on all three trade deals and click here to join a Facebook Online Day of Action to Stop the FTAs.

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FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!