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Voters are justifiably angry about job-killing trade deals

TPP-clinton-sanders-trumpBy RICHARD TRUMKA

(March 10, 2016) — Much of the attention in this highly charged presidential election is focused on an issue that is usually guarded by elites: international trade.

Tuesday’s primary results in Michigan prove that Americans have a deep-seated opposition to job-killing trade policies. Politicians at all levels in both parties need to remember that consequences exist for dismissing the anger their constituents feel about bad trade deals.

This is playing out right now at an Indianapolis manufacturing plant. Maybe you’ve seen the wrenching video of Carrier President Chris Nelson telling workers that their jobs were being shipped to Mexico.

Workers shouted and booed when Nelson said it was “strictly a business decision” made to “stay competitive and protect the business for the long term.”

Those Carrier workers are mad. We all should be. This isn’t a game. Plant closures disrupt lives, scatter families, empty schools and bankrupt communities. America’s economic rules are rigged to push every domestic manufacturer toward putting workers in that same terrible position.

AFLCIO-TPP-problemsThat’s why the latest bad trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — is stalled. Every day, the coalition against the TPP grows stronger. The American labor movement and our allies stand ready to defeat the TPP if and when it comes up for a vote.

It’s time for a new economic era. That’s why — after we stop the TPP — Congress should do a full-scale review of all trade deals, starting with the destructive 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA made it easier, less risky and more profitable for Carrier and other U.S. manufacturers to send jobs to Mexico.

More than 60,000 factories closed in the United States in just 10 years. That’s 15 every single day. More than 5 million jobs were lost as outsourcing became the go-to strategy for practically every CEO who moved jobs to Mexico, China, Vietnam, India, South Korea, Colombia, you name it.

trumkaThat’s why American voters are mad, and it’s also why a growing majority stands against bad trade deals. It’s not trade that’s the problem, it’s the trade rules that pad profits at the expense of everyday people.

Richard Trumka is President of the AFL-CIO. This column originally appeared in the USA Today. Learn more at

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