|(from left) U.S. Congressman John Garamendi, Chairman of US House Education and Labor Committee – George Miller, IAM Western Territory GVP Gary Allen (at podium), Executive Secretary of the California State AFL-CIO Art Pulaski is seated at right.|
A vocal contingent of Machinists union members took part in a recent rally in Concord, CA, to support passage of the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act of 2009. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Michael Michaud, (D-ME), would revamp U.S. trade policy to provide a measure of protection for American workers and include enforceable labor, environmental and human rights standards. The legislation would also create a path to transform existing “free trade” policies, including NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO.
“Our cheap labor trade policies have failed to deliver on the promise of globalization. Instead, they have created untenable trade deficits, eroded our manufacturing base, and placed tremendous downward pressure on wages and benefits for ordinary Americans,” said Western Territory GVP Gary Allen.
Also attending the rally were House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who became the 128th and 129th voting members of the House Democratic Caucus to endorse the TRADE Act, giving it a majority of the 256-member caucus.
“We need to push policies that will reverse the damage caused by previous trade agreements so that we can create jobs, not ship them overseas,” said Miller, a 35-year House veteran, who has opposed all of the major trade deals dating back to NAFTA, “These trade agreements – I didn’t vote for any of them. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now.”
Garamendi said that he would not support trade deals unless they provide the protection that every human being on this planet deserved. “We should not reward deplorable labor and environmental conditions abroad only to see jobs exported at home. There is nothing ‘free’ about oppressive labor conditions.”
“In the last decade the U. S. has lost over five million manufacturing jobs; jobs that have historically been the key to a middle class life,” said GVP Allen. “We have seen employers move to places where they can repress worker rights, disregard the environment, and engage in illegal trade practices. This legislation requires that we fix our failed trade agreements before we enter new pacts.”