Congressional Leaders Urge Bush Administration to Back AFL China Trade Petition

July 3, 2006 – Forty members of Congress, including Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to move quickly to accept the AFL-CIO’s petition charging China’s failure to protect workers’ rights is an unfair trade practice that costs U.S. jobs.

“Unless we hold China accountable for violations of basic workers rights, its leaders will conclude that they can get all the benefits of access to markets in the United States and other developed countries without adopting reforms.  This would allow firms an ill-gotten competitive advantage over companies in the United Sates, and set back critical reform efforts,” the letter states.

On June 8 the AFL-CIO filed the petition with the U.S. Trade Representative charging the Chinese government with violently suppressing workers’ basic rights as part of a systematic effort to maintain an unfair trade advantage in the global marketplace.

In March 2004, the AFL-CIO filed a similar petition, and while the USTR did not dispute the charges at that time, it rejected the petition, saying Bush was taking other actions to advance workers’ rights. Since then, the situation has worsened.