Mostly Agree on
Globalization & Trade
More than anything, global corporations
want "free trade" from the next President.
They'll get their wish.
Above all, global corporations want one thing
from the next U.S. President: "free trade," and the
right to invest wherever they want without having to comply
with pesky local laws and standards. Come November 7, they’ll
get their wish.
Al Gore has been one of the Clinton
administration’s most stalwart fighters for NAFTA, GATT, and
now China trade. And George W. Bush is at least as
DON'T PROTECT JOBS
In their 200-page policy paper,
"Prosperity for America’s Families," [prior to
the election, this paper was available from http://www.algore.com/]
Gore and vice
presidential candidate Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman give a ringing endorsement of globalization,
arguing that trade deals like NAFTA have created new jobs for
Americans because of increased exports. Yet the Economic
Policy Institute recently documented that while rising exports
created about 4.1 million jobs, rising imports caused us to
lose 7.3 million, for a net effect of 3.2 million jobs lost
due to trade. Of course, globalization has resulted in a lot
more than the evaporation of a few million American jobs.
Workers around the globe are being squeezed harder and forced
to compete against one another for the opportunity to make a living.
The Democrats do give our concerns a nod. Although they say
that their "overarching aim. . . is to aggressively open
markets," they also state that "all trade agreements
should include provisions that will protect environmental and
labor standards, as well as open markets in other
Such provisions might give workers a focal
point for organizing, but they can’t undo the damage done by
the trade agreements themselves. So says Cornell University’s
Kate Bronfenbrenner, who has just completed a report
documenting how, in NAFTA’s aftermath, employers have used
plant closings, or just the threat of plant closings, to keep
workers from organizing. A trade agreement that included real
teeth to enforce labor rights would help, says Bronfenbrenner.
But even that wouldn’t keep employers from effectively using
hollow threats or implicit threats to intimidate vulnerable
workers. When employers used such threats, Bronfenbrenner
found, workers usually voted against the union. Without the
threats, workers voted union 51 percent of the time. (Bronfenbrenner’s
new report, commissioned by the U.S. Trade Deficit Review
Commission, is available at www.ustdrc.gov/research/research.html.)
BUSH: FREE TRADE FROM
'CANADA TO CAPE HORNE'
George W. Bush has no use for promises about
labor and environmental standards. But he has lots to say
about global trade. He has chided the Clinton administration
for not pushing free trade hard enough. He pledges to secure
fast-track authority (which would force Congress to pass or
reject trade agreements without amendment). He says he will
push for "free trade agreements with all the nations of
Latin America," including Chile, Brazil, and Argentina,
as well as Central American and Caribbean nations. The
ultimate goal, he says, is "free trade from northernmost
Canada to the tip of Cape Horn."
From the Labor Party’s point of view, trade
agreements like NAFTA and institutions like the World Trade
Organization are the creatures of multinational corporations,
designed to give them free reign of labor around the planet.
At the 1998 Labor Party convention, delegates passed a
resolution stating that goods produced under unfair labor
conditions should not be allowed to enter the
Companies that use child labor, suppress workers’ right to
organize, or fail to meet occupational safety and health or
environmental standards should have their products seized at
the border, and should be held financially liable for how
their goods are produced. Further, workers themselves should
be empowered to investigate, present evidence, and petition to
remove goods that are in violation.
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