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Hare: Bush Trade Agenda Would Compound Economic Pain of Working Americans

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Hare: Bush Trade Agenda Would Compound Economic Pain of Working Americans

Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Trade Working Group and Co-Chair of the International Workers Rights Caucus, today released the following statement in response to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab's remarks before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"The Bush Administration just doesn't get it. As working Americans continue to grapple with stagnant wages, higher costs of living, and record home foreclosures, this President insists on compounding their pain by ramming through his unfair trade agenda.

"Ambassador Schwab's remarks turn a blind eye to the unmistakable failures of the NAFTA-CAFTA trade model—the foundation of the pending agreements with Panama, Colombia, and Korea. America has lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs as a result of unfair trade since President Bush took office.

"The policies we pursue in Washington should help create jobs and strengthen the economy—not line the pockets of multinational corporations at the expense of working families.

"I am particularly troubled by Ambassador Schwab's argument for a free trade agreement with Colombia. As a former clothing factory worker and union member, I have been appalled to learn about the assassinations of labor organizers there. At best, President Alvaro Uribe's government has been complicit in the violence.

"Despite a slight decrease in the number of murders since trade negotiations began, Colombia remains the most dangerous nation in the world for union organizers. According to Colombian labor rights groups, more than 2,500 trade unionists have been killed over the last 20 years and 38 in 2007 alone, with almost all cases remaining unsolved. There were also 201 death threats against trade unionists last year. Is this the progress Ambassador Schwab is crowing about?

"The right to organize and bargain collectively is essential to human freedom. I believe passage of the Colombia FTA would greatly diminish our reputation as a leader in the fight to end human rights abuses worldwide.

"Finally, for Ambassador Schwab to suggest that a 'no' vote on the Bush trade agenda is a vote against U.S. exporters, manufacturers, service providers, and agricultural producers is both misguided and unfortunate. The fact is that this Administration has done nothing to protect these companies greatest resource—their workers. In reality, Ambassador Schwab's ‘new road' is a dead-end for American workers and a ‘no' vote can begin to put us back on the path to fair trade.

"My colleagues on the House Trade Working Group and I remain committed to working with President Bush to forge a trade policy that fosters fair global competition, creates jobs, and protects workers rights. I hope he will join us in that mission."

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