News / Economy

Top US Labor Leader Calls Trade Deals Flawed

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (file photo)
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (file photo)

The head of the biggest union organization in the United States says flawed trade agreements are helping to destroy the American middle class, and is calling for a new approach that puts jobs ahead of corporate profits.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says Washington needs to change tax incentives and investment policies so they encourage companies to keep jobs and production in the United States instead moving to lower-wage nations.  The comments come as the debate is heating up in Washington over pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says trade problems are one reason that there are 15 million unemployed people in the United States and another 25 million who are under-employed, and he thinks Washington's approach to trade is broken.

"Our trade and economic policies have not served the interest of the United States as a world power by delivering the good jobs or completive edge that we must have.  And around the world, inequality and strife are expanding even as trade and investment flow grow, and trade agreements multiply," Trumka said.

Watch related Mil Arcega video report

The former coal miner says to fix that, Washington must revise tax laws and trade deals with the goal of maximizing employment rather than just profit.  He repeated a call for investment in the infrastructure and education that he says will make the United States, and its workers, more competitive in a global market.

The union leader also argues that the U.S. Congress should not yet approve a long-stalled free trade agreement with Colombia because, in his view, that nation does too little to protect labor organizers from violence.  Trumka says 51 union officials were assassinated there in the past year, including two who were in the middle of negotiating an agreement.

"He was on a bus, there was a bus that commuted from the mine to the town about three-quarters of a mile (nearly a kilometer)) away.  They assassinated the ((Union)) Vice President at the mine.  They got half way back to town, they stopped the bus with all the workers on it, make him kneel down in the ground and they put a bullet through his head," he said.

He also says a pending free trade agreement with South Korea is likely to cost many U.S. jobs, even though it has been re-negotiated to do more to boost U.S. auto exports to that important market.

Trumka's comments come as the Obama Administration is getting ready to submit a free trade agreement with South Korea to Congress for approval.  Opposition Republicans in Congress are urging the administration to also submit pending agreements with Colombia and Panama for approval at the same time.

Trade supporters, like Ohio Senator Rob Portman, say delaying trade agreements allows competitors to win new customers and take market share away from U.S. exporters.  Portman, a Republican and former U.S. Trade Representative, says trade agreements help the U.S. economy because the United States tends to have trade surpluses with nations where Washington has hammered out free trade agreements.

Portman is optimistic that the trade agreements will move forward soon. "Based on what the president and his cabinet have said recently, it seems like we many have a basis to move forward on some of these agreements.  I'm very hopeful of course that we can do it and do it very quickly," Portman said.

The Obama Administration has pledged to double U.S. exports over the next few years as a way to cut high unemployment.  White House officials say each $1 billion in exports creates thousands of jobs in the United States.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.