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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8893
JPY
USD
118.31
GBP
USD
0.6660
CAD
USD
1.2459
INR
USD
61.427

Rates may not be current.