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Why trade matters

Group of young women in a workshop
Worker centers help these young women fight the working conditions of unfair trade

To put it simply, the fate of the planet depends upon whether we put the well-being of the vast majority of the world's people, including American workers, ahead of immense profits for the wealthy few. Workers in the U.S. need to have ties with workers abroad, both for our mutual defense and to assert our own vision of globalization.

The trade agreements being signed today give tremendous protection to huge corporations, while ignoring the rights of workers and citizens. Neo-liberal economic policies have given free reign to private markets at the expense of public standards. Powerful international financial institution like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization have imposed requirements that countries must structure their economies to serve the interests of transnational corporations rather than their own people, making decisions in private, with no democratic input.

Group of Filipino marchers burning imperialism banner
May Day demonstration in the Philippines

Repression without representation

In order to create low-wage and non-union havens for industry, they have imposed privatization, smaller public budgets, lower labor and environmental standards, and corporate-driven development schemes on the world's citizens, without their consent. Free trade schemes such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and others encourage companies to move jobs across borders in search of the most lenient employment and environmental standards. These schemes force workers into a race to the bottom, competing for jobs on the basis of low wages, miserable conditions, and few benefits.

There can be no doubt that these policies have led to the crisis which is spreading unemployment, environmental devastation, and misery around the world.

It is possible to create a just economic system that will benefit all. A system that favors the few through the exploitation of many is not inevitable. We must continue to imagine and promote alternatives to corporate-global capitalism.

How NAFTA Side Agreement sidelined labor rights


Bruce Reese

"I was shocked by the way that our economy affects the Mexicans' way of life. A lot of it is because of NAFTA.

"Their FAT is very similar to the UE because of the ideals of both unions. We can learn from each other because we face some of the same issues on both sides of the border."

Bruce Reese
Business Agent of UE Local 332, & UE national Trustee

street scene with young man looking aggressively at camera
How NAFTA Treaty's
Side Agreement
sidelined labor rights


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