Forum Post: Free Trade Agreements Allow Corporations to Exploit the Poor, Increase American Unemployment, and Destroy the American Dream for Us 99%
Posted 6 years ago on Oct. 14, 2011, 7:21 p.m. EST by AmericanRedWhiteBlue
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President Barack Obama said the deals would make it easier for U.S. companies to sell their products overseas, but trade agreements in the past have allowed U.S. companies to outsource jobs and realize higher profits due to the low labor costs found outside of this country.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, chairman of the House Trade Working Group, says proposed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would hurt U.S. job creation. Michaud said recently the “president is sending mixed messages by sending these free trade agreements to Congress. He wants to pass more free trade agreements, but conditions it on an extension of benefits for all those that will be harmed by them. Does he want to create jobs at home with the American Jobs Act, or does he want to offshore them to places like South Korea?”
Michaud says Congress needs to pass an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance because existing policies continue to undermine U.S. businesses and workers, but the extension should be tied to policy that encourages business growth and job creation in the U.S.
We agree. The American Jobs Act will do nothing to create jobs here if manufacturers can get dirt-cheap labor outside of the U.S., where many labors are unprotected and exploited.
The president recently said, “These agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs across the country for workers making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”
This is hard for us to believe, since most countries leading in manufacturing are making products for U.S. consumers. Products made in the U.S. are expensive due to protections for workers like unions and minimum wage laws.
The president has said these agreements would boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually. But the trade-off also allows for U.S. companies to have their products made cheaply overseas.
Michaud spent nearly 30 years in the manufacturing sector, and like many in York County, saw manufacturing jobs all but disappear. In Maine, we’ve lost 40 percent of our manufacturing base since NAFTA, Michaud said.
He says the three pending free trade agreements will undermine U.S. manufacturing at a time when it desperately needs to be rebuilt. The Economic Policy Institute estimates just the agreement with Korea will cost the U.S. 159,000 jobs, noted Michaud, and it will open up a new channel in Korea through which China can transship goods to the U.S. to evade higher tariffs, he said.
Michaud also pointed out in Colombia workers have been killed for trying to organize for better working conditions and pay.
Passing trade agreements that do not protect American jobs is not what people want. Allowing these agreements should be possible, but only when coupled with laws that have real teeth to stop labor atrocities and ensure other countries are treating their workers fairly.
As long as American corporations can find labor that is cheaper and faster outside of the U.S., they will use laborers outside of the U.S., which does nothing to help Americans, nor the workers who are being exploited.
Americans continue to say, “We need jobs,” and we hope our legislators and president will start listening.