Sunday, 14 June 2015

US: ‘Trade deal defeat shows strength of unions’

Last Friday, the US House of Representatives voted against a ‘fast track’ procedure that would have given the president more power to negotiate a trade deal with pacific countries. According to an analysis in the New York Times, a coalition of trade unions and liberal activists played a key role in this outcome. Union members have held 650 events, made 160,000 phone calls and sent over 20,000 letters. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka:
We are very grateful for all the activists, families, community leaders and elected officials who worked so tirelessly for transparency and worker rights in international trade deals. This was truly democracy in action.
According to the NYT analysis, the campaign was successful because they started as early as 2013 and because of the broad support in the labour movement. A spokesperson of the Chamber of Commerce said was ‘mystified’ that even the SEIU supports the campaign, even though it represents many public sector workers: “None of these workers are in any way negatively affected by competition with imports. Yet SEIU will be there, showing solidarity.”

Yet the support of SEIU makes perfect sense, the NYT explains: when the labour conditions of private sector workers are under attack, this will weaken the entire labour movement.

In the Netherlands, union federation FNV has taken a stance against TTIP, the transatlantic counterpart of the pacific trade deal.

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