The AFL-CIO, which has spent heavily to support Democrats at the ballot box, said Wednesday it was freezing its political-action committee donations to federal candidates so it could focus on upcoming trade fights.
The labor group will fight trade deals with countries in the Pacific Rim that the White House has been pushing. Such deals, the organization said in a February statement, have promised higher wages and bigger markets to American workers but instead resulted in jobs being sent overseas.
“U.S. trade deals—from NAFTA and CAFTA to Korea and Colombia—form a mountain of broken promises made to workers,” the statement said.
President Obama, who twice received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, has faced resistance from his own party on the deals, including from Representatives Keith Ellison and Rosa Delauro and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Bob Casey.
“I have real concerns about it,” Casey told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “I just look at this from the perspective of Pennsylvania: We seem to be getting the short end of every stick after each trade agreement is entered into.”
Although GOP congressional leaders support the deals, conservative Republicans have expressed concerns that negotiating the trade deal would mean extending to the president more power than they would like because he is requesting authority to “fast-track” the deals, meaning Congress could only vote on them but not amend them.
“For Congress to cede oversight on such a sweeping agreement could have grave implications,” freshman Representative Steve Russell, an Oklahoma Republican, wrote on Wednesday in theHill.
AFL-CIO EXECUTIVE COUNCIL LETTER URGES CONGRESS TO STAND WITH WORKERS BY OPPOSING FAST TRACK
The labor movement will be closely monitoring how members of Congress vote on a forthcoming Trade Promotion Authority bill also known as “Fast-Track”. In a letter from the national AFL-CIO Executive Council to members of Congress, which you can view HERE, national union leaders expressed strong opposition to this bill, which would shut the public out of major trade negotiations that impact American wages and jobs as well as undermine global working conditions, environmental standards, and labor rights.
In addition to this letter, the AFL-CIO Executive Council agreed to a proposal to suspend political contributions to lawmakers until after the Fast-Track vote in Congress. According to a story by Press Associates, Inc. (PAI), union leaders also agreed that lawmakers’ votes on Fast-Track would be an important factor in determining future financial support for candidates.
Fast-Track is a reckless and undemocratic policy that allows for the authorization of trade deals with a simple up-or-down vote. This process has resulted in one-sided trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA that have cost our country millions of jobs, reduced wages, and suppressed working standards around the world in order to clear the way for massive corporate profits. President Obama and Congressional leaders are now seeking to use Fast-Track authority to pass an equally destructive trade deal call the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which you can learn more about HERE. You can also take action now by sending a message asking your members of Congress to oppose Fast-Track.
The message being sent by the national labor movement to Congress is clear: Fast-Track trade deals mean fewer jobs, lower wages, and a declining middle class. Members of Congress who are committed to strengthening the middle class through good jobs and fair trade must stand up to oppose Fast-Track.