Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) shops for American-made souvenirs at a Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C. on June 8, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Sen. Sanders believes that decades of unfettered free trade policies have been unrelentingly bad for American workers, and have largely contributed to our shrinking middle class, job loss and the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. He believes that if the United States is to remain a major industrial power – producing real products and creating good paying jobs – we must implement new trade policies that protect not just the profits of large corporations, but the jobs of working people of our country. “Nobody I know believes we should place a wall around this country. Trade is a good thing, but we must begin negotiating fair trade agreements that reflect the interests of working families in America, working families in other countries, and not just large multinational corporations and the CEOs who help write these trade agreements,” Sen. Sanders has said.

In the twenty years since Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the first major free trade agreement – the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – workers in the U.S. have been engaged in a horrendous "race to the bottom" with workers in low wage countries.  Despite an explosion of technology and a huge increase in worker productivity here in the U.S., wages have been dropping, poverty is increasing and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider.  Millions of good-paying jobs in the U.S. have been lost as companies continue to shut down here and move to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries.

“We cannot keep outsourcing our future to low-wage countries by passing even more unfettered free trade agreements.”

- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Mexico and many other developing countries have also been hurt by these pro-corporate free-trade agreements.  For example, many of the factories that originally left the U.S. for Mexico have since moved on to other countries, leaving behind more poverty and in many cases, a fouled environment.  Meanwhile, the Mexican agricultural sector has been decimated by years of cheap exports that have pulled the rug from under small family farmers.  

Sen. Sanders is also strongly opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which – like the trade deals that preceded it – would protect the interests of largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers here and abroad, consumers, and the environment.  The TPP would also undermine our national sovereignty, by allowing foreign corporations to sue federal, state and local governments for increasing the minimum wage or passing any other law that could hurt expected future corporate profits. TPP would grant new monopoly rights to big pharmaceutical companies that could be used to deny access to lower cost generic drugs for millions of people. The TPP even threatens American laws that protect the safety of the drugs we take, the seafood we feed our families and the toys our kids play with every day.

Senator Sanders believes we must create new trade policies that benefit the working families of our nation, workers in other countries, consumers and the environment – and not just multi-national corporations.