Sanders, Labor Leaders to Protest Disastrous Trade Deal

WASHINGTON, April 20 – Protesting a trade deal that would throw Americans out of work, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today planned to march with leaders of the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations to a rally outside the U.S. trade representative’s office.            

“One of the key reasons why the middle class in America continues to decline and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider is because of disastrous trade agreements which have sent millions of decent-paying jobs to China and other low-wage countries,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ leading role in opposing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership follows a long record of opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and other job-killing trade deals. Partly because of those and other agreements, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have been shuttered since 2001 and more than 4.7 million manufacturing jobs have vanished.

Proponents claimed that NAFTA would create 200,000 American jobs. Instead, the 1994 deal led to the loss of some 1 million jobs in the United States. The trade agreement with China six years later was ballyhooed by corporate backers as way to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs.  Instead, it led to the loss of 3.2 million U.S. jobs.

“Americans should not be forced to compete against desperately poor workers throughout the world.” In Vietnam, for example, workers are paid as little as 56 cents an hour. “Trade agreements should benefit working people, not just CEOs of large corporations,” Sanders added.

As the largest economy in the world, Americans should expect corporations to invest in the United States and make products in America. “Corporate America must begin investing in the United States and not just low-wage countries,” Sanders said.

The senator also expressed concern about other aspects of the proposed Pacific Rim trade deal.  While disturbing details of the agreement have been leaked, Sanders criticized the secrecy surrounding the negotiations. “It is absurd that a trade agreement of such enormous consequence has had so little transparency.” He also warned that the agreement could undermine U.S. sovereignty by giving foreign corporations the right to challenge laws in international courts. “It is beyond belief that this agreement would let corporations sue over laws to protect public health and the environment.”

Sanders and others participated in the rally outside the office of U.S. Trade Representative Michael B. Froman only four days after proponents of the trade agreement introduced legislation that would make it easier to rush the measure through Congress.