USW Opposes Fast Track Bill: It’s time for a New Trade Policy, Not More of the Same

Contacts:  Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444, wranick@usw.org
                Gary Hubbard (202) 256-8125, ghubbard@usw.org 

(Pittsburgh) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement today following the release of legislation today by Senators Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden and Congressman Paul Ryan to provide the President fast track trade negotiating authority.

“Today’s fast track bill will only continue outmoded trade policies that have decimated American manufacturing with more than 60,000 shuttered factories and millions of lost jobs. It’s time for a new trade policy, not more of the same.

“The USW is not against trade, but unfortunately the history of trade agreements is clear:  I don’t know anyone who can name an agreement passed under fast track that has resulted in a net gain of jobs for working Americans. The fast track bill introduced today fails to ensure that future trade agreements will produce the results that will enhance wages and job security, and address income inequality.

“Congress has included negotiating objectives in past fast track authority legislation requiring trade deficit reduction, adequate attention to workers’ rights, provisions to address unfair tax rebate policies and other provisions that were not achieved in final trade agreements. New negotiating objectives, such as addressing currency manipulation, are unlikely to be fulfilled even though it is included as an objective in a bill.

“Fast track will only perpetuate existing trade policies which are in dramatic need of change. Providing expedited procedures and preferential treatment for trade agreements that don’t provide the results America needs is unacceptable. A good trade agreement doesn’t need the protection of fast track -- it would have the strong support of the American people.

“For Steelworkers, trade isn’t an academic or political issue; it’s about kitchen table economics: Will our members be able to keep their jobs and put food on their tables, pay their bills, put their kids through college and have a safe and secure retirement? We have had to spend far too much time, energy and resources fighting to have existing trade agreements enforced. Fast track will only keep the current system in place and that’s unacceptable.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed among industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, plus the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org

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