Friday, May 6, 2011

Alliance Alert: South Korean, Colombian and Panama "Free Trade" Agreements are bad for the economy, environment, and democracy!

Like bad pennies, these trade agreements keep turning up! And while President Obama and the US Trade Representative say that our concerns about labor rights and financial regulation have been addressed, all three of these agreements still contain anti-democratic investor protection clauses that threaten the ability of national, state and local governments to protect rights, health, and ecosystems.

There's a push to pass these FTAs by the summer. Now is the time to contact your US Representative and US Senators to express your outrage that these corporate driven, anti-democratic agreements are being considered. State your opposition to all three and let them know that you will remember how they vote.

Want to learn more? Watch video of this US Korea Free Trade Teach-in, featuring Arthur Stamoulis of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, David Delk of Alliance for Democracy; and Barbara Dudley, former head of Greenpeace USA and current head of the Oregon Working Families Party.

Contact your US Representative here and US Senators here.
We're together on this one!
Labor unions like the AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America and United Steelworkers, environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, and democracy organizations like Alliance for Democracy and Public Citizen are united in their opposition to the South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

The Sierra Club says:
"Mexico and Canada have lost NAFTA challenges to environmental protections and the United States has spent millions defending itself against suits.”

Communication Workers of America said:
“This agreement gives investment and legal protections to large multi-national corporations ...”

We say:
The South Korea Free Trade Agreement is basically a Bush-era giveaway to corporations and Wall Street. It contains the same investor protection provisions that have led to offshoring of jobs and international challenges to democratically-instituted labor, safety, and environmental law. We can't build a sustainable economy, preserve ecosystems, or provide decent jobs on the same old models of unfair "free trade."

The investor protection clauses in KORUS and other FTAs empower foreign corporations to challenge law and regulations passed by national, state, and local governments whenever the corporation feels those laws threaten future profits. These cases are heard before non-democratic trade tribunals. And if the tribunal says so, the law or regulation must be changed or the corporation must be paid.

But wait... there's more!
President Obama will present not only the Korea agreement, but also re-introduce trade agreements that President Bush had negotiated with Colombia and Panama as well.

Colombia has a vicious record of suppression of labor unions and execution of labor leaders. Panama has been a haven for tax evaders. While President Obama and the US Trade Representative have reported progress on both issues, any progress on worker rights, environmental protection, financial regulation or public health will be threatened by the continued presence of investor protection clauses in all three agreements.

It's a bipartisan issue
Republicans want all three of these trade agreements to pass quickly, too. The Republican chair of the House Trade subcommittee has urged President Obama to move quickly on resolution of any remaining issues so that Congress can act on all three agreements by July 1, 2011. After all, they represent potential gains for the for-profit entities that fund both parties re-election campaigns.

Time for action
It's time to start speaking out--early and often! Forward this alert to friends and family in your district or state and get them involved too. We can stop these agreements and end the domination of trade policy by big corporations, but only with your help!

Thanks for all you do!

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