Lots of big news as we approach this week's expected vote on the Peru Free Trade Agreement - the first of the secretly-crafted, lobbyist-written agreements that expands the job-killing, wage-destroying NAFTA trade model into South America. You can use this tool to contact your representatives and ask them to vote "no" on the NAFTA expansion. Here's a review of what's going on:
NEW REPORT SHOWS PERU DEAL WOULD WEAKEN LABOR LAWS: In a stunning new report on the eve of the congressional vote on the Peru Free Trade Agreement, a Columbia University legal expert shows the pact may weaken the United States' ability to enforce basic labor standards in trade agreements. The report by Columbia Law professor Mark Barenberg finds that the much-touted labor protections in the Peru deal are "even worse than existing law," actually undermines the few powers the U.S. does have to enforce better labor standards, and "in no respect do the Agreement's labor provisions mark a significant improvement." You can read the full report here.
FAIR TRADE LEADERS WILL ATTEMPT TO AMEND PERU DEAL TODAY: Members of the House Trade Working Group will testify before the House Rules Committee today at 3:00 p.m. in support of their amendments to the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. The members will offer amendments regarding labor standards, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, currency reform, Buy America provisions, fast-track, food and product safety, human trafficking, and drug proliferation, among others.
INTERVIEW WITH HARE EXPLAINS FIGHT WITHIN THE HOUSE DEM CAUCUS: Illinois Rep. Phil Hare (D), who won his closely contested race by campaigning against NAFTA-style trade deals, discusses the fight within the House Democratic caucus in an interview that you can listen to here. Hare issued a press release chastising President Bush for today campaigning with Fortune 500 CEOs in a PR event designed to pressure Democrats to support the Peru deal. "It is no surprise that President Bush is campaigning for the Peru FTA with its likely beneficiaries: corporate billionaires," Hare said. "It is important to note who the President is not meeting with today--labor, environmental, or consumer groups. That is, of course, because none of them support this agreement. "Where do these CEO's stand on enforceable labor standards in Peru? Do they agree with Tom Donahue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who said he is 'encouraged by assurances that the labor provisions cannot be read to require compliance with International Labor Organization Conventions?'"
LABOR LEADERS HOLD CONFERENCE CALL WITH FAIR TRADE LEADERS: Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and Unite Here President Bruce Raynor are holding a press conference call this morning with fair trade leaders in Congress to discuss exactly how the Peru agreement is an extension of NAFTA. Among those on the call will be Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Betty Sutton of Ohio, Phil Hare of Illinois, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Dale Kildee of Michigan.