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A Trade Proposal Even the Teamsters Can Support


You can practically smell the change in the air these days.

Take trade, for example. For the past 15 years, American workers watched helplessly as millions of their jobs moved overseas.

But it's 2008 now. And Congress is looking at a new trade proposal: the TRADE Act.

Even the Teamsters like it - and that's saying a mouthful, because we've been fierce critics of every trade proposal since NAFTA.

Deals like NAFTA, CAFTA and China PNTR aren't really "free trade agreements." They're deals to lure corporations away from America by promising access to cheap labor.

The TRADE Act would rewrite the rules on global trade. It would prevent agreements with countries that offer up their workers and their environment in exchange for investment deals that benefit a few of their richest citizens.

The TRADE Act also calls for a review of existing agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA -- which, as the Teamsters say, give workers the SHAFTA.

Give credit to the TRADE Act's Democratic sponsors: Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine.

They know the TRADE Act won't pass this year -- despite its 52 House cosponsors. There just isn't time this late in the session.

But Brown and Michaud also know the debate about trade needs to be changed before trade rules can be changed.

For the past 15 years, anyone who opposed a so-called "free trade agreement" was labeled a protectionist. And that was the end of the story.

Now, the TRADE Act allows us to present an alternative to trade rules that destroy good jobs, harm the environment and lower safety standards.

It allows us to make our case that trade can spread benefits to workers as well as to Wall Street.

We know change is coming. The American people are demanding it. In less than five months, we'll have a new president. And we'll have a new course on trade.

The TRADE Act sets that course -- for trade that creates good jobs and raises living standards for workers here and overseas.