Washington state labor, social justice, faith, students and community members held a rally in Seattle today calling on Congressman Jim McDermott and the rest of the state’s Congressional delegation to vote NO on pending Free Trade Deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
“These trade deals are the cause of, not the solution to, our current economic crisis. They will determine the fate of our jobs and our communities here in Washington and worldwide,” said Kristen Beifus Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition.
The pending trade agreements are substantially the same as the “used trade deals” NAFTA and CAFTA that have offshored jobs, degraded the environment and trampled on the rights of farmers, workers and communities. The over 30 organizations and community members at the rally just “don’t buy” that the NAFTA model is the only option for U.S. trade policy.
“Trade done right fosters development and sustainable growth benefiting everyone; there’s simply no excuse for deforestation, poisoned water, and ruined lives to be the legacy of US trade policy.” Brady Montz, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter
“It is absolutely unacceptable to enter into trade agreements with countries that have no respect for labor and human rights. Shame on any Congressperson who signs a trade agreement that is soaked in the blood of murdered trade unionists,” Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council. “We can accept ‘Fair Trade’ agreements, but not these Bush-era South Korea, Colombian, and Panama Free Trade Agreements.”
During the rally, the old trade policy was junked, and in its place a People’s Trade policy was created; with labor rights, environmental sustainability, and community self-determination.
“There is a growing local food rebellion in Washington, and all over the US, made up of people who reject corporate control of the food system. In its place, we’re rebuilding a localized food system because we care about how our food is grown, and under what social and environmental conditions, and we believe every community has a right to the same thing, which we call “food sovereignty” explained Heather Day with the Community Alliance for Global Justice.
The demonstrators then took to the streets of Seattle in solidarity with people throughout South Korea, Colombia and Panama who also know A New Trade Policy IS Possible.