California Labor Federation
“Irresponsible trade policy, beginning with NAFTA, has already displaced over 800,000 California jobs. The KorUS FTA stands to accelerate job loss, not reverse the decline. In fact, the U.S. International Trade Commission (U.S. ITC), which has historically overestimated the benefits of FTAs, predicts that the deal will increase our trade deficit, resulting in a loss of 159,000 jobs over the next seven years, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In California, these effects could be amplified, as over 459,000 work in sectors identified as vulnerable by the U.S. ITC, such as in electronics; metal and iron work; textiles and apparel; automobile manufacturing and parts; and other transportation equipment.”
“For more than a decade, the labor movement, environmental groups, development advocates and others have advocated for a new trade policy that is part of a more coordinated and coherent national economic strategy. The proposed U.S.-Korea trade deal does not live up to that model and does not contribute to a sustainable global future. We believe we must move towards a more democratic, sustainable and fair global economy with broadly shared prosperity for working people around the world. Reaching that goal will require deep-seated reforms in current trade policy, as well as in our own domestic labor laws and other policies.”
“The Sierra Club believes that trade done right can foster development and sustainable growth while also protecting workers and the environment in the United States and abroad. Unfortunately, the recently concluded U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) falls short of these goals.
“Similar to previous FTAs, the Investment Chapter of the U.S.-South Korea FTA provides foreign investors and corporations expansive rights to directly challenge public interest laws and regulations for compensation before international tribunals, bypassing domestic courts. Mexico and Canada have lost NAFTA challenges to environmental protections and the United States has spent millions defending itself against suits.”
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
“Labor supported President Obama and numerous other democratic candidates two years ago. In exchange for this support, we were promised a return to policies and practices that maintain, restore, and strengthen the middle class and working people across the United States. For two years, we have watched campaign promises be broken, one after the other, on this relentless march down the road of business as usual. Now, despite his campaign promise that he would only support trade agreements that “put workers first”, the President is pushing a trade agreement, the largest since the NAFTA debacle, that undeniably puts workers in South Korea and the United States in jeopardy.”
National Family Farm Coalition
“The renegotiated Korea FTA does not address many of the core issues that endanger American farmers, ranchers, and fishers such as: extreme foreign investor rights and their private investor-state enforcement, restrictions on U.S. livestock exports, and other commercial provisions. The Korea-U.S. FTA, as it has been renegotiated, has clear winners and losers. The winners include international financiers, who will benefit from foreign investor rights and automakers, who will benefit from increased auto-exports. The losers in the Korea FTA are U.S. manufacturers, workers, farmers, and consumers.”
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
“The United States has lost 5 million jobs since NAFTA, and the last thing America’s middle class needs right now is ‘Son of NAFTA,’” Hoffa said. “We desperately need to reverse direction and protect our economy instead of giving it away to our diplomatic partners. One of the real dangers of this deal is that it gives South Korean multinationals new rights to challenge U.S. laws. Why should a foreign company or investor have more power in this country than our own small businesses?”
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
“For more than two decades, the American people have been told free trade was good for both workers and consumers. In reality, free trade policies, negotiated by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, have killed good jobs here at home by encouraging offshoring by multinational corporations, creating a global race to the bottom that has gutted labor rights and environmental protections.
“The proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement will only perpetuate this cycle, encouraging further job loss and degradation of working standards both here and in South Korea.”
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
“’Free trade’ policies designed to protect the interests of multinationals have not helped working families and have facilitated the transfer of work and jobs overseas. The U.S. needs to change these flawed trade policies and take significant action to support our manufacturing base, the bedrock of the real economy.
“Unfortunately, the recently announced trade agreement between Korea and the U.S. fails to move our trade policies in the right direction and will contribute to further job loss in the U.S. According to the EPI, our trade deficit with Korea will grow by roughly $16.7 billion. The EPI further estimates that the KORUS FTA will eliminate approximately 159,000 American jobs. Job losses in aerospoce, auto parts manufacturing, appliances, machinery, textiles, and dozens of other industries far out shadow any possible small gains in the auto assembly industry.”
Friends of the Earth
“The Korea trade pact replicates some of the worst aspects of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), providing foreign investors the right to challenge U.S. public health and environmental regulations that could put a dent in their current or expected profits.”
Congressman George Miller
“Millions of Americans have experienced first-hand the destructive effects of NAFTA-style agreements over the years since NAFTA itself was adopted in 1994, a treaty that has undermined American workers and increased outsourcing of American jobs. In that time, the United States has suffered a net loss of 4.9 million manufacturing jobs and watched 43,000 manufacturing facilities shut down while our trade deficit ballooned. The U.S. International Trade Commission’s study of the Korea FTA concluded that this agreement, too, would increase our trade deficit.
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez
“While I share the Administration’s desire to increase our exports around the world, I was hoping my recent meeting with the President would convince him that this agreement needs improvements beyond auto and beef provisions. There are still fundamental flaws in the agreement, particularly with respect to the labor and investment chapters and textile tariff reductions. These provisions send jobs offshore and make it harder for American workers and companies to compete. Without changes to benefit working families in the 39th district of California, I cannot support this agreement.”
Senator Sherrod Brown
“I continue to believe it is a dangerous mistake to pursue the same kind of trade deals that ballooned our deficit and led to massive job loss. We simply cannot keep barking up this tree as American companies fold and American workers face prolonged unemployment. Until we address China’s currency manipulation and make decisions to reduce our trade deficit, I see no reason to pursue more NAFTA-style free trade agreements.”
Congressman Kissel (D-NC)
“We cannot present the same trade guidelines and template that brought us NAFTA and CAFTA, grossly harming American manufacturing and decimating our local economy, and expect different results,” said Kissell. “The people of this district do not want any more ‘Free Trade,’ they want trade that is fair—creating jobs and helping our local economy prosper. We must find solutions to help bring good jobs back home, not promote the same failed policies that have harmed us in the past. Our nation cannot afford to enter into another disastrous Free Trade Agreement.”
Congressmen Ron Paul and Walter B. Jones
“Free trade theorists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo must be rolling in their graves to see pacts like President Obama’s Korea Agreement called “free trade.” Like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the pact, written by unelected bureaucrats, spans 1,000 pages.
“It includes endless pages of rules and regulations enforced by foreign tribunals. This pact is a sneaky form of international preemption, undermining the critical checks and balances and freedoms established by the U.S. Constitution’s reservation of many rights to the people or state governments.”
Congressman Mike Michaud
“I had hoped for more from this White House, which campaigned on a need to change the way we negotiate trade agreements so that they truly benefit American workers and businesses. The deal reached today, while beneficial to the auto industry, falls far short of that goal.
“Moving forward, I will continue to reach out to the Administration and work with them, especially on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But when it comes to this deal, I will work with allies on Capitol Hill to do whatever I can to defeat it. We need to finally live up to what the American people have been demanding for years – a substantial departure from the past, not a continuation of its mistakes. “
Communication Workers of America
“This agreement gives investment and legal protections to large multi-national corporations which shift jobs offshore in search of the lowest labor and environmental costs and highest profits. With no counter balance, multi-national corporations whipsaw workers and nations to prevent and eliminate bargaining rights. KORUS, as negotiated, does not create an economic and collective bargaining rights framework to support the aspirations of US and Korean workers. ”
“The USW looks at trade as but one component of a broader economic policy. But discussions about how we can develop a broader economic strategy that will enhance the rights and interests of working people to ensure that they truly share in the benefits of globalization have not been successful. Our nation fails to have a comprehensive strategy to enhance the competitiveness of our economy, to ensure the strength of our manufacturing base and to increase employment, wages and income. As a result, we must look at the terms of the FTA on their own.
“Our members live with the effects of trade every day and recognize that we live in a global economy. Today’s trade situation has cost the jobs of too many of our members, and they are looking for a change in trade policy that will advance their interests, as well as those of others living around the globe. This agreement, however, does not represent the change in trade policy that will advance American workers’ interests.”
International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers
“First and foremost, KORUS does not include enforceable labor protections. Granted, the language urges the United States and South Korea to adhere to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. However, like the 2007 Bush Administration negotiated Korea deal, as well as the Panama, Peru and Colombia FTAs, the practical implication of this provision is the exclusion of any enforceable ILO labor protections. The fact is that the ILO Declaration itself has no teeth and is not enforceable. Instead, it is the eight ILO Conventions themselves that are enforceable. Yet, and despite the urging of labor to include the ILO Conventions, they are not included in KORUS. The resulting compromise allows potential FTA panels the flexibility to ignore, or even weaken through misguided interpretations, the true labor protections called for by the ILO.”
Five U.S. Textile Organizations
“As representatives of the domestic textile and apparel sector and its nearly 600,000 workers, we strongly urge you to oppose the U.S.–South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). In regards to textiles and apparel, the FTA is seriously flawed and will result in the continued outsourcing of valuable textile, apparel and other manufacturing jobs. With our nation struggling through one of the worst economic periods in its history, we believe the current agreement sends the wrong message to our workers and to American voters.”
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers
“It is clear that in both the United States and South Korea, workers continue to face repeated challenges to their exercise of fundamental human rights on the job — especially freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. This deal does nothing to improve or strengthen the provisions negotiated by Bush in these crucial areas. It is essential that both countries bring their labor laws and practice fully into compliance with international standards prior to implementation of the agreement.”