For Immediate Release
February 18, 2010
Labor Advocates and the Unemployed Urge Senator to Change Trade Policies that Cost Oregon Jobs
Senator Ron Wyden Chairs the Subcommittee in Charge of U.S. Trade Policy
PORTLAND, OR — Labor advocates and the unemployed gathered outside the Portland, Eugene and Medford offices of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today urging the Senator to support trade policy reforms designed to protect and create jobs. hey spoke out about changes they want made to international trade agreements and delivered 750 hand-written letters and signatures — each one representing 100 Oregon families put out of work under existing trade policies.
“Existing trade policies are responsible for sending tens of thousands of Oregon jobs overseas. We simply can’t afford to lose jobs to any more business-as-usual trade agreements,” said Bob Tackett, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. “As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, Senator Wyden could play an important role in re-writing the nation’s trade policies in order to protect and create Oregon jobs.”
Oregon has lost approximately 75,000 jobs under existing trade policies between 1995 and 2008 as a result of both direct offshoring and displacement by imports, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data conducted by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign.
“Current trade agreements force local employers to compete with businesses that exploit sweatshop labor and lax environmental standards abroad. hat’s a losing situation for working people everywhere,” said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “The hundreds of letters we’ve collected urge Senator Wyden to support legislation that would level the playing field by setting much stronger labor, environmental and consumer safety standards.”
Many of the letters specifically encourage Senator Wyden to cosponsor a bill called the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act — or TRADE Act, for short (HR.3012/S.2821). he TRADE Act sets strong new standards for future trade agreements, and establishes a process for renegotiating existing ones.
The TRADE Act is supported by labor, environmental, family farm and human rights organizations throughout the country. he bill is currently cosponsored by 136 members of the House and additional members of the Senate. Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio and David Wu, as well as freshman Senator Jeff Merkley, have signed on as cosponsors.
“Politicians used to argue that NAFTA would create jobs, when in fact the opposite is true. I’m one of millions of people across the United States who has lost a job as a result of the nation’s broken trade policies,” said Victor Pierce, a former employee of the Freightliner Truck Plant in Portland, who lost his job as a result of offshoring in early 2009, still hasn’t received severance and still remains unemployed. “I want Senator Wyden to use his committee chair to enact positive changes so that what happened to me stops happening to other hard-working Oregonians.”