President Invited to Walk in Millworkers’ Shoes

Members of the Maine Labor Council- United Steelworkers, who represent over 3,000 papermakers across the state, issued an invitation today to President Barack Obama and Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to come to Millinocket and East Millinocket to see the real impact of NAFTA style free trade agreements.

President Obama is moving forward with three pending NAFTA style free trade agreements, but Maine mill workers know that these policies have been devastating for communities across our state.

“Before he moves forward with these trade deals, we call on President Obama to come and walk a mile in our shoes,” said Patrick Carleton, President of the Maine Labor Council.  “These rigged trade deals have shut down mills like the ones in Millinocket and East Millinocket, in Jay and in Ashland, yet Congress is considering more of the same failed policies,” he said.

Senators Snowe and Collins have yet to take positions on the proposed South Korea Free Trade Agreement, despite the fact that it was negotiated years ago.

“I worked at the paper mill in Millinocket for many years, and so I have seen first hand the impact of unfair trade deals on Maine families,” said Don “Magoo” McLaughlin, who now lives in Bucksport.  “We want President Obama to come see for himself what we have seen before he sends these disastrous trade agreements to Congress for a vote,” he said

“Mainers need jobs now, but these unfair trade deals do the exact opposite of creating jobs, these trade deals costs us jobs.  Why would Obama, Collins and Snowe support these?” said McLaughlin.

The pending trade deals that were negotiated by President George Bush are the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the Panama Free Trade Agreement.

“Of particular concern for us is the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, because union leaders in Colombia are routinely murdered for standing up for their rights,” said Carleton.  “We can’t have a free trade agreement with a country with such horrible workers rights.  We’re in solidarity with workers there in Colombia in rejecting this corporate trade deal,” he said.

The Maine Labor Council passed a resolution Thursday urging Senators Snowe and Collins to take leadership on the issue and oppose the pending free trade agreements BEFORE they come up for a vote.