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ORFTC Fair Trade Monitor
Monthly fair trade update from the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign
Robin Froerer – Nyssa, OR
Robin is a small business owner who lives and workers in a farming community in eastern Oregon.
“I think NAFTA has been a terrible thing for our country. To me, farming and agriculture is what it effects the most. That’s the very foundation of our country. They’re crumbling it.
“It’s scary to me to realize that we’ll be dependent on another country for all our food and everything. That’s where we’re headed.”
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1. Hermiston City Council Unanimously Passes Anti-Fast Track Resolution
The Hermiston City Council unanimously passed a “Resolution to Retain Local Jobs” on May 14, 2007 in a vote of 7-0. The resolution calls on Congress to “oppose international trade agreements that facilitate the offshoring of Oregon jobs” and to replace Fast Track trade promotion authority with “democratic” and “inclusive” trade policymaking procedures. Click here for a copy of the full resolution.
More than two dozen area residents, many of who had lost jobs when the Simplot potato processing plant in Hermiston move abroad under NAFTA, turned out to the City Council meeting to voice their support for the resolution. Several broke into tears after the unanimous vote, saying it was the first time the city officially acknowledged the pain that the offshoring of jobs had caused their families.
“I worked twenty-five years at Simplot and gave my life there. Any time they needed me, I was there, because they were the ones that put food on my table,” said Antonia Morales. “After they shut down, I was left with nothing. It’s time for Congress to listen to my family’s concerns.”
City Council Member Manuel Guiterrez was one of the main supporters of the resolution. In explaining his support, he said, “I want to make sure that there are jobs here for our kids, so they don’t have to leave the area just to find work.”
2. Over 700 Organizations Speak Out against Fast Track
Dozens of Oregon organizations, including the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Oregon Livestock Producers Association and the Sierra Club, have urged Democratic Party leadership to block any attempts to grant the Bush administration an extension of Fast Track. The Oregon groups added their names to a letter signed by over 700 organizations nationwide proclaiming that “There is no way to ‘fix’ Fast Track.” For a copy of the letter, and to see a complete list of signers, please visit: Fast Track Sign-On Letter
3. Eastern Oregon Trade Assembly a Huge Success
When the J.R. Simplot potato processing plant closed in Hermiston to move abroad in 2004, 719 local jobs were immediately eliminated. Now, two years later, area residents have come together to discuss the ripple effects the plant closure has caused throughout the entire community — and steps that can be taken to prevent further trade-related job losses. The ORFTC-sponsored “Hermiston Assembly on Free Trade and Job Loss” brought together more than sixty displaced workers, union members, city officials and others to document the harmful impacts of NAFTA-style trade policies in eastern Oregon and to demand that elected officials begin supporting fair trade policies. Almost everyone present signed a petition calling on Congress to reject efforts to extend Fast Track. Front-page coverage of the event in the East Oregonian included the testimony of Umatilla High School freshman Itzel Claustro who spoke on behalf of her classmates: “Some of the best athletes had to quit what they loved the most just to help their parents out. They’re growing up to fast and not having the fun they’re supposed to have.”
4. Freightliner Workers Featured in New Trade Video
A new 10-minute video documentary about the problems with Fast Track is now available for viewing for free online. Produced by allies in the Maine Fair Trade Campaign, the video features statements by former Freightliner workers during April’s “Rally Against Fast Track and the Loss of Oregon Jobs.”
Click here to watch the video.
In the News:
Hermiston Council Resolution Opposes Free Trade
Forum Echoes with Fallout from U.S. Trade Agreements
A Wyden-ing Rift
Labor Blames NAFTA for Loss of Jobs
Protesters Voice Concerns Over Lame-Duck Legislators
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