Free Trade

Job creation remains a key focus in the U.S. economic recovery, but recent Free Trade Agreements with foreign nations have left union leaders in America crying foul.

In response to last month’s Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard described the action as yet another attack on American workers at a time when the economy is struggling and unemployment remains unacceptably high.

Historically, these agreements have closed American manufacturing facilities and cost American jobs, according to Gerard, who said it is foolish to think that this latest round of Free Trade Agreements will do something different.

Negotiated in 1992 and signed into law in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was intended to create jobs. However, union leaders noted that nearly 900,000 U.S. jobs were lost to NAFTA in the period between 1993 and 2002 alone, according to information from the Economic Policy Institute.

The U.S. trade deal with China was supposed to produce a $1 billion surplus, Gerard said, but instead, America is facing a $250 billion-plus deficit.

Other nations can bring a lot to the table, and it’s best to do business in good faith, but it must be remembered that when dealing with other countries, there is no level playing field. Other nations don’t have the same labor laws, environmental restrictions and other regulations in place as we do here in the United States.

Free trade has yet to work as promised, according to Gerard, who asserted that the recent agreements will further devastate the U.S. manufacturing base and destroy living wage American jobs.

The USW International head maintained that success in the global market should be measured by the number of jobs that are created, not the number of agreements that are enacted.

With economic concerns still prevailing, this is a time for job creation in America, and a time to buy American. Any movement away from this notion could certainly be counterproductive.