(en)Fast track is the wrong track

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Mon, 10 Nov 1997 01:55:28 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 23:51:47 -0800 To: NEVLabor@aol.com From: Barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us (Andrew Barbano)

Fast track is the wrong track NAFTA hurts Nevada by Lou Martino

Before President Clinton pushes his fast track foreign trade proposal any further, he should talk to the former workers of Empire Brushes in Sparks. Sixty families lost their livelihoods last March when corporate parent Rubbermaid shut down an efficient broom and mop manufacturing operation and shipped the jobs to Mexico. Even workers with three decades' service were terminated with little or nothing to show for it. Some still draw unemployment. Paul-Son Dice moved two dozen Las Vegas jobs to San Luis, Mexico. The true test of any trade agreement is whether it's good for working families. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) fails on every count despite the rosy picture painted by the Clinton administration and its congressional cronies. A big increase in Mexican fruit and vegetable imports has mushroomed food safety problems - up to 60% for some produce. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only one or two of every 100 imported shipments get inspected. Other products are much more frightening. "For the godfathers of the drug trade, NAFTA is a deal made in narco heaven," according to Phil Jordan, former director of intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Jordan says the Clinton administration knew NAFTA would increase drug trafficking but told the DEA not to talk about it. While the president may gloss over the numbers, well over 400,000 American workers have lost their jobs due to NAFTA. So-called free trade has proven very costly. Nancy DeWent of Queens, N.Y., recently saw her $11.58 per hour job go to Mexico, where someone will do what she did - assemble Swingline brand staplers. But her replacement will earn 50 cents an hour. "The company told us in May that they were shutting the plant - 408 union people will lose their jobs. We were devastated," said Ms. DeWent, 47. "I have been at the plant for 19 years. I am too old to start over and too young to retire." Swingline owner Acco USA, Inc., expects to save $12 million annually, mostly from cheaper labor. "The folks who once said NAFTA would generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs have now fallen back to saying it is break-even, or not too bad either way," Lori Wallach, director of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen Trade Campaign, recently said. "The burden of proof" lies with them, she added. In 1993, the U.S. enjoyed a $1.7 billion Mexican trade surplus. Last year, Mexico sold us $16 billion more than we sold them, a record deficit. They have an extremely small middle class able to buy U.S. goods. NAFTA is shrinking ours to match theirs. Companies downsizing to Mexico are, in effect, firing their own customers. NAFTA has been good for big business and top executives, but not for the average wage earner whose income remains at a standstill. I'm not against fair trade, but the rules must change to protect the standard of living for working families, not just corporate profits. Until we change the rules, congress should reject Pres. Clinton's request for "fast track" authority which would eliminate congressional review while allowing him to expand NAFTA to other countries. Such expansion defies common sense and only serves to hasten the day when most Americans won't make enough to afford Mexican-made goods. ----------------------------- TO: NEWS EDITORS FROM: ANDREW BARBANO

Given the ongoing Fast Track trauma in Washington, DC, please consider the following guest editorial. It has thus far appeared in the Daily Sparks Tribune and Reno Gazette-Journal.

Should you need a photo of Mr. Martino, please call me at (702) 786-1455. I can paper mail a glossy or transmit a scan. Please indicate your preferred format. You may also pick up the photo which accompanies this article at www.nevadalabor.com. Thank you. _____________ Lou Martino is secretary-treasurer and CEO of Teamsters Union Local 533 which is based in Reno with jurisdiction covering all of northern Nevada.


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