"There are 159,000 good reasons why Congress should oppose the South Korea Free Trade Agreement. That's how many U.S. workers will lose their jobs if this deeply-flawed trade accord is implemented," said International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) President Tom Buffenbarger at a Washington D.C. rally to oppose the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements.
In addition to the cost in jobs, Buffenbarger cited all three trade pacts for failing to include adequate human rights and labor rights provisions, while giving foreign businesses the ability to challenge policies that protect U.S. workers' health and safety.
"The Colombia Free Trade Agreement carries 2,900 reasons why Congress should oppose it," declared Buffenbarger. "That's how many trade unionists were murdered during the past 25 years. Fifty-one last year, 22 this year and 15 after Colombia signed off on a clearly inadequate plan designed to curb the death rate."
Buffenbarger was joined at the AFL-CIO rally by United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, Maine Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Wisconsin IAM Local 873 member Yolanda Pillsbury.
"It's time for Congress to reject these failed, NAFTA-style trade agreements that have helped push this country to the edge of an economic abyss," said Buffenbarger. "We're here today to urge Congress to stop listening to Wall Street and start listening to Main Street."
The IAM is among the nation's largest industrial trade unions, representing nearly 700,000 active and retired members under more than 5,000 contracts in aerospace, manufacturing, transportation, shipbuilding and defense-related industries. For more information, visit www.goiam.org.