Today’s decision by the Bush Administration to reject the AFL-CIO’s 301 trade petition is a slap in the face to Chinese and American workers, who expect our government to uphold the law. In rejecting this petition, President Bush has shown once again that he is beholden to corporate interests at the expense of working families.
The AFL-CIO, Rep. Chris Smith (R- NJ) and Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD), with the support of 29 members of the Congress and 11 U.S. Senators, called on the Bush Administration in June to take action under the Trade Act of 1974 to end the brutal suppression of workers’ rights in China and stop the flow of good U.S. jobs overseas.
It’s a travesty that after five years of failed trade policy that have contributed to the loss of almost three million U.S. manufacturing jobs and a record trade deficit of $726 billion, the Administration continues to take no meaningful action to support America’s workers or stop the abuse of workers in China.
In its press release announcing its decision to reject the petition, USTR mentioned numerous meetings, letters, and money spent to address labor rights violations in China over the past two years. But there are very few concrete improvements in conditions for Chinese workers, Chinese labor laws, or even enforcement of those laws that USTR can point to. And certainly, the enormous and lopsided bilateral trade deficit continues to spiral upwards – as do the lost jobs associated with that imbalance.
It’s clear that the Administration’s assertion that it has a better way to address the well-documented workers’ rights violations in China is nothing more than hollow rhetoric. In failing to address the systematic abuse of China’s workers by the Chinese government and multinational corporations, the Bush Administration has effectively turned its back on America’s workers while condoning the mistreatment of workers worldwide.
America’s workers are committed to holding our leaders accountable for bad trade policies that result in the loss of jobs and the repression of workers’ rights. In June alone, nearly 70,000 letters from workers across the nation were sent to President Bush and Congress urging him to take action to halt the abuse of China’s workers.
The AFL-CIO will continue to work aggressively with Congress to push the Administration to protect and value workers’ rights everywhere and support fair trade policies that uplift workers in the U.S. and abroad.
Contact Steve Smith 202-637-5018
Copyright © 2006 AFL-CIO
Bush administration rejects union petition on Chinese labor practices.
The U-S Trade Representative is rejecting an AFL-CIO petition calling for an investigation of labor practices in China.
The labor federation had asked for a one-year probe into workers' rights in China, on grounds that that Chinese labor practices could amount to unfair trade. The AFL-CIO filed a similar petition in April of 2004, which was also rejected.
The Washington Post reports:
If the petition is rejected, the AFL-CIO will consider its legal options, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit demanding the government begin a probe, Lee said.