Upon their return from Colombia, People’s Weekly World reported that a delegation led by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez Thompson “met with leaders of the major Colombian labor federations who told them they were opposed” to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) because of “the harmful effects the deal would have on Colombian workers.”
What People’s Weekly neglected to mention was that the U.S. labor delegation went out of its way to avoid any encounters with the heads of the many trade unions in Colombia that support the deal. Over 80,000 Colombian workers in export industries like cut flowers, mining, petroleum products, coffee, textiles, sugar, and bananas support free trade with the U.S., but big labor does not want to hear about it.
As Commerce Secretary Carlos Guiterrez pointed out Tuesday, one of the best ways Congress could stimulate the economy is to pass pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Europe and China are currently moving aggressively to increase their share of global trade. Congress needs to stop keeping the U.S. on the sidelines and let us back into the game.