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(11,641 posts)
Sun Jul 3, 2016, 10:48 PM Jul 2016

Workers murdered for unionizing in 3rd world countries won't effect trade deals [View all]

Sure it's a great deal for corporations but how is that a good trade deal for actual people that must earn a living in these countries?

AFL-CIO's Trumka: USTR Told Us Murder Isn't A Violation Under U.S. Trade Deals

By Michael McAuliff - 04/22/2015 7:32 am EDT

WASHINGTON -- Defenders of the White House push for sweeping trade deals argue they include tough enforcement of labor standards. But a top union leader scoffed at such claims Tuesday, revealing that administration officials have said privately that they don’t consider even the killings of labor organizers to be violations of those pacts.

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, testified to that claim at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on legislation to grant President Barack Obama so-called fast-track authority to cut at least two new enormous trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union. It appears to be the first time anyone has revealed such a stance on the part of a U.S. government that has been touting its efforts to improve wages and working conditions among its trading partners, relying in part on trade agreements.

But Trumka charged that the labor standards included in those trade deals are poorly enforced, and that before he would back the White House’s push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, he wanted to see tougher labor provisions that could be enforced.

"When you say, ‘Oh these are some standards, they’re better than no standards,’ we were told by by the {United States Trade Representative} general counsel that murdering a trade unionist doesn’t violate these standards, that perpetuating violence against a trade unionist doesn’t violate these agreements,” Trumka said, directing his remarks to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who backs the deals

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American corporations do business as usual under CAFTA while union leaders and workers are slaughtered in those countries. There are no penalties. Trade does not stop. Case in point Guatemala:

Guatemala: 68 Union Leaders Murdered before a Single Arrest

On Saturday, Guatemala’s Ministry of Justice announced the capture of three individuals responsible for the murder of trade unionist Carlos Hernández. Hernández was secretary of culture on the executive committee of the National Union of Health Workers, and one of many in the long list of trade unionists murdered each year in Guatemala.+


Since 2007, a total of 68 trade union leaders and representatives have been murdered, and a high number of attempted murders, kidnappings, break-ins, and death threats have been reported, along with torture. Yet, before the capture of these three individuals, not one culprit had been brought to justice.+

The many years of unaccounted murders have “created a culture of fear and violence where the exercise of trade union rights becomes impossible,” according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).+


International organizations such as Amnesty International and Going to Work have on several occasions denounced the abuses against Guatemalan unionists and the state’s negligence on the matter. Banana trade unions have been the most heavily affected industry as a result of the escalated violence, according to Going to Work. Large-scale anti-union plantations of the South Pacific coast — now responsible for over 80 percent of exports — remain a place where local banana workers cannot organize. If they do, just as they tried back in 2008, they face harassment, threats, and potentially death...



AFL-CIO, Guatemalan Trade Unions Call for Reinstitution of Arbitral Panel After Flawed “Enforcement Plan” Failed to Protect Basic Workers’ Rights

October 22, 2013

Over 50 Guatemalan trade unionists killed, five years after the U.S. and Guatemalan trade unions filed a CAFTA petition

(Washington, DC, October 22) – Recognizing the failure of the “Enforcement Plan” to protect the fundamental workers’ rights of Guatemalan workers under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the AFL-CIO and the largest Guatemalan trade unions sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Trade Representative, and to the Guatemalan Ministers of Labor and Economy calling for reinstitution of the arbitral panel. The “Enforcement Plan” was signed by both governments on April 26, 2013.

More than five years after the U.S. and Guatemalan trade unions filed the CAFTA petition, 50 Guatemalan trade unionists have been killed, and thousands of workers continue to be harassed, abused, and denied basic workplace protections. Using the Enforcement Plan, the Government of Guatemala has further delayed arbitration and the possibility of justice for workers. This plan has not given workers reason to hope that their rights will be protected and respected, or that the violations will be remedied.

“This plan has made advances on paper, such as the creation of a Rapid Response Team to rein in the worst employers, yet the team has taken no real actions to defend workers. The U.S. government must insist on concrete actions, not just new bureaucracies,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “If the U.S. government is serious about defending labor rights in its trade agreements, and the government of Guatemala continues to fail in these and other areas detailed in our joint statement, the U.S. government must call to restart the arbitration process.”



Justice delayed…the long road of the Guatemala CAFTA complaint



On April 23, 2008, six Guatemalan trade unions and the AFL-CIO filed a complaint alleging that the Government of Guatemala was failing to enforce its domestic labor laws, highlighting cases of anti-union discrimination, unscrupulous employers refusing to pay minimum wages and provide legally required benefits, and a systematic failure to investigate and prosecute violence against trade unionists.

In January, 2009, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report finding systemic failures in the enforcement of Guatemalan labor laws, but declined to invoke formal labor consultations (the first step under CAFTA towards enforcing a complaint), instead providing the Guatemalan government with an initial six month period to address the issues raised in the report. In a pattern that would repeat itself, the U.S. granted multiple extensions on this initial deadline, despite little evidence that the Guatemalan government was taking the necessary steps to address the systematic failures.

On July 30, 2010, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it would proceed with the trade enforcement case against Guatemala by requesting formal consultations under Chapter 16, the first labor case ever initiated against a trade partner.

Finally, in August, 2011, after the formal labor consultations failed to yield significant improvements, USTR announced it was ready to proceed to arbitration of the dispute, a process that could require Guatemala to pay fines of up to $15 million per year into a fund earmarked for projects to improve labor rights enforcement.

Yet at that decisive moment, the U.S. government blinked, agreeing to yet another delay while both governments negotiated a “labor enforcement plan,” which was not signed until April, 2013. When Guatemala missed the enforcement plan’s one year implementation deadline in February, 2014, USTR granted an additional four month extension. Only after Guatemala could not meet this final deadline did USTR announce, once again, that it was ready to proceed with the arbitration process.


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