WASHINGTON - December 7 - U.S. Representatives Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA and twenty-six other House Members today are introducing legislation to protest the efforts of some U.S.-based transnational corporations (e.g. Microsoft, Nike, Wal-Mart, and AT&T) to undermine the most basic human rights of Chinese workers and block proposed new worker rights and labor standards protections in the proposed new Chinese labor law. The legislation calls upon President Bush to take several immediate actions to underscore the commitment of all Americans and our government to support internationally-recognized worker rights. (See corresponding October 31, 2006 letter to the White House that has received no response as yet.)
"We are appalled that the American Chamber of Commerce in China and some of America's most-prestigious, brand-name corporations are leading efforts inside China to weaken, if not block altogether, significant worker rights and protection provisions in the proposed Chinese labor law," Congresswoman Woolsey declared. "This shameful lobbying campaign is totally inconsistent with our country's long-standing commitment to promote respect for fundamental worker rights in law and practice everywhere. It is challenging enough for hard-working Americans to compete in the new global economy without having U.S. corporate leaders seeking to play them off against the least-protected and lowest-wage workers in the world."
"U.S. companies can't claim on the one hand to respect the basic human rights of all Chinese workers while at the same time working to prevent those workers from improving their working conditions and living standards," Congresswoman Lee underscored.
More specifically, the new legislation calls upon President Bush to take the following actions:
(1) instruct the U.S. Ambassador in China and the U.S. Trade Representative to deliver letters to Chinese Government officials in support of worker rights and protection provisions in the "Draft Labor Contract Law";
(2) repudiate the efforts of any U.S.-based corporations and their representatives doing business in China to weaken such provisions; and
(3) urge pertinent U.S.-based corporations and their representatives doing business in China to reverse their opposition and make clear their commitment to the universal rights of all Chinese workers and to improve their working conditions and living standards. Last month, Global Labor Strategies, Inc, a Boston-based
think tank, released a ground-breaking study entitled "Behind the Great Wall of China" that disclosed the details of this U.S. corporate campaign. Its findings were disclosed on the front page of the New York Times on October 13th.
"What our report uncovered was the opposition of U.S.-based corporations to even modest reforms of Chinese labor law. Their lobbying against expanded rights for Chinese workers casts serious doubt on their assertion that globalization will raise standards around the world. Congress should investigate the real impact of policies that promote corporate globalization and the effects on American workers." [A copy of the report is available at www.laborstrategies.org.]