For Immediate Release
Andy Gussert, Coalition Director
Phone (202) 494-8826
Hundreds of Organizations Unite to Support a New Day in Trade Policy
Over 345 Faith, Farm, Environmental & Labor Groups Pledge to Back Promise of Reform
WASHINGTON - In a letter sent to members of Congress yesterday, 347
national, state and local organizations from across the country,
representing over eighteen million combined members, vowed to support
promises of change made by scores of successful candidates during the
2008 election, and to help "replace the failed trade policies of the
past with those that deliver broadly shared benefits."
The letter, sent by a diverse coalition of faith, family farm,
environmental, labor, and consumer groups, promised help push reform,
pledging "As the new Congress begins, we look forward to working with
you and the Obama Administration to seize this opportunity to create
better rules for trade policy."
"Free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea represent
more-of-the-same failed model backed by the Bush Administration, and
strongly rejected by voters," said Andy Gussert, CTC coalition
director. "Hundreds of groups are now organizing, rolling up their
sleeves, and pushing for reform, including support for Buy American
provisions in the stimulus package."
At this time, not one environmental, faith or labor organization in
America endorses passage of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in its
current form, but many are pushing to construct trade agreements that
can gain a majority of congressional support.
Trade reform dominated Congressional races across the country in
2008, with more than one hundred different paid campaign ads focusing
on problems with NAFTA, CAFTA, offshoring and unsafe imports. A record
one hundred and five distinct campaign ads were produced by
Congressional, Senate and Presidential campaigns.
In 2008, 42 newly elected Freshman Senators and Representatives ran
on reforming the U.S. trade model. They joined over two dozen fair
traders first elected in 2006, making a combined total of 71 reformers
replacing those who previously supporting the status quo system based
on the failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"Candidates ran hard on trade reform, and they won. Voters sent a
clear message - we support change," added Gussert. "We want to let
these newly elected trade champions know we support their campaign
message, and are here to help keep those promises."
In 2008 campaign spots, candidates supported "made-in-America tax
break to keep jobs right here," and highlighted how opponents "voted
for tax giveaways to companies that move jobs overseas." Many promised
to "oppose job killing trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA, which cost our
state jobs." Some challengers reminded voters that the opponent "cast
the deciding vote on CAFTA" and "sided with George Bush on trade
policies to move our jobs overseas."
Barack Obama posted more than a dozen separate ads on trade reform,
including specific spots about mills shutting down as we offshore jobs,
and another on McCain purchasing foreign made automobiles. Obama also
rolled out radio spots criticizing McCain for the procurement position
on switching to foreign made motorcycles, rather than using
Harley-Davidson to supply the U.S. Secret Service. In June, John
McCain ran a pro-free-trade ad in Florida, supporting passage of the
stalled Colombia Trade Agreement.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that a "free trade
agreement" has had a negative effect on their families. GOP voters, by
a two-to-one majority, agree that foreign trade has been bad for the
U.S. economy, because imports from abroad have reduced demand for
American-made goods, cost jobs here at home, and produced potentially
unsafe products. Majorities oppose NAFTA across every demographic,
making reform the predominate view of voters across the country.
Several 2008 Senate races, including Jeff Merkley in Oregon and Kay
Hagen in North Carolina, also made trade a centerpiece of their
campaign messages. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran
seven trade ads across five states with top races. In 2006, nine
Senate challengers beat incumbents while running on fair trade reform
policies. All nine of those Senators then went on to vote against the
next free trade agreement put before the Senate, in December of 2007.
To see the letter supporting a new day in trade, visit our website at www.citizenstrade.org
Citizens Trade Campaign is a coalition of labor, environmental, religious, family farm, civil society and consumer organizations united in the pursuit of social and environmental justice in trade policy. Formed in 1992 to reform NAFTA, our more than fourteen million combined members support trade policy that reflects the interests of a majority of people in America, and across the world.