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USW Opposes Camp-Baucus Fast Track Proposal

Calls for New Approach to Trade Policies that Don't Fuel Income Disparity

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement in response to today's introduction of legislation by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp to grant President Obama expedited and preferential trade negotiating authority historically known as "fast track."

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"This is the wrong proposal at the wrong time. It is wrong for American workers and will only continue to take us further down the road in the wrong direction. Why on earth would we want to simply continue doing things the old way, when it's resulted in rising trade deficits, more manufacturing job losses and greater income inequality?

"It's time for a new approach to trade. Past negotiating objectives, with only minimal changes by the two Chairmen, are being offered as the basis for future trade policies.   But today's trade policies have fueled historic trade deficits and left our trading partners with bags of U.S. dollars and millions of American jobs. More of the same will only yield more outsourced and offshored jobs and shattered dreams.

"Since the mid-1990s, the United States has amassed $10 trillion in trade deficits in goods. Over the last several years, the pace of trade deficits in goods has accelerated to roughly $900 billion a year. This deficit in goods fuel unacceptably high job losses and result in diminished economic growth. It is also increasing income inequality in our country.

"In the past, Congress has provided fast track trade negotiating authority without any procedural guarantees that the objectives set down will actually be achieved. It's no wonder that trade agreement after trade agreement has failed to measure up. The Baucus-Camp proposal fails to take any real steps to make sure that Congressional negotiating objectives are met and more importantly, designed to ensure that increased trade results in more jobs and growing incomes for America's working families.

"Procedural reforms are vital, but updating the process without revising the underlying policy approach is unacceptable.  New procedures and greater transparency cannot undo the damage that is being done by trade policies like permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) for China and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.  Our negotiators should not be able to pick and choose which negotiating objectives are important and which to ignore, and no trade agreement should be protected from Congressional amendments if it fails to achieve all of the objectives that Congress sets.

"We all recognize that America's trade deficits result from a failure to pursue programs and policies that give our companies and workers the tools they need to compete.  Any consideration of new negotiating authority should be coupled with an effective toolbox for our producers and their workers.  And despite the fact that compensating workers harmed by its nation's trade policies should not be linked to fast track, a permanent extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance is both necessary and appropriate. Workers should not have to beg for help when they lose their jobs because of our country's trade policies and ameliorating their misery should not be used as a tool to gain support for Congress ceding its authority to amend trade agreements.

"Unfettered fast track, as the Camp-Baucus proposal calls for, is a recipe for continued outsourcing and offshoring of jobs.  The American people are sick and tired of one-way trade. The USW will vigorously oppose the proposal and any efforts to provide preferential and expedited treatment for trade deals that fail to reform and update our nation's trade policies and allow negotiations to continue to be cloaked in secrecy."

The USW is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies. For more information: www.usw.org.

Contact: Wayne Ranick, (412) 562-2444, wranick@usw.org

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

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