AFT leaders sign letter opposing ‘fast-track’ trade deals
AFT PRESIDENT Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson are among the leaders of 60 unions, from across the economic spectrum, who signed a letter to Congress expressing opposition to fast-track authority, which is used to advance unfair trade deals.
“Fast-track trade deals mean fewer jobs, lower wages and a declining middle class,” the letter says. “Fast track has been used since the Nixon administration to advance deals, like NAFTA, that are sold to the American people as job creation measures. But these deals, written largely by and for the world’s largest corporations, don’t create jobs. Their main purpose isn’t even related to trade; it’s to enshrine rules that make it easier for firms to invest overseas and increase corporate influence over the global economy.”
The letter demonstrates the unity among workers who have jobs that are directly affected by bad trade deals, and those whose jobs are indirectly affected. It is part of a comprehensive campaign by the AFL-CIO, its affiliates and its allies against fast-track authority. The campaign included a lobby day on March 4, where union members from more than 20 states came to Washington, D.C., to lobby members to stop fast track.
AFT members were among the nearly 500 activists who met with legislators and their staff. Among them was Susan Vincent, a retired United Federation of Teachers member now living in Florida, who expressed concern for her former students. “I taught in East Harlem. Our goal as teachers was to make sure that the children graduated and went to college,” said Vincent. “We told them their ticket to a better life was education, but so many jobs are going overseas. Those job losses hurt the middle class. Who are we as a nation without a strong working and middle class?”