“Free trade agreements.” Many union members and other workers might tell you that so-called FTAs (of which NAFTA—the North American Free Trade Agreement—is the most well-known) haven’t been effective at creating jobs or raising standards of living—and they’d be right. But what are these FTAs, really?
Well, first of all, “free trade agreements” are only somewhat about trade and have very little to do with making it “free.” At least if we are talking about U.S.-style trade agreements since 1993, when NAFTA went into effect.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council called for a “high-wage” economic strategy, a new trade model and universal voter registration coupled with vigorous protection of the right to vote at its February meeting in Orlando, Fla., today. The Executive Council also addressed gender equality and commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington .
In its statement on economic strategy, the council says, “There is something fundamentally wrong with the U.S. economy,” that has resulted in “the stagnation of wages and incomes that has crippled the American middle class for more than a generation.”
At its February meeting, the AFL-CIO Executive Council, representing 57 affiliate unions, adopted several statements that covered energy and jobs, workers' rights and the National Labor Relations Board and immigration, among other things.
The AFL-CIO's Executive Council February meeting kicked off this morning in Orlando, Fla., welcoming two new council members and presenting two new charters for Actors' Equity and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).
The agenda for shared prosperity builds upon an understanding of the central role of workers, their unions and collective bargaining to address the full range of our society’s economic ills—our jobs and infrastructure deficits, our housing crisis, the hollowing out of our manufacturing sector, the disconnect between wages and productivity, the health care and retirement security crisis and the particular toll that these crises have taken on communities of color and women.
"Republicans are holding the middle class hostage to their demands on behalf of the richest 2 percent of Americans,” said the AFL-CIO Executive Council in a statement from its August meeting in Washington, D.C., this week. And, the council emphasized:
There can be no excuse for giving in to their demands to extend tax cuts for the 2 percent; cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits; tax workers’ health benefits; or sacrifice middle-class jobs.
All efforts to privatize, outsource, reduce, undermine, politicize, underpay or undervalue the work performed on behalf of working families by our federal workforce should be vigorously opposed, wrote the AFL-CIO Executive Council yesterday. The council adopted a policy statement, "Federal Employees Already Have Given Enough," during its August meeting in Washington, D.C., this week. A total of 2.6 million civilian employees in the federal government do everything from making sure our veterans receive their benefits to processing Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, collection, processing, and delivery of mail and so much more.
New members were elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council this morning. Sean McGarvey, president of the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), will fill the seat of former President Mark Ayers, and Laura Reyes, secretary-treasurer for AFSCME, will fill the seat of retiring AFSCME President Gerry McEntee. AFSCME President Lee Saunders was named chair of the Executive Council Political Committee.
The Washington Post recently ran a lengthy article explaining the difficulties Americans face in providing for a secure retirement, as traditional pension plans become less common and 401(k) savings accounts prove to be frighteningly inadequate.
But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka points out that this whole discussion about retirement security fails to mention an obvious solution staring at us right in the face. It’s called Social Security.