The United States now has free trade agreements (FTAs) in force with 20 countries. These trade agreements are:
FTAs have always been sold to the U.S. public with claims that if countries simply lower their tariffs, goods will become cheaper and countries will produce what they are better at making while buying products they do not produce at cheaper prices from trading partners.
In reality, corporations have become more mobile than workers. Cheap consumer goods do not benefit workers who have no jobs and so no spare income to buy even the lowest-priced merchandise. Global corporations seek countries where they can pay the lowest wages possible. They also look for countries where workers have few or no rights to form unions and bargain for better wages and conditions. Global corporations seek to share the least revenue possible with the workers who create value for their employers. They would rather use the increased profits to line the pockets of CEOs. Few savings are passed on to consumers.
The AFL-CIO, in partnership with the Solidarity Center and the global labor movement, monitors how effectively our trade agreement partners ensure that their citizens can exercise core labor rights.
When countries allow employers to abuse workers and prevent them from exercising basic rights to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions, workers are harmed and wages and rights for workers everywhere are suppressed, creating a race to the bottom in which global corporations shop around for countries with low wages and weak workplace protections. To raise standards of living worldwide, workers everywhere must be empowered to better their lives.