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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on How Failure of Colombia Labor Action Plan Illustrates Problems with U.S. Trade Model

Four years after the United States and Colombia signed the Labor Action Plan (LAP) to address entrenched labor rights violations, Colombian workers have suffered over 1,933 threats and acts of violence against unionists– including 105 assassinations of union activists and 1,337 death threats. These chilling numbers, provided by Colombia’s National Union School (Escuela Nacional Sindical, ENS in Spanish), do not include countless daily illegal firings, harassment, and other forms of retaliation against workers organizing unions that go unreported and unaddressed by Colombian authorities.

The latest report issued by the ENS demonstrates that there has been virtually no progress over the past year in compliance with the LAP. It is evident that the campaign of intimidation against Colombia’s workers struggling to defend their rights continues unabated.

The AFL-CIO continues to stand with its Colombian brothers and sisters in demanding real action and full compliance, and supports every effort to help Colombia move towards a sustainable peace that includes full respect for fundamental labor rights.

As the US government negotiates broad trade agreements with Europe and the Pacific Rim, it must look back at the LAP’s continued failure in protecting workers’ rights in Colombia, and not commit the same mistakes. It must ensure that these agreements deliver on the promises made for over twenty years about the broader benefits of expanding trade. Investors and companies have received these benefits. Workers in the U.S. and countries that are our trading partners have not. We deserve it. 

 Contact: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5018

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