One of WWFOR's main focus issues is Global Economic Justice.
WWFOR Global Economic Justice Webpage
a work in progress authored by Susan Donaldson with cooperation from other members of the WWFOR Issue Action Group for Global Economic Justice (from spring assemblies of 2000, 2001, & 2002)
FAST TRACK UPDATE(as of March 7, 2002) by Ramona Hinkle, Olympia FOR
The battle to prevent (p)Resident Bush for receiving Fast Track Authority (aka Presidential Trade Promotion Authority) is now nearing its first anniversary. While the ongoing specter of Fast Track may seem like a bad dream that you can't wake from, the fact that it still has not been approved by Congress is a tribute to the size of the opposition to it. If there was not a large coalition opposing it, Bush would have been negotiating the Free Trade Area of the Americas (aka FTAA, aka NAFTA on Steroids) with Fast Track in his pocket since last year.
Fast Track past in the House of Representatives by a margin of a single vote last December. This was a great disappointment to Fair Trade activist, especially since the vote was only won by severely bending House voting rules. Early this year the Senate passed out of the Finance Committee a slightly altered version of the Fast Track bill. Observers of the Free Trade vs Fair Trade debate say that Free Trade measures tend to pass the Senate easier then the House. However there are still at least two ways that Fast Track could be stopped this year.
1. Poison Pill Amendments: Some Democratic Senators are trying to add provisions to Fast Track that may make it easier for liberals to live with. One amendment is to provide for greater transitional assistance to workers that have lost their jobs because their jobs have been exported. This is called TAA. There is a controversial effort to make TAA benefits also available to second tier job losers. For example, the person at the parts factory that loses their job because the car factory was moved overseas. This amendment also extends COBRA benefits (the ability to buy health insurance through your ex-employer) to these workers as well.
Another amendment, proposed by Senator John Kerry, would say that no agreements negotiated under Fast Track could contain a NAFTA style Chapter 11. Chapter 11 is the part of NAFTA that gives investors special rights to sue governments through secretive private courts, when they feel that a new law harms their profitability.
If either of these well intentioned amendments were to become part of the Fast Track bill, the conventional wisdom says that Fast Track would fail in the Senate.
2. Assuming Fast Track survives the Senate, it will have to go through a Conference Committee and be voted on again by the House. The December House vote was so close and so ugly that it is again likely that there will be a close vote...which, with effort, could well go our way.
The important thing is to be vigilant and to remind our Congress members, on a regular basis, of the depth of our opposition to Fast Track.
The latest time line estimates are of a Senate vote in April and a House vote in May, June or even July (the closer to the 2002 elections the better).
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS: Please Call Sen Patty Murray 202-224-2621 Sen Maria Cantwell 202-224-3441 Rep Brian Baird 202-225-3536 Rep Adam Smith 202-225-8901
Principles from which we work and live:
1. Work should benefit real human needs. While we recognize that all human beings must provide for their needs, not all work leads to human betterment, and we should do what we can to help those in jobs that cause harm to the world (e.g. in factories making land mines) to find more fitting labor. No job should be justified just because it generates income.
2. The health of the earth should be protected and preserved as goods are being produced and services are being provided. Once again, no job should be justified just because it generates income, if it unduly harms the earth.
3. Workers should be recompensed justly for their toil. This means providing workers with a living wage, i.e. enough money to support a household with necessities for life in the local economy. In this regard, companies should see their primary responsibility to their workers and customers, not as providing generous dividends for their investors.
4. Workers should be accorded the respect and dignity they deserve. Their physical, mental, and emotional health should be protected, not compromised.
5. Unions are workers’ best protection from exploitation.
6. We should consume (or refuse to consume) goods and services in ways that protect the earth and provide for the needs of workers.
7. Free trade should be fair trade.
8. We support global awareness and empathy, but not corporate globalization.
Three worthwhile campaigns for action:
1. Opposing the Free Trade Area Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)
The contents of the FTAA have been being negotiated in secret (and thus fundamentally undemocratic) since 1994, but the agreement has been described as the expansion of NAFTA to all of the Western hemisphere, excepting Cuba, and thus seems designed mostly to protect industrial profits, with severe costs to the environment and labor rights likely.
One of the factors making the FTAA extremely dangerous (in addition to its secret nature) is that under it governments can be sued by companies for having established environmental- or labor-protection laws that can be claimed to restrict profit-making. Corporations or even small companies then have more power than nations themselves to control commerce within national boundaries.
Right now, we should oppose "Trade Promotion Authority" (formerly called "Fast Track"), which would give the President almost unlimited powers to negotiate trade agreements. Under Trade Promotion Authority, Congressional debate would be limited to 20 hours each in the House and the Senate, with no ability to attach amendments, and with strictly a yes/no vote.
A bill supporting such a Fast Track for the executive branch, the "Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2001" (HR 2149), was introduced in late June 2001 by Philip Crane (R-IL). Although earlier predicted to be voted on before the August Congressional recess, the bill is still in committee. We urge constituents to call or write their Representatives to oppose it. For more information and background, see www.citizen.org/pctrade/fasttrack/ftqa.htm, the "Recent Actions and Alerts" section of the Campaign for Labor Rights’ webpage, www.summersault.com/~agj/clr), or Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (www.citizen.org/pctrade/tradehome.html). Public Citizen, by the way, feels that HR 2149 is unlikely to pass, and therefore also urges that constituents ask their Members of Congress not to support any fast-track trade authorization not meeting the criteria of (1) mandatory negotiating objectives on the establishment of binding labor and environmental rules in future trade and investment agreements; (2) inclusion of such labor and environment provisions in the core text of future trade and investment agreements; (3) enforcement of labor and environment provisions on parity with commercial provisions; and (4) the enforceability of labor and environmental rules through trade sanctions.
2. Jubilee +
An outgrowth of Jubilee 2000, Jubilee + is a movement for worldwide economic justice, largely in the area of debt relief.
In wording from its website (http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/about/about.htm), "Jubilee + is committed to developing a new, more accountable and transparent process for sovereign lending, borrowing and debt negotiations - with human rights at the centre of its focus; highlighting and developing policies for financing development in a more self-reliant way, without recourse to dependency on foreign donors and creditors; opening up international financial institutions and markets to democratic scrutiny and accountability by civil society."
Jubilee +, New Economics Foundation, Cinnamon House, 6-8 Cole St., London SE1 4YH, UK; tel: (44) 207 407 7447; fax: (44) 207 407 6473
3. Anti-sweatshop/ "Clean clothes" campaigns
"Clean clothes" are those made under fair-labor, non-sweatshop conditions. In Thurston County, the major purpose of the clean-clothes campaign is to persuade municipal divisions (e.g. police and fire departments) not to buy uniforms made by sweatshop labor. However, just finding out the real source of clothing is difficult because of out-sourcing by many manufacturers.
Once clean sources are found, "sweatshop-free" labels for clothing from them would be handy, as would positive public announcements that the local municipal forces are wearing uniforms from them.
Additional suggestions for action:
Knowledgeable, deliberate, aware consumption [from the awareness that being consumers is part of the problem]
1. Cooperative food buying
2. Sponsoring local organic farms (e.g. CSA farms)
4. Using shopping guides like the Council for Economic Priorities’ Shopping for a Better World
5. Compiling a similar directory of local small, independent producers of goods/
markets/businesses we wish to sustain
6. Sponsoring local residents in learning useful trades (e.g. shoemaking) that would benefit the public (a long-term, but beneficial process)
7. Developing a local community currency (like that in Ithaca, NY) or means of bartering services
8. Affiliating with Jobs with Justice
Further educating ourselves and our chapters
Through speakers like
a. Lois Canright
b. Fred Miller
c. Sally Soriano
Through independent news/advice sources—e.g.
b. rabble rousers [http://rabble.ca/rabble_rousers.shtml]
c. The Simple Living network [http://www.simpleliving.net/newsletter]
a. Attending party caucuses—often enables one to submit items to the party platform
b. Creating relationships with legislators’ staff people
c. Writing legislators
d. Making appointments to talk with legislators directly (takes only 10-15 minutes, but much more effective than just letters, which are mostly just tallied, anyway)
e. Signing anti-FTAA proclamation
f. Getting local governmental bodies to come out formally against the FTAA
Working to stop Trade Promotion Authority(HR 2149), which bypasses Congress to give authority on trade matters just to the executive branch [see above]
Joining Jubilee Northwestcoalition to support debt relief to developing countries
Further networkingwith one another to share ideas, tactics, success stories, and advice
Groups and Related Websites
50 Years Is Enough—founded in 1994, coalition of over 200 U.S. social-justice organizations working to transform the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); focuses on "action-oriented economic literacy training, mobilization, and policy advocacy"; www.50years.org
Alliance for Global Justice—internship program for students interested in progressive activism around issues related to Latin America, US foreign policy, human and labor rights, and economic development; project of Campaign for Labor Rights; www.afgj.org/internships
Business and Human Rights—website maintained by Christopher Avery, international lawyer working independently on business/human rights issues; very up-to date information on large number of related topics; www.business-humanrights.org/
Campaign for Labor Rights—sweatshop news & updates; several related projects; $35 annual membership; extensive documents library on webpage on issues related to Nike, Disney, Guess, child labor, etc.; 1247 E Street SE, Washington, DC 20003; www.summersault.com/~agj/clr
Clean Clothes Campaign—international coalition campaign for workers’ rights and against global sweatshops; www.cleanclothes.org
Co-op America—promotes "practical steps for using … consumer and investor power for social change; produces helpful Co-op America Quarterly (Summer 2001 issue focuses specifically on sweatshop issues and fair trade) and annual National Green Pages (guide to environmentally friendly businesses"; www.coopamerica.org
Global Exchange—human-rights organization founded in 1988 to promote environmental, political, and social justice around the world; www.globalexchange.org
Global Trade Watch—branch of Public Citizen created in 1993 to promote government and corporate accountability in international commercial agreements; www.citizen.org/pctrade/tradehome.html
Jobs with Justice—a national campaign for workers’ rights, working through coalitions of labor, community, and religious organizations; www.jwj.org
Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN)—Canadian network promoting solidarity with groups in Mexico, Central America, and Asia organizing in maquiladora factories and export- processing zones to improve conditions and win a living wage; www.maquilasolidarity.org
The National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice—"network of people of faith that calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize and mobilize the religious community in the United States on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers"; has long list of related religious and labor sites; www.nicwj.org
The National Labor Committee (NLC)—human-rights advocacy group dedicated to promoting and defending the rights of workers. Currently sponsoring a "2001 Holiday Season of Conscience" in protection particularly of Bangladeshi garment workers and Chinese toymakers; www.nlcnet.org
NikeWatch—branch of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad that does just what its name suggests; www.caa.org.au/campaigns/nike; see also www.nikewages.org
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad—promotes a vision "of a fair world in which people control their own lives, their basic rights are achieved, and the environment is sustained"; www.caa.org.au
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch—founded by Ralph Nader in 1971, focuses on a large number of consumer issues, including labor rights; www.citizen.org
Resource Center of the Americas—gathers information and promotes social justice on a wide variety of issues in the western hemisphere; www.americas.org
STITCH—"network of U.S. women working to support women's organizing for a just wage and fair treatment on the job in Central America"; branch of Campaign for Labor Rights; religiously oriented; 4933 S. Dorchester, Chicago, IL 60615; tel: (773) 924-2738; www.afgj.org/stitch
Sweatshop Watch: "coalition of labor, community, civil rights, immigrant rights and women's organizations, attorneys and advocates committed to eliminating the exploitation that occurs in sweatshops"; www.sweatshopwatch.org
UNITE—Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (national apparel workers’ union), 1710 Broadway, New York, NY; has comprehensive resource center at www.behindthelabel.org
US/ Labor Education in the Americas Project (US/LEAP—formerly U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project)—independent non-profit organization supporting economic justice and basic rights for workers in Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico; focuses especially on the struggles of workers employed directly or indirectly by U.S. companies such as Starbucks (coffee), Chiquita (bananas), and Phillips-Van Heusen (clothing). www.usleap.org
United Students Against Sweatshops: international group whose purpose is just what its title suggests; not limited just to the textile industry; www.usasnet.org
United Farm Workers—union of farm workers founded by Cesar Chavez; seeks decent wages and working conditions for those working in agriculture; www.ufw.org
Working Assets—long-distance phone provider with a conscience; (800) 808-6398; www.workingassets.com
Printed Materials (just a minute selection of those available)
Andrews, Cecile. The Circle of Simplicity. New York: Harper Perennial, 1997—benefits to self and the world of living simply and consuming less
Aristide, Jean-Bertrand. Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, ed. by Laura Flynn. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000—re-elected President Aristide examines how free trade has worsened living conditions in Haiti and suggests hopeful alternatives
Co-op America Quarterly, Summer 2001: "Guide to Ending Sweatshops" [see above]
Dollars and Sense (subtitle: "what’s left in economics")—bimonthly focusing on economic issues; $18.95/yearly subscription; 740 Cambridge Street; Cambridge, MA 02141
"Globalization in Our Front Yard"—pamphlet regarding various economic issues, available from Campaign for Labor Rights (see address & website above)
Guns, Greed, and Globalization. 25-article anthology of connections between global capitalism and the global war machine. $5 each, plus $1 postage. Available from War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; (212) 228-0450; www.warresisters.org
Lasn, Kalle. Culture Jam: The Uncooling of America™. New York: Eagle Brook, 1999— urges dynamic resistance to corporate takeover of North American lives
Shopping for a Better World—guide to 200 of the Fortune 500 companies on the basis of their treatment of workers and the environment, © 2000; available from Council on Economic Priorities, 30 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003; www.cepnyc.org; or through Working Assets telephone network
Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures ($24 for one year—four issues), ed. by David Korten; P.O. Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-0818; tel. (206) 842-0216
Film & Video
Deadly Embrace: Nicaragua, the World Bank, and the IMF—video, newly updated, available in English and Spanish, $30 + $3 shipping & handling, from Campaign for Labor Rights, or through Marisa Vitale (617) 666-5122
Global Village or Global Pillage?—video, available through WWFOR office
The Golf War, directed by Jen Schradie & Matt DeVries. 2000. Description of Filipino community resistance to government takeover of farmland for development into a golf course and tourist resort. Available from Bullfrog Films, P.O. Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; (610) 779-8226; www.bullfrogfilms.com
Life and Debt –award-winning documentary examining the relationship between the cultures of the so-called "developed" and "developing" nations in the modern global market. Using Jamaica as its example, the film investigates the history of the IMF and other lending institutions, and the effects of their policies on the day-to-day lives of the people living in countries under their tutelage over the past 25 years. www.lifeanddebt.org
Secrets of Silicon Valley—powerful and funny film chronicling a tumultuous year for two young activists grappling with rapid social change and the meaning of globalization on their own doorsteps. www.secretsofsiliconvalley.org
Stolen Futures—a brief history of sweatshop labor in America, coupled with an overview of current examples of exploitation of workers in many countries; available from American Federation of Teachers, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001-2079; (202) 879-4420; www.aft.org
Additional Economic Justice Links of interest
Banneker Center for Economic justice www.progress.org/banneker/
Economic Justice Network www.progress.org/ejn/
Center for Economic Justice www.econjustice.net/
Center for Economic and Social Justice www.cesj.org/
information compiled by Ramona Hinkle, Olympia Chapter; Susan Donaldson, Tacoma Chapter; and Larry Kerschner, Fire Mountain chapter, email@example.com, updated May 1, 2002
web pages maintained by Jean Buskin, Seattle Chapter, firstname.lastname@example.org
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