All Out August 16 to Cancel NAFTA, Tear Down the Wall of Shame, and Support Farm Workers in San Quintin (Baja California, Mexico) and North Carolina!

All Out August 16 to Cancel NAFTA, Tear Down the Wall of Shame, and Support Farm Workers in San Quintin (Baja California, Mexico) and North Carolina!

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

At the Third Labor Fightback Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21-23, the participants agreed to promote a multi-pronged campaign to Cancel NAFTA, Tear Down the Wall of Shame/No More Deportations, and Support Labor Rights on Both Sides of the Border (beginning with support for farmworkers in North Carolina and in San Quintin, Mexico).

In this packet [below and attached], you will find the documents needed to promote the campaign. We hope you will join us in the fight for these vital demands in defense of workers’ interests.

The Campaign will be launched on August 16, the day that the NAFTA Renegotiation talks open in Washington, DC. 

On this day, the Sacramento chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA-AFL-CIO), the National Democratic Independent Union of Agricultural Workers (SINDJA) of Mexico, the Alianza Nacional Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social, and dozens of labor and community organizations on both sides of the border are calling for a Day of Actions to Cancel NAFTA and for International Solidarity with San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico, Driscoll’s Workers (who have been fighting for many years to obtain a collective-bargaining agreement and improved wages and working conditions) and in Solidarity with the FLOC Workers (who are fighting to defend their union and their collective-bargaining agreements in North Carolina).

[For more information about the Reynolds Boycott, contact Baldemar Velasquez at <flocoh@floc.com>. For more information about the Driscoll’s boycott, contact Al Rojas, Sacramento LCLAA, at <nadm916@aol.com>. Also view the attached documents.]

To promote this cross-border fightback, 100 unionists and activists in the United States and Mexico are calling upon their sisters and brothers to work together to build a broad-based binational conference around the common fightback demands listed above. [See appeal below, with the first list of endorsers.] It will be a two-part conference to accommodate Mexican labor rights activists who are unable to cross the border into the U.S. The first session of the conference will be held this fall in the Los Angeles area; the second session will be held in Mexico City early next year. (The dates and places of these two sessions will be made available shortly.)

We urge you to:

* organize an action in your city on August 16 to call for the cancellation of NAFTA and to promote the Driscoll’s boycott and to pledge your support to the RJ Reynolds boycott — (please report your actions to Brothers Al Rojas and Baldemar Velasquez, with a copy to us at the Labor Fighback Network);  

and

* endorse and help us build the Binational Conference to Cancel NAFTA, Tear Down the Wall of Shame/No More Deportations, and Support Labor Rights on Both Sides of the Border (beginning with support for farmworkers in North Carolina and in San Quintin). 

We thank you in advance for your support to this effort.

In solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the

Labor Fightback Network (LFN)

* * * * * * * * * *

CALL:

Together, Workers, Community Activists, and Youth in Mexico and the United States: Let’s Organize a Broad-Based Binational Fightback Conference to:

• Tear Down the Wall of Shame; Not One More Deportation!

• Stop NAFTA and CAFTA!

• Stop All Privatizations and Counter-Reforms!

• Support Workers’ Rights to Unionization and

  Collective Bargaining on Both Sides of the Border!

Shortly after 9/11, the administration of George W. Bush moved to tighten “border security,” ultimately leading to the adoption of the Secure Fence Act in October 2006 that created a fortified wall and a virtual fence (with sensors and cameras) over 700 miles of the 1,990-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

A policy of massive deportations, punctuated by workplace raids, accompanied the expansion of the border fence. Over the eight years of the Obama administration, more than 3 million people from Mexico and Central America were deported. During this same period, hundreds died of heat exhaustion in the burning Arizona desert trying to secure a better life for their families. Many more were gunned down by vigilantes, whose crimes often went unpunished.

Today, Donald Trump — in an openly racist drive to scapegoat immigrants for all the ills of a failed U.S. corporate economy — is proposing to build a wall over the entire border and increase the number of deportees to more than

700,000 per year, more than double the number under the Obama administration.

This Wall of Shame, as it is called on both sides of the border, is the outcome of more than 20 years of U.S.-imposed “free trade” policies (NAFTA and CAFTA, in particular) that have destroyed Mexico’s economy, turning a sovereign nation into one big maquiladora pass-through sweatshop for the transnational corporations. These policies have forced millions of Mexican and Central American peasants, workers, and youth to flee to the United States in the hope of finding a way to feed their families.

In Mexico, NAFTA has been the main weapon of the U.S. transnational corporations to promote so-called “reforms” — in reality counter-reforms — aimed at privatizing railroads, Mexico’s national oil corporation (PEMEX), telecommunications, electricity, mining, public education, and other public enterprises and services, including healthcare. NAFTA destroyed the nation’s agricultural production; today 45% of what is consumed in Mexico in basic products comes from abroad. Mexico now depends on the United States for beans, corn, rice, sugar, and wheat. NAFTA also destroyed Mexico’s meat industry; U.S. imports of meat have grown by 750 percent over the past 25 years.

These “free trade” policies have gone hand in hand with treaties aimed at militarizing Mexico’s police force to repress all social protest, which has not abated despite the mass killings of students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, or teachers in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca. The “free trade” agreements have also provided the legal basis for destroying unions and collective-bargaining agreements, which — together with all public enterprises and services — are characterized as “barriers to ‘free trade’.”

It must be said and repeated: All U.S. administrations beholden to the corporate “free trade” agenda are responsible for the mass migration to the United States of workers, peasants, and youth from Mexico and Central America!

The Wall of Shame and NAFTA represent an assault of the sovereignty and people of Mexico, but they also represent an assault on workers and entire communities in the United States, where full-time jobs with benefits have been destroyed and unions have been dismantled under the bosses’ threats to shut down and outsource the plants to countries with lower wages south of the border.

Today, the Wall of Shame stands as a symbol of policies aimed at denying healthcare coverage to millions of people, preventing unions from organizing and defending their members (proposal to enact a federal “right-to-work” law), penalizing cities and states that prevent local police from collaborating with ICE (assault on sanctuary cities), and dismantling public education (through vouchers and the expansion of charter schools)

Today, Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are talking about “renegotiating NAFTA.” In some quarters, illusions have been sown that this could mean improvements for working people on both sides of the border. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Trump promised to break with Wall Street to help Main Street; instead he filled his cabinet with Wall Street execs. He promised to improve healthcare; instead, he is seeking to dismantle Medicaid and take away healthcare coverage from 23 million low-income people to line the pockets of his billionaire cronies. He promised to defend workers and their jobs; instead, by pushing a federal “right to work” (for less) law, he has set out to dismantle the only organizations through which workers are able to preserve their jobs and benefits: the trade unions.

Trump is out to “renegotiate NAFTA” — but only to benefit U.S. corporations, NOT to benefit workers in Mexico or the United States. The new agreement that Trump is pushing will only deepen the attacks on working people and their organizations, primarily their unions.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Peña Nieto has appointed Luis Videgaray as his foreign-relations secretary; he is the man who will be “renegotiating” NAFTA. Videgaray is Wall Street’s man in Mexico. As Peña Nieto’s former Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, he has implemented all the counter-reforms that are destroying the Mexican nation in the interests of the U.S. banksters and their Mexican junior partners. Rather than stand up to Trump to defend Mexico’s sovereignty, these country-selling politicians are offering to do Trump’s bidding, with an occasional whimper of protest (to save face).

More than ever, workers and youth need to reach out across the border and unite in an independent struggle to tear down the Wall of Shame, stop NAFTA and CAFTA, and stop and reverse all the policies emanating from the “free trade” corporate agenda. We have the same interests, and we are waging the same struggles to protect our interests as working people.

To promote this cross-border fightback, we, the undersigned unionists and activists call upon our sisters and brothers on both sides of the border to endorse this appeal and promote it as widely as possible among your labor and community organizations. Let’s work together to build a broad-based binational conference around these common demands, the date and place to be determined by the initial signatories.

• Tear Down the Wall of Shame!

• Not One More Deportation!

• Stop NAFTA and CAFTA!

• Stop All Privatizations and Counter-Reforms!

• Support Workers’ Rights to Unionization and 

Collective Bargaining on Both Sides of the Border!

*   *   *

INITIAL ENDORSERS

(Note: All titles and organizations for individuals are listed for identification only)

ENDORSERS IN THE UNITED STATES;

• Baldemar Velasquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC, AFL-CIO),  Toledo, OH;

• Alan Benjamin, Member, Continuations Committee, Mumbai Conference Against War &    Exploitation, Delegate, SF Labor Council, San Francisco, CA;

• Eduardo Rosario, President, New York City Labor Council for, Latin American    Advancement (AFL-CIO), Brooklyn, NY;

• Nativo Lopez, Senior Advisor, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional “La Original”, Los Angeles,  CA;

• Chris Silvera, Secretary-Treasurer, Local 808 International Brotherhood of Teamsters,  Long Island City, NY;

• Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer Emerita, OPEIU, Washington, DC;

• Al Rojas, LCLAA-Sacramento AFL-CIO, Sacramento, CA;

• Saladin Muhammad, Southern Workers Assembly, Rocky Mount, NC;

•  Colia Clark, National Coordinator, Judicial Violence Symposium, Harlem, NY;

• William I. Robinson, Professor of Global and International Studies, UCSB, Santa  Barbara, CA;

• Sara Flounders, Co-Director, International Action Center, New York, NY;

• Erin McKee, President, South Carolina AFL-CIO, Mt. Pleasant, SC;

• Joe Lombardo, Co-Coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), Delmar, NY;

• Itzel Medina, Immigrant rights organizer, San Francisco, CA;

• Clarence Thomas, Past Secretary-Treasurer (retired), ILWU Local 10,, Co-chair, Million    Worker March Movement, Oakland, CA;

• Rodrigo Toscano, Labor Institute / United Steelworkers, National Projector Director for Health, Safety, and Environment, New Orleans, LA;

• Donna Dewitt, President Emeritus, South Carolina AFL-CIO, Swansea, SC;

• Katherine Black, Co-Convener, US Labor Against the War, Philadelphia, PA;

• David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, Campaign Coordinator of    RootsAction.org, Charlottesville, VA;

• Nnamdi Lumumba, State Organizer, Ujima People’s Progress Party, Baltimore, MD;

• Gene Bruskin, Co-Founder, USLAW; trade unionist, Silver Spring, MD;

• Jim Lafferty, Executive Director Emeritus, National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles, CA;

• Mary Prophet, Member, USLAW Nat’l Steering Committee, Delegate, Alameda County    Labor Committee, Berkeley, CA;

• Ralph Schoenman, Taking Aim, Vallejo, CA;

• Mya Shone, Taking Aim, Vallejo, CA;

• Allan Fisher, AFT 2121 delegate to , San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco, CA;

• Traven Leyshon, President, Green Mountain Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Montpelier, VT;

• Julia John, Ujima People’s Progress Party, Baltimore, MD;

• Laurence H. Shoup, UAW 1981 ret., Oakland, CA;

• Melina Juárez, Ph.D Candidate, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM;

• Dennis Gallie, UAW 249 retired member, Kansas City, MO;

• Rodger Scott, Past President, AFT 2121, Current Executive Board Member & Delegate to   the San Francisco Labor Council, San Francisco, CA;

• Jerry Levinsky, Steering Committee, Labor Fightback Network, Member, SEIU 509,    Amherst, MA;

• Haldon C. Sutton, Executive Board Member at Large, SW Florida UAW Retired  Workers Council (for id only), North Port, FL;

• Larry Duncan, CWA 14408 (Retired), Chicago, IL;

• James M. Wallrabenstein, Social Justice Activist, Spokane, WA;

• Lindsay Curtis, Editorial Board, The Organizer Newspaper, Sacramento, CA;

• Elizabeth C Wright, Social justice activist, San Francisco, CA;

• Steve Early, Member, Richmond Progressive Alliance, and Pacific Media Workers  Guild/News Guild/CWA, Richmond, CA;

• Thomas Bias, National Secretary, Labor Fightback Network, Flanders, NJ;

• Gayle McLaughlin, Former Mayor of Richmond, CA and  Candidate for Lt. Governor of    California 2018, Richmond, CA;

• Timothy Stinson, Socialist Organizer, Albany, OR;

• Don Bryant, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, President, Cleveland, OH;

• C.T. WeberPeace and Freedom Party of California, Legislative Committee Chair,    Sacramento, CA;

• Rolando Revilla Jr., FLOC, Toledo, OH;

• Julian Kunnie, First Nations Enforcement Agency, Tucson, AZ;

• Mark Weber, Social justice activist, Cleveland, OH;

• Dan Kaplan , Executive Secretary, AFT Local 1943, the San Mateo Community College    Federation of Teachers, San Mateo, CA ;

• Michael Carano, Teamsters Local 348, retired, Tallmadge, OH;

• Carol E Gay, President, NJ State Industrial Union Council, Brick, NJ;

• Jeffrey Segal, National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local 2320,    Louisville, KY;

• David Walters, Member, IBEW 1245 (retired), San Francisco, CA;

• Millie Phillips, Steering Committee, Labor Fightback Network, Oakland, CA;

• Todd Jelen, Member, American Federation of Musicians (AFL-CIO), Brook Park, OH;

• Sarah-Emily Carter, Administration Assistant, South Carolina AFL-CIO, Swansea, SC;

• Mary Findley, Vice Chair, Lorain County Forward, Amherst, OH;

•  Cindy Fanderys, Peace Action (retiree), Cleveland, OH;

• Cindy Sheehan, Executive Director, Cindy Sheehan Soapbox, Vacaville, CA;

• Bill Shields, Member, AFT 2121, San Francisco, CA;

• Barry Hermanson, SF Green Party, San Francisco, CA.

ENDORSERS IN MEXICO;

• Luis Carlos Haro, OPT Tijuana, Coordinador Campaña Binacional en México;

• Alianza de Organizaciones Nacional Estatal y Municipal por la Justicia Social, San    Quintin, Baja California;

• Sindicato Independiente Nacional de Jornaleros Agrícolas (SINDJA);

• Comisión Ciudadana de Derechos Humanos del Noroeste, A.C;

• Fidel Sanchez, Secretario General, Alianza, San Quintin, BC;

• Bonifacio Martínez Cruz, Dirigente, Alianza, San Quintin, BC;

• Lorenzo Rodriguez Jimenez, Secretario General, SINDJA;

• Venustiano Cruz Hernández, Dirigente, Alianza, San Quintin, BC;

• Octavio Angel Lopez, Dirigente, Alianza, San Quintin, BC;

• Fernando Serrano Monroy, Secretario General del Sindicato Único Independiente de los   Colegios de Bachilleres de Chiapas SUITCOBACH;

• Fernanda Justo, OPT Jalisco;

• Mario Roldán Robledo, Dirigente del Consejo Central de Lucha de la Sección 40 SNTE –   CNTE;

• Muriel Gómez, Dirigente del Consejo Central de Lucha de la Sección 40 SNTE – CNTE;

• Daniel Gómez Mesa, Nueva Central de Trabajadores Sindicalista de la Sección 7 del  SNTE- CNTE, región Frontera Comalapa;

• Daniel Martínez Velasco, Comisión promotora de la Nueva Central de Trabajadores sur  sureste de México;

• Raúl Drouvalliet Patiño, Coordinadora Nacional de Petroleros Mexicanos, Villahermosa,  Tabasco;

• Mario Díaz Ortega, Coordinadora en Defensa de PEMEX, Minatitlán, Veracruz;

• José Raúl Calleja Lacorti, Coordinadora Estatal Democrática de la Sección 50 de SNTSA;

• Susana Prieto Terrazas, Asociación Obrer@s Maquiler@s de Ciudad Juárez y Movimiento de Resistencia Civil del Estado de Chihuahua;

• Fredy Rodríguez Méndez, sindicalista Sección 7 SNTE- CNTE;

• Roger Cerda Medina, Secretario de Organización de la Delegación D-IV 9 Jubilados y  Pensionados;

• Carlos Misael Palma López, CORCI México;

• Melquiades Velueta Velueta, Coordinadora Democrática de la Salud, Sección 50,  SNTSA, región Palenque, Chiapas;

• Russel Aguilar Brindis, Secretario General Delegacional Escuelas Secundarias Técnicas, Sección VII SNTE-CNTE;

• Gilberto Montes Vázquez, OPT Chiapas;

• Wilner Metelus, Presidente del Comité Ciudadano de Defensa de los Naturalizados y    Afroamexicanos;

• Hugo Castro Vázquez, Coordinador de la organización Ángeles sin Fronteras en Baja      California;

• Mónica Acosta Zamora, National Political Campaign for the Freedom of Ramsey Muñíz;

• Unión General de Obreros y Campesinos de México Bandera Roja;

• Guillermo Almeyra, escritor y periodista;

• Sara Fernández, Grupo Gestor Águilas de Baja California, Tijuana;

• Cirilo Gómez, profesor Tecate;

• Asociación de Padres por una Educación de Calidad, Tijuana;

• Ubaldo Rosas Valladeres, Jornalero Agrícola San Quintín;

• Alejandra Rivera Arvizu, OPT Tijuana;

• María Rivera, OPT Tijuana;

• Joaquín Torres, OPT Tijuana;

• Christian Santana, Estudiantes en Defensa de la Educación Pública;

• Juan Carlos Vargas, CORCI México;

• Jesús Casillas Arredondo, OPT Mexicali;

• Carlos Rosales, Profesor de UABC;

• Manuel Hernández, Profesor de preparatoria, BC;

• Abril Angélica Rodríguez Martínez, activista en el movimiento feminista y en defensa del   agua, Mexicali, Baja California;

• Juan Antonio Avalos Rojas, STUNAM;

• Eduardo Félix, Estudiante San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora;

• Erick Omar Jimenez Campaña, estudiante UABC;

• Liliana Plumeda, OPT Mexicali;

Marco Morales, Activista de Mexicali Resiste;

• Teresa Saavedra Talavera, Partido Popular Socialista de México;

• Laura Benítez, Movimiento Ateo Feminista Internacional;

• Emiliano Raya Aguilar, Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria;

• Ismael Ruiz, Asistente de Investigación.

* * * * * * * * * *

NAFTA Renegotiation Is a Sham!; Cancel NAFTA Now!

By ALAN BENJAMIN

In mid-May of this year, when President Donald Trump announced that the first session of NAFTA Renegotiation would be held in Washington, DC, on August 16-20, he stated that his opposition to NAFTA during the presidential campaign was one of the keys to his election victory. There can be no doubt that Trump’s stated opposition to NAFTA — which has destroyed jobs and entire communities on a massive scale in the United States (but especially in Canada and Mexico) — earned him a hearing among working-class voters devastated by NAFTA’s effects.

On July 17, Trump and his NAFTA Renegotiation team submitted an 18-page memorandum outlining the U.S. government’s objectives in the upcoming round of negotiations. The document, published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), is titled, “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation.”

The language of the USTR memo, and the reactions it has elicited from the business media, underscore this point: Despite the populist (and empty) rhetoric in favor of jobs and labor rights, the Trump administration’s objectives are squarely in the camp of “free trade” and the directives of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

Not surprisingly, the Wall Street Trade Ready blog applauded the Trump administration’s memo in a posting on July 24, noting that Trump has fortunately abandoned his anti-NAFTA stance in favor of a position supported wholeheartedly by Wall Street and the U.S.-owned transnational corporations.

“The 18-page document of objectives,” Trade Ready stated, “match up with the priorities in the TPA legislation established in 2015. Much of the document was also consistent with the U.S.-Canada-Mexico negotiations from the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement] that Trump pulled out of in January.”

Similarly, Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, noted in a recent article that “what the corporate lobby is demanding in NAFTA renegotiation” — and what it has obtained – “is the revival of parts of the TPP.” Wallach went on to note that all labor advisors were shut out of the administration meetings in March through May that prepared this USTR memo. So much for Trump’s claim of transparency!

The Trump administration hypocrisy knows no bounds. As Wallach further noted, “Trump has awarded United Technologies 15 lucrative new government contracts even after they proceeded to cut 1,200 of their 2,000 Indiana Carrier jobs.”

In an attempt to lower expectations, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted that, “the new NAFTA will not be a ‘silver bullet’ to save jobs.”

What Does the USTR Memo Call For?

What are some of the more salient objectives put forward in the USTR memo?

– “The United States will seek to obtain more equitable, secure and reciprocal market access.”

– “The United States will eliminate all discriminatory barriers that unfairly limit access to markets for U.S. goods.”

– “The United States will establish rules that reduce or eliminate barriers to U.S. investment in all sectors in the NAFTA countries.”

– “The United States will require that all State-Owned and Controlled Enterprises (SOEs) not cause harm to another Party through the provision of subsidies.”

Hold it for a second; there is nothing new here! All U.S. administrations over the past 23 years (since NAFTA was first signed) have plundered Mexico in the name of the above-mentioned objectives. They have demanded that Mexico amend its Constitution and reverse all laws that codify attributes of national sovereignty in the name of eliminating “barriers to U.S. trade and investment.”

For example, Mexico has been forced to put an end to cooperative ownership of land in the ejidos, as enshrined in the 1917 Constitution. It has been forced to put an end to “State monopolies” — such as the State-owned telecommunications, transportation, and oil corporation (Pemex). It has been forced to destroy collective-bargaining agreements and trade unions. (All of these were deemed “barriers to trade.”) Mexico has been forced to open its market to farm products from the U.S., which has decimated Mexico’s agricultural production. Today, 45% of what is consumed in Mexico in terms of beans, corn, rice, sugar, and wheat comes from the United States.

What Trump is now seeking to do is impose even more draconian measures upon Mexico in this “new NAFTA.” And he is counting on Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgarary — the man who headed up the privatization drive of Mexico’s public services and enterprises in his former role as Mexico’s Secretary of Finance and Public Credit — to grease the wheels of this not-so-new NAFTA.

The Swindle of Labor Rights in the “New NAFTA”

But this is not all. To succeed in pushing through NAFTA Renegotiation, Trump needs to enlist support from the top leadership of the U.S. labor movement. That is why he has included an entire section on Labor Rights in the 18-page memo, to the point of insisting that such “labor provisions should be brought into the core of the Agreement rather than in a side agreement.”

Specifically, the memo “[r]equires that NAFTA countries adopt … the internationally recognized core labor standards as recognized in the ILO Declaration, including: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; effective abolition of child labor and a prohibition on the worst forms of child labor; and elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.”

This sounds good, but it is a complete swindle aimed at roping in the unwary!

Whether included in the side agreements (which everyone today concedes was a toothless sop thrown to appease the labor movement) or in the core of the new NAFTA agreement, the core labor standards contained in the new ILO Declaration of Workers’ Fundamental Rights are unenforceable and hence they amount to little more than window-dressing.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), which was established in 1919, registered the gains of more than 100 years of labor struggles in conventions guaranteeing the formation of free independent unions without prior authorization of the State (ILO Convention 87), the right to collective bargaining (ILO Convention 97), and the outright ban of child labor (ILO Convention 138), to mention but a few.

All these conventions, which became the law of the land in the ratifying countries, became an obstacle to the “globalization” offensive by the transnational corporations and the financial institutions and governments in their service.

The WTO, which has spearheaded the international drive toward “free trade” and deregulation, demanded a “reform” of the ILO to make it “more adapted to the current needs of economic globalization and competitive deregulation.”

For the WTO, those countries that ratified ILO conventions and thereby made them the law of their lands, are in a “comparative disadvantage” on the world market in relation to other countries where production costs are lower and labor laws are more “flexible.” The ban on child labor and forced labor, the legal limitations to laying off workers, the very existence of independent unions and collective-bargaining agreements — all these, according to the WTO, are intolerable restrictions on the “normal functioning of open markets.”

Beginning with the 1997 WTO Summit in Singapore, the ILO gradually came under the WTO umbrella, thereby making it totally subservient to the needs of global capital.

The seven core ILO conventions that came under attack by the WTO are as follows:

1. ILO Convention 87 on trade union rights (1948)

2. ILO Convention 98 on free collective bargaining (1949)

3. ILO Convention 29 on forced labor (1930)

4. ILO Convention 105 banning forced labor (1957)

5. ILO Convention 100 equal wages for work of equal value (1951)

6. ILO Convention 111 on discrimination on employment (1958)

7. ILO Convention 138 on the abolition of child labor (1973)

The mechanism employed to sidestep and ultimately do away with the ILO conventions was devious. Heeding the WTO directives — and the pressure from U.S. President Bill Clinton — the administrative committee of the ILO rammed through a “Declaration of Workers’ Fundamental Rights.” It’s a document that embodies the “principle” of the seven fundamental ILO conventions.

The problem, however, is that countries are allowed to sign this Declaration of Workers’ Fundamental Rights without actually ratifying the seven core ILO conventions. 

And unlike the ILO conventions, which must become the law of the land when ratified, this declaration is not binding in any way. It is a statement of intent to respect certain principles, nothing more. It has no teeth, no mechanism of enforcement. In the hands of governments that are pushing the WTO/IMF corporate agenda, this Declaration is worth little more than the paper it is printed on.

This Declaration of Workers’ Fundamental Rights is simply a public relations maneuver devised by top functionaries of the WTO to mask the drive to marginalize and ultimately get rid of the ILO conventions.  The United States, for example, which has only ratified two of these seven core ILO conventions, signed this Declaration and parades as a champion of labor rights — at the very moment it is pushing “free trade,” deregulation, union-busting, and privatization both at home and abroad.

It is therefore no surprise that Trump and his USTR negotiators are wielding this Declaration of Workers’ Fundamental Rights to get the labor movement to swallow the bitter pill of this new NAFTA.

This is why we must join forces to cancel NAFTA now!…

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