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Unions Ready to Fight Obama's Free-Trade Pact With South Korea

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President Obama very much wants Congress to approve a new free-trade agreement with South Korea next year, but some powerful labor unions are already lining up against the deal, fearful it amounts to an invitation to employers to move jobs overseas.

The AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, International Association of Machinists and Communications Workers of America all said Thursday they intend to oppose the agreement, which would gradually knock down tariffs and other barriers to trade between the two countries.

AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington"We do not need to inflict further damage to our manufacturing base and the lives and livelihoods of our workers to prove the strength of our alliance (with South Korea)," the steelworkers said in a statement reported by the Washington Post.

The White House says the deal will grow the economy and support tens of thousands of jobs on the home front. And Obama has backing for the pact from some major unions, including the United Auto Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers. Free-trade advocates says it will open up lucrative new markets for American automobiles, the aerospace and electronics industries, and farmers and ranchers.

Opponents, including some congressional Democrats, think it could cost jobs because of the anticipated influx of less expensive South Korean goods. It was originally negotiated by the Bush administration, but Obama sealed the deal last week. And a number of Republicans are likely to side with the Democratic president on this one in his effort to win ratification for the pact on Capitol Hill.

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11 Comments

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rupertpupkin37

IF those who oppose free trade agreements want to keep buying poorly made, overpriced American junk, that is your prerogative. No free trade agreement can force you to buy foreign made goods. But don't try and force the rest of us to buy overpriced junk.

December 11 2010 at 8:16 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
rupertpupkin37

I am curious as to why anyone cares anymore what labor unions think. Labor unions represent such a small fraction of the American workforce that what they think doesn't matter anymore. Furthermore, the fact that they keep losing members means they are continuing their march to irrelevance.

December 11 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
harjacobhar

YOU KNOW IF AMERICANS REFUSED TO BUY FORIGN PRODUCTS AND ONLY BOUGHT AMERICAN THESE FREE TRADE ACTS WOULD REMAIN USELESS....

December 11 2010 at 3:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to harjacobhar's comment
wolfsonnydiane

funny i owned both a forien car and a american made car and the american car cost less to buy and had less problems and was cheaper to maintain

December 12 2010 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
flyingwisconsin

Anyone remember another deal called NAFTA? Gee that really worked out Great. Yes Great but not for us as it was only great for Mexico and cost us Billions,not to mention all the re-work done on products from Mexico.Why should this next Blunder be any better?The answer is it won't.

December 11 2010 at 9:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sfamilyent

This is not a "free trade" agreement. South Korea will drop their auto import tariff from 8 to 4 percent and we will maintain ours at 2.5%. South Korea will allow less than 100 thousand autos from the US, but they ship more than 400 thousand to the US. Tell me why we want to accept a lop sided agreement. This is not the only example of the predatory lop sided trade agreements that our government signs us up for. It seems to me that we should at least charge the same level of tariffs and impose the same restrictions that our trading partners do...

December 11 2010 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sfamilyent's comment
knkdnsr

The problem with all these trade agreements the other country is the one that benefits. Why did we ever start letting these countries start shipping their junk here in the first place. We already made everything here. All these other countries when we build or design something new they get their hands on it and copy it then ship it back here to sell below what we can make them for.

December 11 2010 at 6:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
FRED

When Korea is allowed to sell us 52 automobiles to every 1 we can sell there,that does not sound like free trade. Sounds like the politicans haven't got a clue to what is fair trade. It is up to us out here to buy American and avoid foreign at every chance we have.

December 11 2010 at 6:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
joe

The unions have one big problem. They simply cannot compete with the cheap overseas labor. I remember when the assembly line workers in the TV and electronics manufacturing plants were unionized. That was the beginning of the end for American TV manufacturing. If unions keep demanding exorbitant wages and benefits they will end up like America's manufacturing plants and be a thing of the past.

December 10 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to joe's comment
harjacobhar

they already are. take it from a former union organizer - unions are near death. less than 8% of workers are in unions today.

December 11 2010 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

Trade deals have started out with good intentions, we trade with them, they trade with us. In reality American corporations just pick up and leave where they can leave behind the expenses of manufacturing in the US. So. Korea had a plant in Haiti taking advantage of the Caribbean Initiative to send goods duty free to the US. The only benefit that may come out of this is that American corporations that moved to China may pull out and move to So. Korea.

December 10 2010 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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