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1999 Political Action Conference
Demanding Answers
On Job-Killing Trade Deals


Page Three
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UE News

Page One: Delegates Urge Congress: 'Get Back to the People's Business!'

Page Two:
Lobbying on Capitol Hill: Responses range from 'Positive' to 'Pathetic'

• Page Three:
UE Delegates Demand Answers on Job-Killing Trade Deals

Page Four:
Union Opposes Social Security Privatization; Demands Stronger System

Page Five: Representatives Who Fight for the People Address UE Delegates (photos)

Page Six:
Images from the Conference (photos)


Read the issues briefings conference delegates received in Political Action ...

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UE General Secretary-Treasurer Bob Clark

Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark (at top) says unions must shift the terms of debate on Social Security.

A soybean processing plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa appears to be the only factory opened in a UE area as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In dozens of Congressional offices on Capitol Hill the week of April 18, UE Political Action Conference delegates asked the same question: "Can you give us the name and address of at least one new factory that has opened in your Congressional District directly because of NAFTA?"

Although supporters of free trade assured union members that NAFTA has created "plenty of jobs," the Emmetsburg soybean processing plant was the only specific answer any member of Congress could muster.


UE members made trade issues a priority in meetings with lawmakers. They urged opposition to renewal of fast-track authority (which allows the President to push through trade deals without amendments or virtually any debate) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which they called the "NAFTA for Africa" bill. This trade deal would encourage the spread of sweatshops through sub-Saharan Africa.

The rank-and-file lobbyists also called attention to the Global Sustainable Development Resolution, introduced by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and Ohio Democrats Sherrod Brown and Dennis Kucinich. This resolution calls for re-negotiation of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization and controls on international bankers.

Atkins, aide, Markey

District 2 Pres. Judy Atkins listens to Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass.).

Most lawmakers from UE areas voted against fast-track renewal in the last Congress and promised to vote against any similar effort in this session. There were exceptions, like the Iowa delegation — Democrat Leonard Boswell and Republicans Greg Ganske, Tom Latham, James Leach and Jim Nussle voted for fast-track, and expressed their continuing disagreement with the UE position. Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey counseled UE members to "be optimistic" about the benefits of free trade and the electronics export market.


UE arguments were strengthened with the participation of seven union members who have been to Mexico through the worker-to-worker exchange operated by UE and the Authentic Labor Front (FAT). Judy Atkins, District Two, Diane Brawn, Local 264, Donna Cramer, Local 506, Al Harhay, Local 1111, Pat Hasenclever, Local 893, Mary Larsen, Local 1111, and Sherri Nelson, Local 791, could testify from personal experience that NAFTA has been a disaster for Mexican and U.S. workers alike.

"We should be concerned with NAFTA," declared Hasenclever in a meeting with Rep. Boswell. "Who is NAFTA working for? It’s hurt Mexico, it’s hurt the U.S., with lost jobs and lower farm prices," she said.

Many members of Congress were less definite about the "NAFTA for Africa" bill. "I’m not convinced this would harm the poorest people in the world," commented Rep. Tom Barrett (D., Wis.) "We see this as a continuation of NAFTA, part of the global race to the bottom," replied Tom Dunne, Local 1172.

An aide to Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) was confused by the UE position. "Don’t you want to help these people?" she asked. In this and other meetings, UE members were clear in explaining that the Africa bill would target thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs for destruction while condemning African workers to sweatshop jobs and continued poverty. "It’s not a worker-friendly plan," declared Frank Stoltze, Local 1421 to an aide to Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.).


When asked to name a factory that opened in their districts or states as a result of NAFTA, most Democrats understood that the trade deal had eliminated, not created, jobs. An aide to Ohio Republican Paul Gillmor announced, "The numbers just went sky-high." But he couldn’t name a single factory and promised to send a list.

"No one could name a factory but they were pretty sure there had to be one out there," said Bill Austin, Local 893, in reporting on the visits made by the District 11 delegation.

Almost no one, that is. Iowa Republican Tom Latham thought of the Emmetsburg soybean processing plant.

Mike Dolan, director of Public Citizen’s Trade Watch
Mike Dolan, director of Public Citizen’s Trade Watch.

Thousands of jobs have been destroyed because of NAFTA and more will be, predicted Mike Dolan, director of Public Citizen’s Trade Watch.

Addressing the UE Political Action Conference, Dolan described labor’s success in blocking fast-track renewal as "the biggest kick in the groin of the ruling class" in recent years. He praised the work of UE locals in Erie, Pa. in securing a "no" vote from Rep. Phil English. Dolan urged union members to be ready for another battle on fast track.

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