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New NAFTA Battle Looms


Workers and NAFTA

Four years after Congress approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), big business and the Clinton Administration are a pressing for an expansion of NAFTA.

As a first step, President Clinton wants lawmakers to renew the "Fast Track" authority that allowed him to rush NAFTA through Congress. A vote on "fast track" may come as early as September.

UE opposes fast track and is urging members to call or write their members of Congress to express opposition to the measure.

Meanwhile, the biggest of big business are raising funds to carry on an all-out campaign to win NAFTA expansion. With billions in profits at stake, they are planning to battle for fast track on Capitol Hill and in each of the 50 states...


Calling themselves "America Leads on Trade (ALOT), the chief executive officers of Caterpillar, Boeing, Proctor & Gamble, TRW, Chrysler and General Motors have written to fellow members of the Business Roundtable to ask for contributions of $100,000 each to support White House "war room" operations and allies in Congress. (The six CEOs each paid their $100 grand.) They hope to raise $3 million.

In their letter, the ALOT moguls compare the upcoming trade battle to the big business campaign to win NAFTA and GATT in 1995 and urge the fullest possible corporate involvement in the fast track debate . ("The Roundtable's leadership on NAFTA in 1993 was absolutely critical to passage of that landmark free trade agreement," the top executives say.)

Fast track is key to winning congressional approval of NAFTA expansion, the CEOs say. Without fast track "there can be no expansion of NAFTA to include Chile or other Central and South American countries," they claim. "Without new fast track authority, America's global trade leadership will be irreparably harmed."


The problem, the big bosses say, is the "political backdrop" fast track faces on Capitol Hill. "Organized labor, human-rights groups, protectionists, isolationists and some environmental organizations are questioning the benefits of trade and investment to the United States."

To overcome these obstacles, ALOT hopes to raise a minimum of $3 million "to insure that the voice of the business community is heard." This not just another worthwhile cause, the corporate chiefs say, this is the greatest cause of all - maximized profits through "U.S. global leadership on trade."

In a political action bulletin sent to UE locals and staff, Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark agrees with the big business lobby that fast track is key to congressional approval of NAFTA expansion - and that is why it must be stopped.

Fast track allows a trade deal to be negotiated in secret, without any more than 20 hours of debate on the floor of both the Senate and the House. No amendments are permitted, only a straight "yes" or "no" vote. President Clinton used fast-track authority to ram NAFTA through both houses of Congress in less than 18 days.

"Fast track was specifically designed to make it possible for corporations to short-circuit the democratic process," says Clark. "It enables big business to concentrate its massive powers of bribery on Congress for a brief period of time to win passage of politically unpopular, job-killing schemes like NAFTA."

An estimated half million workers have lost their jobs as a result of NAFTA. UE is committed to working to prevent any further job loss as a result of NAFTA expansion. UE calls for re-negotiation of both NAFTA and GATT to include strong protections of workers' rights and the environment.

UE News - 08/97

Home -> UE News -> 1997 Archives -> Article

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