Hoffa Statement on Resigning from the President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations
 
 
June 24, 2004
 
PR Newswire
 
 
Washington, D.C. - The following is a statement by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President, James P. Hoffa:

Today I tendered my resignation (below) from the President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN).

During the 2000 Presidential Election campaign, President Bush pledged to bring a new level of respect and bipartisan comity to the nation's capital. Along with many other leaders in the labor community, I took him at his word and endeavored to forge a mutually respectful, productive relationship with both the President and his administration. As part of that effort, in April 2003 I agreed to serve on the President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN).

However, in recent months I have become increasingly uncomfortable with that association. The administration has clearly decided to wage a full- fledged attack on workers' rights, social justice and economic common sense. While I had hoped that the Teamsters could maintain some semblance of a working relationship with this administration through my service on ACTPN, President Bush's decision to sign the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has left me with no choice but to resign.

I will no longer lend legitimacy to a sham process, in which our views and those of other important U.S. constituencies are not respected. Instead, I will dedicate my efforts to advancing an agenda at the national level that puts the interests of America's working families first. Our country desperately needs leaders who will include enforceable labor and environmental standards in all future trade deals, combat off-shoring and strengthen our Buy America laws. This will ensure that foreign investors don't get greater rights than our Constitutional standards, require all food products and trucks entering the U.S. comply with U.S. safety and inspection standards, and renegotiate CAFTA.

June 24, 2004

The Honorable George W. Bush

President

United States of America

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write you today to tender my resignation from the President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN).

For quite some time, I have been uncomfortable being associated in any way with your Administration's full-fledged attack on workers' rights, social justice, and economic common sense. While I had hoped that the Teamsters could maintain some semblance of a working relationship with your administration through my service on ACTPN, your decision to sign the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) leaves me with no choice but to resign.

Your approach to trade and economic integration only further isolates our nation from the very countries with whom we seek to trade. By seeking to impose one-size-fits-all rules designed by and for the largest corporate interests -- to the detriment of workers and farmers all over the world -- we only alienate the citizenries of our trading partners. In contrast to the race-to-the-bottom deals you have negotiated culminating with CAFTA, the Teamsters support trade rules that lift up the living conditions of people in the countries of our trading partners.

Initially, I viewed my participation in ACTPN as an opportunity to contribute, on behalf of the labor community, to the formation of United States trade policy. Since my appointment to ACTPN in April of 2003, the Teamsters Union has provided you and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) [Robert Zoellick] with input on a number of free trade agreements, including CAFTA.

However, our advice consistently has been ignored.

During my service on ACTPN, I repeatedly and consistently asserted that all trade agreements must include enforceable labor and environmental standards -- something that is crucial for CAFTA in particular. Without exception, the labor rights records of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua are egregious, and have been repeatedly criticized by the International Labor Organization and the U.S. State Department. Moreover, there is no political will in the countries to bring their labor standards into compliance with international standards, to punish violators, or even enforce their own labor laws.

I cannot stand idly by and let you or the USTR use the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a pawn on your advisory board any longer. You have continued to ignore our advice and dissenting views in the trade agreement summaries. Your administration has misinformed Congressional committees, stating that ACTPN supports trade agreements, like CAFTA, purposefully neglecting to mention that the Teamsters, a member of ACTPN, do not support the agreements. Finally, your administration has failed to make the ACTPN broadly representative of the labor, environmental, and consumer communities.

I will no longer choose to lend legitimacy to a sham process, in which our views and those of other important U.S. constituencies are not respected. Instead, I will dedicate my efforts to advancing an agenda at the national level that puts the interests of America's working families first. Our country desperately needs leaders who will include enforceable labor and environmental standards in all future trade deals, combat off-shoring, strengthen our Buy America laws, ensure that foreign investors don't get greater rights than our Constitutional standards, require all food products and trucks entering the U.S. comply with U.S. safety and inspection standards, and renegotiate CAFTA.

Sincerely,

James P. Hoffa

General President 

cc:

Ambassador Robert Zoellick
The Honorable Charles Rangel
The Honorable Sander Levin
The Honorable Max Baucus

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/06-24-2004/0002199766&EDATE=

Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters http://www.teamster.org

Excerpted from:

Teamsters Chief Quits Bush Trade Advisory Group

 

June 24, 2004

Hoffa was appointed to the President's Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations in April 2003. Since then, the Bush administration has completed free trade agreements with the Central American nations, Morocco, Australia and Bahrain.

Hoffa said the Bush administration consistently ignored his advice. He said the Central American pact would weaken protections for workers because of the administration's failure to include tough labor provisions.


http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=5509429

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