Trade News — January 2006

 

Public Citizen Helps NAFTA Victims Win Lawsuit

Dear Fair Trade Activist,

Imagine you are a Spanish-speaking Texan and you have lost your job to NAFTA. Your income is gone. Your life is in chaos and all the help you are offered is job retraining through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program-and that is only available in English!

Many trade activists rightly criticize the concept of TAA as a bandaid that serves to simply cover over terrible trade policy. "Retrain for what job" is a common refrain.

But, the bottom line is that if this program exists and can provide help for some workers seeking new jobs after trade layoffs, then it should be equally accessible to all workers.

Enter the Association of Border Workers. Three years ago, they brought a lawsuit against the Department of Labor with the support of lawyers from Public Citizen's Litigation Group and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

In the lawsuit, the Texas-based border workers group contended that Spanish-speaking workers who lost their jobs in the wake of NAFTA were not provided the vocational training promised by Congress in the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

Thanks in part to hard work by Public Citizen's Litigation Group lawyers, a federal judge has just ordered the DOL and the Texas Workforce Commission to spend $6.5 million on job training for El Paso workers who received deficient training. This money will enable hundreds of Spanish-speaking workers to access real job training, albeit years after they should have had it.

In addition, the settlement requires policy changes nationwide. "The settlement is a significant victory because it ends all of the agency practices that the workers claimed were illegal," said Public Citizen attorney Michael Kirkpatrick. "Now all trade-dislocated workers will be given an opportunity to train for replacement jobs as Congress intended. The government is finally responding to the problem."

Read the entire press release here.

While we celebrate this legal victory, we need to intensify our efforts to change the actual trade policy, so workers are not losing their jobs to bad trade deals in the first place. This is why the work you do as a fair trade activist is so important. So keep up the good work!

Another way to can help working people is to support our work at Public Citizen by becoming a member a today.

Sincerely,

The Global Trade Watch Team

Activist Spotlight

Pat Carleton, a Steelworker from a small town in Maine, helped convince two Republican Senators to vote against CAFTA. Read Pat's story and tell him to keep up the good work!

 

More Headlines from
Global Trade Watch

  • CAFTA Misses Its January 2006 Start Date: News reports indicate that CAFTA countries are reluctant to implement the deal, so the Bush administration has decided to delay the start date until it can push through anti-public interest changes to each country's domestic laws. Read our release and remind your rep that you haven't forgotten their CAFTA vote.
  • U.S. and Peru Finish Bad Agreement: In December, the Andean country of Peru broke ranks with its neighbors Colombia and Ecuador and finished negotiations on a U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. Experts expect that this model will push small farmers towards growing coca or joining armed groups. Read more and act while there is still time!
  • Protesters Shut Down U.S.-Thai FTA Negotiations: Last week thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS in Thailand besieged the hotel where negotiators were discussing the proposed U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement. Read more and act now.
  • Narnia Storms out of the WTO: According to top business websites-until they pulled the wool from over their eyes-the country of Narnia walked out of WTO talks in Hong Kong, fed up with being bullied by the US and Europe. What a hoot! Read more here.

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