WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the Obama Administration signaled its intent to send the U.S.-Columbia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to Congress for ratification, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:
"SEIU cannot support the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement negotiated by President George W. Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in 2007.
"This agreement is another example of failed trade policies that have resulted in the loss of millions of U.S. jobs. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that this agreement will result in the loss of 55,000 jobs in the U.S. - the last thing our economy needs.
"In addition, our brothers and sisters in the Colombian labor movement, in the Afro-Colombian community and human rights advocates face a climate rife with crime and violence. In Colombia, more trade unionists are murdered than anywhere else in the world and the perpetrators are very rarely brought to justice. Since 2007, nearly 200 trade unionists have been murdered, including two in the past week.
"While we commend the Administration's efforts to address some of our concerns by negotiating a separate action plan on labor rights, this agreement is not sufficient to ensure that these atrocities will cease and that the Colombian government will protect workers who wish to form a union.
"On these grounds, SEIU flatly opposes the U.S.-Columbia Free Trade Agreement."