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| 1/11/2011 12:00:00 AM

What the Colombia trade pact would do to working families

January 11--In 2008, I met in Colombia with families whose fathers and sisters were murdered for their work as trade unionists struggling to give workers a voice for good jobs and a better life.

The Dec. 31 column by Edward Schumacher-Matos ["Colombia: Where politics trumps reality"] dismissed the reality I witnessed - the wrenching and relentless attack on worker and human rights in Colombia.

Equally troubling during my visit was that the Colombian government never addressed the fact that just 18 percent of economically active adults in Colombia are classified as "workers." Some 15 million workers have no rights, even though they are employed in telecommunications, journalism and other fields. This is a troubling global trend that is no model for Colombia or the United States.

The proposed free-trade agreement will not benefit workers in either country. It will create no new jobs in the United States, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. Many rural workers in Colombia will lose household income and employment as well. Multinational corporations may realize gains from increased trade, but with no rights for workers in Colombia and sinking rights for workers in the United States, those gains won't be shared by working families.
 
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