Sunday, August 14, 2011

Free Trade hits black workers hardest

Thanks largely to free trade agreements, urban black workers are suffering from especially high joblessness, William Lucy, former secretary-treasurer of a large AFL-CIO union, writes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Unemployment rates reach almost Great Recession heights in cities with a large population of blacks, Lucy points out: 18% in Cleveland, 25% in Detroit, 22% in Milwaukee.

“There are some politicians who would have us believe that the proposed free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama will heal the jobs crisis and restore the manufacturing jobs lost. Either those politicians have historical amnesia, or they have not been to Cleveland to see what we've seen,” he writes, adding:

“Since the North American Free Trade Act was signed in 1994, more than 682,900 jobs in America have been displaced to Mexico. The bulk were in manufacturing, the very jobs that helped to create a black middle class. The South Korean FTA is estimated to cost the United States another 159,000 jobs. During a time when so many are struggling to find jobs or straining to hold onto the jobs that they have, how could anyone think that more free trade agreements are what our communities need?

“Maybe they can't see the effects of an auto factory or textile factory shutting down. Maybe they can't fathom the devastation that happens when a company relocates an entire electronics assembly line to another country. Maybe they don't understand that for all the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, those are communities devastated, workers who can't provide for their families, an entire segment of the population struggling to maintain the economic gains they've made.“

Lucy is founding president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and former secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. His article appeared in the August 13 issue of the Plain Dealer.

No comments: