AFL-CIO speaker pushes for investing in America
By Karen McLean
SPEEA Publications Editor
SEATTLE – To see how trade agreements affect you personally, think about the for- eign-made products or services in your life.
That’s how AFL-CIO trade specialist Celeste
Drake brought home the impact of trade agreements at a fundraiser for the Washington Fair Trade
Coalition (WFTC) Education Fund. SPEEA-IFPTE Local 2001 was one of the sponsors.
Drake asked the nearly 100 participants to
stand in response to questions such as – has
your job been taken away by trade agreements?
Have your rights at work and benefits been
affected? Have the products or services you use
been affected. By the end, everyone in the room
“Every person is affected by trade every day,”
Drake said. “We have to change trade policy.”
Current trade agreements focus on corporate
profits without much-needed language to create living wage jobs, for example.
Many of our policies, including trade, have
reduced bargaining power for workers, which
reduces income and shrinks the middle class, she
said. “The reason people aren’t spending money
is they don’t have it.”
In the recent economic recovery, 100% of wage
gains have gone to top earners. In contrast,
from 1945 to 1975, the wages of the poorest
20% grew at the highest rate of any other 20%
- because of unions, social policy and social compacts, she said.
• 700,000 jobs have been
eliminated as a result
of the North American
Free Trade Agreement
• 2. 7 million jobs have
been eliminated since
China joined the World
• 65,000 U.S. factories
closed since 2000.
“If we want the economy to
grow, we need good jobs and
good wages and we know how
to do it,” she said, noting what
companies do when they want to
grow – they invest.
“As a country, we need to invest in our infrastructure,” she said, with more training in growth
areas and more education for children of all communities for example.
Investments in infrastructure, according to a
recent study, could increase the U.S. Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) by almost 10% in
five years – best-case scenario. The proposed
trade agreement with Europe (Trans-Atlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership) would only
increase GDP by 0.35% in 10 years – best-case
“Why are we talking trade to get out of the (eco-
nomic) doldrums?” she asked, urging everyone
to take action by sharing their story and signing
a petition at www.nofasttrack.com.
“Don’t tell us these (trade) rules are all or noth-
ing,” she said. “Tell your elected leaders to stand
up for us.”
Companies like Boeing and Starbucks do well
when they have prosperous customers, she said.
“All companies do well, when workers do well.”
Sign a petition and share how trade agreements
Stan Sorscher, SPEEA labor rep, is shown here with Celeste Drake,
trade and globalization policy specialist with the AFL-CIO. Drake
spoke at the Washington Fair Trade Coalition Education Fund breakfast Nov. 19.
Join a Washington state labor committee
Have you wondered what’s happening with labor at the state level related to issues such as economic development or diversity? Consider applying for a
Washington State Labor Council (WSLC)
committee. The committees typically meet on
a quarterly basis.
Deadline to apply: Friday, Dec. 12.
• Diversity – promote union solidarity and
a united labor movement for all, while
respecting our individual unique differ-
ences, including ethnicity, age, physical
abilities, and religious/political beliefs.
• Economic Development, Job Retention
and Transportation – explore, in cooperation with state agencies and other
organizations, how to maintain a viable
infrastructure that promotes a strong
economy based on family wage jobs.
• Education, Training and Apprenticeship – focus on public and vocational
education and statewide apprenticeship
• Union Goods and Services – work to
increase the use of union products and
services among our affiliates and the
• Women’s Committee – address issues of
special concern to working women.
You are eligible to apply if you fit the following
three criteria: 1) member of SPEEA for at least
a year, 2) have a working knowledge of SPEEA
and 3) live in Washington state.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact information, the name of the position you
are seeking, and a brief statement of why you are
interested by Dec. 12.
SPEEA’s Executive Board interviews candidates and sends nominations to the Northwest
Council officers for final approval. Terms are for