Thursday, October 6, 2011

AFL-CIO: Help Us Stop the Free Trade Agreement!

Dear Coffee Party Cincinnati,

You don’t hear from me often. I spend most of my time on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress, making the voices of working people heard in front of lawmakers and educating them about what’s important.

But today, I have a really important favor to ask of you. It will take about three minutes: I need you to pick up the phone and call 1-800-718-1008 right now to stop three unfair trade deals.

Here’s why:
The Korea agreement is the largest offshoring deal of its kind since NAFTA. If enacted, it likely will displace 159,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. And its glaring loopholes would allow unscrupulous businesses to import illegally labeled goods from China and possibly even from sweatshops in North Korea—potentially without any tariffs at all.

In Colombia, one trade unionist is murdered almost every week and almost none of the murderers is brought to justice. In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia—more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed, despite Colombia’s heralded “Labor Action Plan.” Would we reward a country where 51 CEOs were killed last year?

And the Panama agreement has many of the problems of the other two deals, like deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety, labor and environmental laws. Panama is also a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.
I’ve done everything I can to try and get through to President Obama and leaders in Congress to stop these trade agreements behind the scenes. But it looks like many of our leaders in Washington—both Democrats and Republicans—are siding with corporate lobbyists instead of learning from the experience of working Americans.

For years, lobbyists have promised politicians that new trade agreements would lead to job creation and greater prosperity for our country. The “jobs” argument gives politicians a convenient excuse to push these agreements—which are good for the mega-rich but terrible for the vast majority of Americans. It’s sad, but not surprising, that many of our leaders in Washington are parroting these corporate talking points—and even are claiming these agreements will help solve America’s jobs crisis.

But what workers actually have experienced from new trade agreements is horrible. They have caused a devastation of our manufacturing sector, more outsourcing of service-sector jobs and a growing trade deficit that leaves us more and more in debt to the rest of the world.

Working people know the reality of these trade agreements better than corporate lobbyists—and Congress needs to listen. Please call 1-800-718-1008 right now.

Since it looks like a majority of our leaders are siding with lobbyists, I need your help to make sure Congress hears the voices of working people.

We’ve organized a national call-in day today to stop these unfair trade deals. Please pick up the phone and make your voice heard right now. Again, the number to call is: 1-800-718-1008.

Thank you for your help.

In Solidarity,

Bill Samuel
Legislative Director, AFL-CIO

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ACLU Releases Protester Advisory in Anticipation of Planned “Occupy” Demonstrations in Ohio

In anticipation of planned demonstrations around the state, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has released a protester advisory. This advisory gives basic information about the rights of protesters, the limitations of those rights, and what to do if these rights are violated.

“Peaceful protests are an important and constitutionally protected right,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “This advisory will help protesters anticipate and, if possible avoid confrontations with law enforcement.”The ACLU protester advisory also makes clear the difference between protected speech and civil disobedience, in which protesters choose to break the law, and face potential arrest, in order make a point.

“There is a reason Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from inside the Birmingham jail,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “He chose to be arrested to highlight injustice. This advisory will help prepare protesters who choose to engage in this kind of civil disobedience for what happens after they make their choice.”

Protest groups are emerging around the state, many affiliated with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York City. The demonstrations attracted national attention when over 700 protesters were arrested while marching on the Brooklyn Bridge.

For more information, visit