February 24, 2014
For too long, the Industry Trade Advisory Committees established under the Trade Act of 1974 have excluded labor representation. Today’s announcement that labor unions will now explicitly be considered to be U.S. organizations eligible to apply for membership in ITACs is a welcome change and an important step forward in helping to reform U.S. trade policy so that it can work for working families. I applaud the announcement and appreciate the opportunity for unions to present the workers’ point of view on the 16 industry-specific ITACs and the various ad hoc working groups the ITACs establish.
However, the AFL-CIO will continue to press for greater openness, accountability, and democracy throughout the trade negotiation process. Our government must provide the American people the information they need in a timely manner so they have an opportunity to influence what is being negotiated in their name. Only then will trade policy stop being a tool to secure corporate rights and privileges at the expense of democracy. Today’s trade agreements affect everything from wages, jobs, and workplace rights to healthcare, consumer safety, the environment, and financial services policies. These issues are too important to be determined behind closed doors—in a manner in which even membership organizations like unions cannot legally inform their members of the classified information they learn.