Before U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) even got to the stage at the Oregon AFL-CIO convention, delegates gave him a standing ovation. Merkley is one of labor’s top allies in opposing further NAFTA-style trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which faces a ratification vote in Congress.
At the convention, he explained why he opposes it: American workers used to benefit from a “virtuous cycle” in which rising wages fueled greater consumer buying power, which added jobs and led to rising wages.
“In the mid-’70s, that fell apart,” Merkley said, “and it started with an explosion in imports from overseas.”
Since then, Merkley said, U.S. trade deficits rose after virtually every trade agreement. The agreements make it easier for U.S. companies to invest overseas, but do nothing to improve labor standards in those countries.
— Don McIntosh