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Addressing Concerns About
This paper was researched and written to fulfill the M.A. project requirement for completing the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy. It was not commissioned by any government or other organization. The views and analysis presented are those of the student alone. For more information about the Commercial Diplomacy program and the M.A. project requirement, please visit www.commercialdiplomacy.org.
ADDRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT PROTECTION FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I - Definition
PART II - Implementation
ADDRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT PROTECTION FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
For the purposes of this project, I assume the fictitious role of Special Advisor to the President of the United States. The President has asked me to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing labor issues in order to enable the AFL-CIO and House Democrats to support, or at least end their opposition to, renewed trade negotiating authority. The strategy will also have to take into account the interests of the Republican-controlled Congress.
Thus far, the Administration has failed to form a consensus on legislation for renewed trade negotiating authority, and this failure is due, in part, to organized labor's (the AFL-CIO's) and House Democrats' opposition to the proposed legislation. In their view, the legislation does not adequately address protection for workers' rights. Indeed, the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee's and Senate Finance Committee's legislative proposals addressed workers' rights issues even less than the Administration's original proposal.
will need "fast-track" negotiating authority to achieve
his trade objectives; he will need to address labor's (and House Democrats')
concerns if his to get such authority.
International trade creates much-needed jobs, stimulates the economy, and raises the standard of living for American families. More than ever before, trade and trade negotiations are affecting the everyday lives of Americans, and as a result, trade negotiations have become a subject of public debate across the country. Economic change associated with trade is creating new political resistance to competition and trade-enhancing reforms.
Labor's opposition to renewed trade negotiating authority is based on two fears. First, labor fears that, by maintaining low labor standards, some of our trading partners deny their citizens basic rights and gain an unfair advantage in our market. Second, labor fears that as trade increases, more American workers will lose their jobs to cheap overseas labor.
This situation calls for bold leadership to keep our economy open and to keep trade expanding; it also requires that we address the economic and social dislocations that inevitably result from trade. Otherwise, the public will continue to believe that trade liberalization implies a downward leveling of pay, and political support for trade initiatives will be further weakened.
To date, no agreement has been reached on how best to address the issue of protection for workers rights. Partisan divisions and lingering distrust over this politically charged issue have frayed the bipartisan coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans that has traditionally supported trade liberalization. Discussions of a possible link between labor standards and international trade are often reduced to a debate on the single issue of trade sanctions as a weapon for enforcing respect for a given level of labor standards. Such a narrow focus gives only a partial view of the problem. It would prove more fruitful to concentrate on other approaches that, although less dramatic, will multiply the options for addressing labor's concerns.
A menu of potential responses to labor standards abuses, varying in both the nature and severity of their effects, might include:
a "global social label" to guarantee that internationally-traded
goods are produced under humane conditions;
Obviously, the purpose of any intervention must be to bring about change in countries where labor standards are inadequate. The goal is not to use our trade laws to punish foreign governments. Rather it is to ensure that our trading partners enforce their domestic labor laws and, ultimately, adopt international rules that, fairly applied, will bring about real improvements in working conditions.
community cannot attempt to mandate levels of appropriate working
hours, minimum wages, benefits, or health and safety standards-particularly
levels that match those of the United States and other industrialized
countries. However, it is appropriate to expect labor standards to
improve as economies develop; as countries grow richer, they are better
able to improve living and working conditions. Free trade offers both
a means for developing countries to amass wealth and a means for workers
in developed countries to benefit from this rising wealth. Countries
with rising mass living standards offer growing markets for other
countries' exports and thus all countries have an economic stake in
broadly shared prosperity abroad. Free trade is a means, not an end.
The end is rising living standards worldwide.
TRADE NEGOTIATING AUTHORITY
The U.S. Constitution assigns the power to regulate foreign commerce to Congress, which has historically exercised that power through legislation that regulates imports of goods, services, and investment into the United States. However, beginning with the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, Congress began delegating authority to the President to proclaim changes in U.S. tariffs, within prescribed limits, based on the results of mutually beneficial trade agreements concluded with our foreign trading partners.
Under this arrangement, Congress set the overall objectives of a negotiation but offered the President and our trading partners the assurance that, if a negotiated tariff agreement was consistent with the objectives and conditions set by Congress, the agreement would be implemented in U.S. law. Under this arrangement, U.S. negotiators achieved significant reductions in tariffs abroad, as well as significant reductions in U.S. tariffs.
However, as tariff levels fell, particularly after the Kennedy Round of GATT tariff negotiations concluded in 1967, it became clear that future rounds of trade talks would focus on non-tariff measures-measures that would require changes in U.S. law. This posed a problem. Congress recognized that, as a practical matter, the President would be unable to conclude future trade agreements unless he could assure negotiating partners that Congress would not amend an agreement after it was signed. Yet Congress was not willing to give the President authority to revise U.S. domestic law by proclamation in the manner it had delegated the authority to proclaim tariff changes.
To solve the problem, Congress established what have become known as "fast-track procedures" for implementing trade agreements. Introduced in the Trade Act of 1974, the procedures preserve Congress' constitutional authority to regulate foreign commerce yet also offer the President and our trading partners the assurance that Congress will wholly accept or reject a signed trade agreement via a simple up-or-down vote within a certain time period.
Under fast-track procedures, Congress sets the President's negotiating objectives just as it did under the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934. Subsequently, the President is obliged to:
with Congress and the private sector on the nature and scope of an
accord throughout its negotiation;
Congress has preserved this basic structure both times it renewed fast-track trade negotiating authority. The authority was renewed for eight years by the trade Agreements Act of 1979 and for five years in the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. In 1993, Congress extended the authority granted by the 1988 Act for an additional six months in order to complete the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. The last grant of trade negotiating authority under these procedures expired in December 1993.
THE CASE FOR RENEWED AUTHORITY
In making the case for renewed negotiating authority, the President has emphasized the importance of trade to the future of American workers, businesses, and families, as well as to the overall health of the U.S. economy. The value of U.S. trade equaled 32 percent of GDP in 1997, up from 25 percent in 1992 and 13 percent in 1970. The Administration notes that exports support almost 12.1 million U.S. jobs, which pay an average of 13 to 16 percent more than the overall U.S. average. Since 1993, exports have accounted for more than one-third of U.S. economic growth. In order to maintain economic growth and continue to increase employment opportunities, foreign markets will need to be further opened to U.S. goods, services, investment, and technology.
has highlighted the fact that in almost every region of the world,
governments are pursuing strategic trade policies and, in some cases,
preferential trade arrangements that may prove detrimental to U.S.
interests. The United States can only redress these growing trade
setbacks by concluding similar bilateral and regional agreements and
negotiating new multilateral agreements that level the trade playing
field. To do this, as well as to continue to lead other nations in
reducing trade barriers and expanding trade around the world, the
President must obtain renewed trade negotiating authority.
TRADE POLICY AGENDA
In March 1998, the President transmitted to Congress the 1998 Trade Policy Agenda. The report describes the Administration's trade policy priorities for the year ahead and demonstrates the importance of renewed trade negotiating authority. Priorities include the following:
· Global Agenda - Within the WTO, the United States hopes to negotiate agreements in major areas such as intellectual property rights, government procurement, agriculture, and services, as well as emerging issues such as electronic commerce and biotechnology.
· FTAA Negotiations - Western Hemisphere leaders will meet in April to move the FTAA from its preparatory phase into formal negotiations. The United States is committed to a comprehensive FTAA. It is committed to making "concrete progress" toward this goal by the end of the century (as stipulated in the Miami Summit mandate) and to concluding the negotiations by 2005. The United States is also committed to negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement with Chile as a logical step toward achieving the FTAA.
· The Asia Pacific Region - The Administration places a high priority on fulfilling the mandate of APEC Leaders to open world markets in fifteen key sectors, with nine to be negotiated in 1998. APEC leaders also endorsed the ITA II, which covers additional technology-related products, non-tariff barriers to technology trade, and further work on biotechnology.
· U.S.-EU Trade Initiative - The United States and the EU are examining areas for future market opening under the Transatlantic Agenda. Although the Administration does not intend to create a U.S.-EU free trade area, officials will investigate prospects for further reducing trade barriers to goods, services, and agriculture.
· Africa - Through a combination of bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives, the United States will work to open African markets to foreign trade and investment.
The Administration's "Export Expansion and Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1997" (Exhibit 2), the House Ways and Means Committee's "Reciprocal Trade Agreement Authorities Act of 1997" (Exhibit 3), and the Finance Committee's "Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1997" (Exhibit 4), all contain similar trade negotiating objectives. The congressional proposals, however, deviated from the Administration's proposal on protection for workers' rights.
The AFL-CIO and House Democrats are opposed to legislation for renewed trade negotiating authority unless their concerns about protection for workers' rights are addressed. The AFL-CIO has stated that it is not opposed to trade agreements in general, but that it merely seeks respect for workers' rights and labor standards, including that our trading partners enforce their own domestic labor laws. AFL-CIO leaders have stated that they seek higher standards of living for all workers and want to raise living standards around the world.
The AFL-CIO argues that negotiating authority legislation must include binding promises that the United States will use trade sanctions to force developing nations to improve their treatment of workers and to protect the environment. It claims that unless the United States is willing to use sanctions, American workers will be forced into a "race to the bottom" through competition with developing countries that do not have the labor laws and environmental protections of the United States.
The President has said that the United States should seek to advance worker and environmental standards around the world and that such standards should be a part of the U.S. trade agenda. The President's original proposal for renewed negotiating authority attempted to address protection for workers' rights by including as a trade negotiating objective the promotion of internationally recognized workers' rights (as defined in Section 507 (4) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended - Exhibit 1). As negotiated with the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, however, the final proposal did not directly address protection for workers' rights.
Free-trade purists oppose any reference to labor standards in renewed trade negotiating authority. Although some Republican members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees have recognized the need to develop a mechanism for addressing protection for workers' rights, they contend that such concerns are best addressed through increased economic growth resulting from liberalized trade and through trade adjustment assistance. They do not agree that trade negotiations are an appropriate vehicle for addressing labor issues, and they oppose using trade sanctions for non-trade issues. They argue that the objectives of renewed trade negotiating authority should be limited to commerce and should be unencumbered by requirements to advance social agenda objectives.
Republicans contend that only issues directly related to trade should be covered by fast-track procedures. They claim that "directly related to trade" includes those particular aspects of practices and policies regarding labor, environment, and other matters that serve as trade barriers or distort trade. Both the House Ways and Means Committee's "Reciprocal Trade Agreement Authorities Act of 1997" and the Finance Committee's "Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1997" contain provisions to address foreign government practices that discriminate against U.S. goods, services, and investment abroad. Both proposals also target practices that lower or deviate from existing regulatory standards in order to attract investment.
The Senate Finance bill includes regulatory competition as a negotiating objective. The House Ways and Means Committee argued that if another country uses labor or environmental restrictions to limit trade improperly, the United States should then respond in trade terms.
Republicans and the U.S. business community also argue that fast-track procedures should not cover proposals that might require change U.S. labor law, and they are opposed to trade agreements that provide for international enforcement of U.S. health, safety, labor, or environmental standards. The Senate Finance Committee emphasized that making the promotion of respect for workers' rights an international economic policy objective does not authorize the use of fast-track procedures to modify U.S. law. The Committee also emphasized that including regulatory competition as a trade-negotiating objective:
not be construed to permit any provision that would restrict the autonomy
of the United States in setting health, safety, labor, environmental,
or other regulatory standards to be covered by fast-track procedures,
During fall 1997, the Senate voted (with majorities on both sides of the aisle) to proceed to debate the Finance Committee's proposal for renewed negotiating authority. However, the President decided to ask that the Ways and Means Committee's proposal not be put to a vote in the House when it became clear that he would not be able to secure the support of enough House Democrats.
State of the Union address, the President noted that he would ask
again for renewed negotiating authority. However, the President's
top economic and foreign policy aides have concluded that it would
be all but impossible to get congressional approval for both IMF funding
and trade negotiating authority.
The Administration has outlined 11 areas where action can be taken to help protect workers' rights and thereby alleviate House Democrats' concerns while also taking into account the interests of the Republican-controlled Congress. To assure Democrats that these actions are fully implemented, the President should also establish a "blue-ribbon commission" to report on progress made in each of the action areas. Composed of representatives from organized labor, the business and human rights communities, and Congress, the commission's work would help establish a common ground for restoring the bipartisan coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans that has traditionally supported trade liberalization.
The 11 areas for action are:
1. Global Social Label
The President could lead efforts to establish a new, voluntary system of "social labeling" to guarantee that all internationally traded goods are produced under humane conditions. The objectives of a social label program are similar to the objectives of the President's Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP).
A "global social label" would be granted on a voluntary basis to individual countries or firms. To use the label on all its products, a country would have to comply with a set of fundamental principles, ensure basic rights, and accept objective and independent international review of national labor laws and practices. This approach is appealing for both economic and moral reasons. It would also provide an objective international assessment of individual countries' labor rights records.
Although the ILO has proposed that a global social label be defined in an international labor instrument, the United States could administer such a program by adapting the work already accomplished by the AIP or through legislation.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) already have introduced legislation to institute a voluntary labeling system for internationally traded goods produced under humane conditions. Although this legislation concerned abusive and exploitative child labor, it could be expanded to address fundamental workers' rights.
2. Generalized System of Preferences and Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices
The President could ensure stricter enforcement of the "Factors Affecting Country Designation" under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
The GSP program rests on the premise that creating trade opportunities for developing countries is an effective, cost-efficient means of supporting broad-based economic development and sustaining the momentum behind economic reform and liberalization. Under GSP, specified products imported from more than 140 designated developing countries and territories receive duty-free or preferential duty treatment.
GSP is also designed to encourage beneficiary countries to ensure their citizens enjoy internationally recognized worker rights, among other objectives. Section 502 (c)(7) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Exhibit 5), states that in determining whether to grant GSP status to any country, the President shall take into account "whether or not such country has taken or is taking steps to afford to workers in that country (including any designated zone in that country) internationally recognized worker rights."
of the United States Trade Representative, which is responsible for
administering the program, has initiated GSP eligibility reviews of
certain countries after receiving petitions from the AFL-CIO alleging
that these countries were not assuring internationally recognized
worker rights. The President could ensure that these reviews are strict
In addition to GSP eligibility reviews, Section 2202 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 requires the Secretary of State to prepare annual Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices for countries with GSP status. Each report contains a section on worker rights, subsections a through e of which outline the country's laws and practices with respect to internationally recognized worker rights. The subsections are abridged versions of Section 6 in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which Section 505(c) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, requires the Secretary of State to prepare annually. These reports assess key internationally recognized worker rights, including the right of association; the right to organize and bargain collectively; prohibitions on forced or compulsory labor; minimum age requirements for employment of children; and acceptable work conditions.
3. WTO Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB)
The President could lead efforts to ensure that labor standards are more fully considered during Trade Policy Review Body proceedings. At the 1996 WTO Ministerial in Singapore, trade ministers renewed their "commitment to the observance of internationally recognized core labor standards." Ministers went on to state that "we believe that economic growth and development fostered by increased trade and further trade liberalization contribute to the promotion of these standards." Considering these statements, the U.S. delegation has made observations and raised questions concerning labor standards for all WTO members that underwent reviews in 1997. In some cases, U.S. interventions were critical of members' policies; in others, the United States complimented the country on its good record.
4. The Uruguay Round Agreements Act
Consistent with the provisions of Section 131 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, the President could continue to work with like-minded countries to generate support for observance of internationally recognized core labor standards and build on progress made at the 1996 WTO Ministerial. Section 131 (Exhibit 6) mandates that the President seek the establishment in the WTO of a working party to examine the relationship of internationally recognized worker rights to the articles, objectives, and related instruments of the WTO. The United States' objectives for the working party are to:
the linkage between international trade and internationally recognized
worker rights, as defined in section 502(a)(4) of the Trade Act of
1974, taking into account differences in development among countries;
The President is also required to report to Congress on the progress made in establishing the working party and on U.S. objectives with respect to the working party's work program.
5. Technical Cooperation
To clear the path to improvement of protection for workers' rights, the President could lead efforts to increase technical assistance for developing countries. The ILO currently devotes more than half its resources to technical cooperation and vocational and management training, including training on "conditions of work and life." Currently, its services vary widely and are geared to address host nations' more pressing needs.
6. The OECD
The President could continue to work on reaching agreement within the OECD that there is a mutually supportive relationship between core labor standards and economic development and trade.
At the May 1996 OECD Ministerial, the OECD Secretariat released a report on Trade, Employment, and Labor Standards. The United States actively participated in developing this report and considered it important background for the 1996 WTO Ministerial discussion of the declaration on the relationship between trade and labor standards.
The basis for the report was work jointly undertaken by two OECD bodies: the Trade Committee and the Committee on Employment, Labor, and Social Affairs. The report examined the relationship between freedom of association, economic development and trade. It endorsed the proposition that core labor standards can also contribute to the achievement of better working conditions.
The report concluded that a mutually reinforcing relationship exists between core labor standards and trade liberalization. It refuted the long-standing argument that adherence to such standards negatively affects the economic performance of developing countries. Indeed, the report found that core labor standards reinforce long-term development prospects. The report also called for the ILO to take the lead in promoting core labor standards worldwide.
In October 1997, labor ministers from the twenty-nine OECD countries met to discuss options for addressing labor market problems in their respective countries. The ministers reaffirmed their governments' commitment to observe internationally recognized labor standards. They also stated that they looked forward to the outcome of work currently underway in the ILO.
7. Declaration on Core Labor Standards
The President could lead efforts to adopt an International Declaration on Core Labor Standards to strengthen the ILO Constitution principles. The Declaration could recognize the consensus that the international community has reached regarding the special significance of several fundamental rights. It could also include a follow-up mechanism, through which all the members of the ILO-and more generally the national and international public-would gain an overall and objective view of efforts made by each country to turn the economic benefits from trade liberalization to good account in terms of social progress.
During 1997, the United States attempted to forge an international consensus for adoption of just such a declaration and follow-up mechanism. In November 1997, the ILO's Governing Body agreed to put the issue on the agenda for the June 1998 International Labor Conference.
The goal of the Declaration would be to reaffirm the meaning and scope of the commitments to which all ILO member states have subscribed when they voluntarily accepted the ILO Constitution. It would recognize that acceptance of the basic values set out in the Constitution and the Declaration of Philadelphia implies a commitment by members to strive toward achieving them.
The Declaration should explain that its aim is not, and cannot be, to increase the legal obligations of the members. Rather, the aim is to acknowledge members' commitment, by virtue of their adherence to the ILO Constitution, to work toward eliminating situations incompatible with the fundamental rights mentioned in the Declaration. The ILO's concomitant obligation would be to design the most suitable and effective promotional procedures for assisting members in attaining this objective, even where they have not yet ratified the Conventions concerned.
8. Monitoring Mechanisms
The President also could lead efforts to develop strengthened mechanisms to monitor universal compliance with the International Declaration on Core Labor Standards. Although each country is free to fix the level and substance of its social protection based on its level of development and its values and preferences, some fundamental workers' rights should be unconditionally recognized, no matter a country's situation.
The international community has reached consensus regarding the special significance of several fundamental rights. The next step is to devise a way for the international community to review the implementation of these principles.
Since a commitment to social progress is inherent in a country's membership in the ILO, it should be feasible to establish a mechanism for examining and comparing the efforts made by various members to meet this commitment and to share the benefits and burdens of liberalization. Although the function of this mechanism would not be punitive, it could help shed light on any lapses in effort. It might also be a useful means of identifying solutions that enable members to more effectively pursue the twin objectives of economic liberalization and social progress.
The ILO already has a monitoring mechanism for reviewing a country's compliance with Conventions it has ratified. The big issue is how the international community can supervise countries that have not ratified the Conventions.
One approach would be to raise the question of whether, even in the absence of ratification of the relevant Conventions, all member countries, by virtue of their acceptance of the Constitution, are not bound to a minimum of obligations with respect to fundamental rights. ILO members' adherence to minimum obligations regarding freedom of association is already monitored by virtue of a special procedure under which governments or workers' and employers' organizations may submit complaints concerning a country's violations of freedom of association-irrespective of whether or not that country has ratified the Conventions on freedom of association. This concept could be extended to the other core ILO Conventions on workers' rights.
The Workers' group of the ILO's Governing Body has agreed to suspend its demand for discussions on mandatory trade sanctions linked to a social clause, if, among other things, the Governing Body examines the possibility of introducing special procedures (similar to those for freedom of association) for forced labor and discrimination. The Governing Body has already started its work on such procedures, but the Governments and Employers groups have not yet endorsed the idea.
9. Tripartite Advisory Panel on International Labor Standards (TAPILS)
As a leader among nations, the President could set an example by working toward U.S. ratification of all the core ILO Conventions on workers' rights. Although U.S. laws and regulations equal or exceed the requirements of these Conventions, the United States has only ratified one of them, Convention 105 on abolition of forced labor. The U.S. Tripartite Advisory Panel on International Labor Standards (TAPILS) has reviewed Convention 111 on discrimination in employment and occupation, and it should be sent to the Senate soon. However, the President could pursue a campaign to ratify all of the seven core ILO Conventions on workers' rights (Exhibit 7) that it has not yet ratified.
10. Trade Adjustment Assistance
The President could lead efforts to pass legislation to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, similar to legislation originally proposed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth (R-DE) in the "NAFTA Worker Adjustment Assistance Act." The legislation proposed by Senator Roth would:
provisions under the TAA program concerning reemployment assistance
to include labor market information, job development, and job search
and placement services;
The TAA program provides worker assistance through Title II of the 1974 Trade Act. Assistance includes trade adjustment allowances, training, job search and relocation allowances, and reemployment services for workers adversely affected by increased imports. For workers to be certified as eligible to apply for TAA, the Secretary of Labor must determine that:
in a firm have become or are threatened to become totally or partially
The President could lead efforts to increase funding for worker training and increase the chances that workers will be certified as eligible to apply for TAA.
11. The North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC)
The President could lead efforts to strengthen the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), which the United States, Mexico, and Canada negotiated to supplement the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although these efforts would only apply to protection for workers' rights among these three countries, such efforts would address an issue about which the AFL-CIO and House Democrats have expressed the greatest concern.
The main objective of the NAALC is to improve working conditions and living standards in these three countries as NAFTA promotes more free trade and closer economic ties among them. The NAALC's preferred approach for reaching this objective is to increase cooperative efforts, including information exchange, technical assistance, and consultations.
The NAALC provides oversight mechanisms to ensure that all three countries enforce their domestic labor laws. Rather than focusing on punishment through trade sanctions, the mechanisms promote better public understanding of labor laws and enhance the transparency of enforcement.
The NAALC obligates each signatory to:
compliance with and effectively enforce its labor laws through appropriate
LEADERSHIP. This one word describes how the Administration can overcome public and congressional concerns about protection for workers' rights while continuing to lead other nations in reducing trade barriers and expanding world trade.
We must use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to its utmost capacity to address public concerns and ensure that the beneficial effects of trade liberalization are not lost. The President, as well as every other member of the Administration, must lead efforts to address the economic and social adjustments that accompany trade liberalization.
We must recognize the need to address concerns about protection for workers' rights in order to move forward on the President's Trade Policy Agenda. Although we have not yet been able to agree on how this issue can be best addressed, we need to find a process that will ensure further progress over time.
A comprehensive strategy for addressing concerns about protection for workers' rights also requires strong congressional support on both sides of the aisle; we want to ensure that our efforts are not perceived as a partisan effort.
Our strategy includes a list of "areas for action" to address these concerns in a way that accounts for the interests of the Republican-controlled Congress and the U.S. business community. These areas for action will serve as confidence building measures and can help establish a common ground that can restore the bipartisan coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans that has traditionally supported trade liberalization.
In order to secure the support of House Democrats for a renewal of fast track negotiating authority, I have developed a comprehensive strategy to address the concerns of the AFL-CIO and House Democrats about protection for workers' rights, including a legislative strategy and a media strategy.
The legislative strategy includes:
letters from the President to the House and Senate leadership;
The Administration needs to remain aware that the areas for action could raise concerns among conservatives. Those areas most likely to raise concern are the ILO-related actions: adopting a Declaration on Core Labor Standards, developing strengthened ILO supervisory mechanisms, or pursuing a campaign for ratification of the seven core ILO Conventions on workers' rights.
The media strategy provides a plan for using the media to inform the public about the Administration's actions to protect workers' rights. Media activities might include:
· A press
conference on April 17, 1998;
A sample media advisory, press statement, and sample Q&A for the press conference are all found in the exhibits section of this paper.
ADDRESSING CONCERNS ABOUT PROTECTION FOR WORKERS' RIGHTS
· The President should send a letter to the House and Senate leadership describing the Administration's strategy for addressing concerns about protection for workers' rights.
· Appropriate officials should testify before the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance to urge the committees to support our strategy and help ensure that the United States can continue to lead other nations in reducing trade barriers and expanding trade around the world.
· Lobbying efforts should focus on the Democrats but take into account the interests of the Republican opposition.
· Special efforts should be made to enlist the support of members with extensive experience with labor issues, specifically the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Daniel Moynihan, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the ILO.
· Special efforts also should be made to assuage concerns that conservatives are likely to have over those areas for action that involved the ILO: adopting a Declaration on Core Labor Standards; developing strengthened ILO supervisory mechanisms; and pursuing a campaign for ratification of all seven core ILO Conventions on workers' rights.
Lobbying efforts should focus on the following key members of congress:
Voting records for the Reciprocal Trade Agreement Authorities Act of 1997
House. The Ways and Means Committee -24 yeas; 14 nays. 12 Democrats and 2 Republicans opposed the bill (in italics).
Addressing Concerns About Protection for Workers’ Rights
In order to move forward on the President’s Trade Policy Agenda, we must recognize the need to address concerns about protection for workers’ rights. Labor’s concerns are not the only reason the Administration has been unable to develop a consensus on legislation for renewed trade negotiating authority. Nonetheless, the President will be unable to obtain such authority without addressing these concerns.
We must ensure that our efforts are not perceived as a partisan effort. A comprehensive strategy for addressing concerns about protection for workers’ rights requires strong congressional support on both sides of the aisle. In order to restore the bipartisan coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans that has traditionally supported trade liberalization, we must take into account the interests of the Republican-controlled Congress and the U.S. business community.
We must isolate extremists on both sides of the issue who will try to make this an election issue. In order to ensure that House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt does not make this a partisan or electoral issue, I have drafted a letter inviting him to work with the President in developing bipartisan support for our strategy. I have also invited Mr. Gephardt to serve on the "blue-ribbon commission" that will report on the status of implementation for each of the areas for action. Draft text follows on the next page.
April 17, 1998
The Honorable Richard Gephardt
United States House of Representatives
Dear Representative Gephardt:
As we have discussed many times, I am concerned about my Administration’s lack of trade negotiating authority, which I believe is vital not only for assuring the future economic prosperity of American workers, businesses, and families but also to maintaining the leadership position of the United States in the global economy.
Everyone involved in the debate over renewed negotiating authority has recognized the need to address protection for workers’ rights, among other issues. Workers’ rights are, without doubt, of utmost importance to me. However, to make any headway on this issue and other international economic issues, it is critically important that we restore the bipartisan support for trade liberalization that dates back more than six decades. I hope you will work with me in forging a bipartisan consensus that will strengthen the leadership position of the United States in the global economy.
My staff has developed a comprehensive strategy to address concerns about protection for workers’ rights that includes a list of "areas for action." Additionally, I plan to establish a "blue-ribbon commission," composed of representatives from organized labor, the business and human rights communities, and Congress, to report on the status of implementation of each of these areas for action. I invite you to serve on this commission.
I believe our strategy for addressing labor’s concerns can re-establish a common ground on important trade issues. I look forward to working with you to develop support for this strategy.
President William J. Clinton
Addressing Concerns About Protection for Workers’ Rights