FTA not enough for Colombian development: AFL-CIO

America’s top union issued a letter that argued that Colombian development requires more than passage of a free trade agreement.

The letter was address to members of Congress and made a number of arguments against passage of the FTA with Colombia in its current form.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka argued that Colombian development could not be achieved “on the cheap” with access to new markets but that it required a “safe, stable society” with access to education, a solid infrastructure, and protection of basic labor rights.

The AFL-CIO noted that Colombia already receives significant direct investment and still requires further development.

The letter pointed out that Colombia still accounts for more than half of the world’s murders of trade unionists, and that companies that deny labor rights often do so with impunity.

The union also took issue with the lack of any specific requirement to increase resources to protect workers in the current labor action plan, and noted that since it had been separated from the FTA enforcing its requirements would be difficult.

Finally, the letter argued that while conditions have improved in Colombia, businesses had already found ways around existing labor legislation.

The AFL-CIO ended its letter with an exhortation not to vote for the FTA: “We ask you to oppose the Colombia Trade Agreement until Colombia takes sustained, meaningful, and measurable action to change the culture of violence that plagues those who work to better their lives.”

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