Letters to the Editor

Thursday letters: Trade deals bad for U.S. workers

In 1990, most of our clothing was made in the United States, usually by union workers making a fair wage under decent working conditions. This wasn’t an accident. It came about through decades of struggle. The result? Everyone prospered: workers, managers and shareholders.

Starting in 1994, NAFTA and other trade deals wiped out most taxes on foreign-made clothing, while doing nothing to protect workers or the environment abroad.

Overnight, American workers had to compete with countries that tolerated child labor, 16-hour workdays and 40-cent-an-hour wages.

As a result, 750,000 U.S. jobs evaporated in favor of sweatshops and a race to the global bottom.

Among the very worst offenders is Nike, whose record of abusive labor practices spans two decades. The only thing that has changed is a substantial investment in a public-relations snow job.

So why did President Obama appear at a Nike event on May 8?

To thank the company for promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will allow corporate tribunals to judge our environmental and safety regulations and put an end to “buy America” laws. Which Nike thinks is just fine.

It’s not too late to stop this. Contact your senators and representatives in Congress as well as the president.

Carl Zwerling