FDL has learned that the UAW, which was bailed out by American taxpayers two short years ago, will endorse the trade pact and act as the liberal “postage stamp” for the deal. UAW President Bob King decided to endorse it despite strong opposition from his staff.
Earlier today, the White House invited interested parties to a briefing where they announced that they had reached a deal with Korea on a NAFTA-style Korea Free Trade Agreement. They embargoed the story until 7pm, however, so that they could go out in the dark of night.
According to sources close to the discussions, King was on a plane from Europe all day and when he landed, the first one who got him was Obama. King told UAW staff that he supports the deal because he trusts the President, and is confident that it will be a good deal for auto workers because Ford has endorsed it.
Ford, however, manufactures in China — and Thailand, and the Phillippines – and so what is good for Ford is not automatically good for the UAW. But by choosing to endorse this NAFTA-style free trade agreement, which includes many of the provisions that Obama promised to oppose on the campaign trail, King once again demonstrates that the UAW has become a Chinese-style union: much closer to the interests of management and the government than those of its line workers.
Tonight Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has been on the phone trying to whip support for the bill. Heavy pressure is being brought to bear on United Steelworker President Leo Gerard, in an attempt to keep the AFL-CIO on the sidelines. Getting a rather cheap “give” from the Koreans to the auto industry to buy off the UAW was actually quite clever — because the Steelworkers are also being told that with all the cars that will be sold to Korea, there will be US steel used to make them.
Of course, that’s a crock. Korea would still face a lower tariff — 2% — in the US than the US will face in Korea — 4%.
The deal will devastate the building trade unions, also part of the AFL-CIO, who have been the hardest hit by NAFTA-style trade agreements. Much of their work has been building factories in the midwest, and as those factories get shipped overseas, their jobs have disappeared. In splitting the member unions, the administration hopes to sideline the powerful resources of the AFL-CIO which would otherwise organize to protect the building trades.
It’s quite a brilliant plan, which makes me suspect it didn’t originate at the White House. Unsurprisingly, the Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the deal, and are already organizing online to pass it.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has also been on the phone, pressuring labor Presidents into supporting the trade deal. As someone who raised money for her and supported her when she was in congress, she can officially kiss my ass in Macy’s window.
The White House had recently told the building trade unions, that they had no intention of dealing with Korea Free Trade for another year. They used the same tactic with the Social Security groups earlier this year — telling them they would not take it up this year, knowing all the while they would spring the deficit commission on them imminently.
In June of this year, Obama said he wanted to submit the George W. Bush negotiated Korea Free Trade Agreement to a vote in Congress. That bill contains many provisions which are in violation of the pledges Obama made on the campaign trail, and there has been no signal from the White House or anyone else involved that any fixes have been made other than sweetheart deal for autos and beef.
Earlier this month, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips launched a broadside attack against NAFTA-style free trade agreements. It will be an interesting first test for the freshmen Republican members of Congress — will they stick with the Tea Party activists who carried them into office, and who largely oppose such deals — or will they be captivated by Republican leaders like John Boehner, who (like Freedomworks head Dick Armey) strongly supported NAFTA?
It remains to be seen whether USW Leo Gerard will join with the UAW and help the White House undermine the building trade unions and ship more American jobs overseas. I hope not. The UAW are a bunch of selfish pigs and I have no problem joining hands in a transpartisan alliance against them, but I don’t want to wind up fighting Leo Gerard and the Steelworkers on this.
But we will fight them. Because this is a terrible, terrible deal for America, at a time when unemployment is soaring and the White House has zero plans for creating jobs — unless you’re in the international bank looting business. Everyone involved should be deeply, deeply ashamed of their participation in this, and we will do everything in our power to organize against its passage.
Update: White House blogger Jesse Lee is circulating a UAW statement in support of the deal:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Lee, Jesse C.
Date: Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 10:35 PM
Subject: FW: UAW Statement on the Proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement
“…This agreement is an important step toward a global rule-based trade system, an important step in giving labor a real voice in trade negotiations. We look forward to working with the Obama Administration on the issue of global rights for workers — especially the right to organize and bargain collectively.”