Free Trade Deals – A Really Good Thing For The Job Situation

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Free trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, which were agreed to four years ago, have finally gone through. There was a price paid in the form of government programs to get the bill passed.

The Post reported: “The South Korea deal has the potential to create as many 280,000 American jobs, according to a recent assessment by the staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and to boost exports by more than $12 billion.

Several major labor unions have warned that any gains will come at the cost of layoffs among American workers, because of heightened competition from Korean imports…”

The Post also reported “…the trade pacts with Korea, Panama and Colombia could increase U.S. exports of goods by $12 billion or more a year. American companies will also have an easier time selling services in those countries, making the deals yet more advantageous. ”

These deals with Panama, Korea and Colombia were passed under Bush, but the unions didn’t want them, and the Democrats in Congress, and the President, stalled. They have been floating around with President Obama promising to pass them (eventually), since they have great job potential for us and for those countries.

These pacts are great for small businesses, farmers, and manufacturers who can grow and hire new workers. The growth will be in the private sector, not something Big Labor supports. They fought the pacts with a vengeance. The pacts passed mostly because of the Republicans, with “no” votes coming from Democrats, the party of Big Labor.

Big Labor has never seen a free trade agreement they like. Trumka, for instance, claims it will kill U.S. jobs. Is he worried about U.S. jobs or U.S. union jobs? If the union leaders are really concerned about U.S. jobs, then why do they ignore the fact that nearly $13 billion of new sales for our U.S. goods/services come from South Korea, Colombia, and Panama? This according to Rep. Brady who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Subcommittee on Trade. Rep. Brady said,  “We are going to create a lot of jobs and find new customers that will help us get out of this economic recession, if we can open those markets.”

President Obama would not pass the bill without the passage of the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, which have the potential to be wasteful entitlement programs. They are a concession to Big Labor, but we do need to be concerned about people who might lose their jobs.

Union leaders are not welcomed in these countries, so they won’t be able to move their operation to any of these three countries.

The pacts would likely lead to some jobs being shipped overseas, but at the same time, it will create other jobs here.

The unions arguments of more jobs lost to overseas with these agreements does not hold up under the stats. The International Trade Administration states in one article that  “export-supported jobs rose from 7.6 million in 1993 to 10.3 million in 2008, an increase of 2.7 million jobs. This increase accounted for 40 percent of total job growth in the United States during this period.”

Furthermore, “The new record [level of GDP] shows that the upward growth of trade in an expanding global market holds great opportunities for U.S. businesses whose leaders are thinking strategically about the future growth of their companies.” Read here: Exports and the vital role they play in supporting U.S. jobs

The TAA and ATAA programs were the price that President Obama demanded in exchange for signing the free trade agreements.

According to the Department of Labor, the “Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) help trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States. Certified individuals may be eligible to receive one or more program benefits and services depending on what is needed to return them to employment.”

The Labor Department further states that …to obtain TAA or ATAA services and benefits, a group of workers must first file a petition with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance (OTAA) requesting certification as workers adversely affected by foreign trade. If certified, each worker in the group may then apply separately for individual services and benefits through their local One-Stop Career Center…

Benefits available are: rapid response assistance, reemployment services, job search allowances, relocation allowances, training, training waivers, income support while being trained, and a health coverage tax credit.

If this assistance is needed, I’m all for it. The thing I hate about Big Labor is I don’t think the leaders really are in it for Americans. They are in it for their own little bailiwick, but they want all of America to pay for it and support it. They want to control the entire government to support their little bailiwick.

Unions don’t even do well by workers in many cases. The non-government workers end up getting overly-high pay for 6 months, and are then laid off to collect unemployment, while other members are rotated through the  jobs. What kind of system is that? Meanwhile, I don’t believe government workers have a right to unionize because of the obvious conflict of interest with political parties, and it hasn’t served us well as a country since government pensions are killing us. What do they really mean by the “common good?”

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