Today's Fair Shots - August 22, 2017
1-Will NAFTA II Eclipse the First NAFTA?
2-Eclipse Secrecy: Sign Petition Calling for Transparent NAFTA
3-Overtime Pay for Secret Service Agents Is Eclipsed
4-On Eclipse Day, IAM Launches Strike Against Wyman-Gordon in Houston
1) Now that the Legislature is out of town, it's NAFTA catch-up time. Return with us to the not-so-glorious days of 1993, courtesy of President Trump.
Bob Cash of the Texas Fair Trade Coalition put a welcome stink on NAFTA cheer-leading taking place in Texas by pointing up in a Houston Chronicle story that opposition to the treaty has an important place within both major political parties in Texas. In fact, both state party platforms opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2016. The Democratic platform called TPP a "NAFTA-style agreement," while the GOP platform called for "immediate withdrawal" from NAFTA and other trade deals.
We have been saying for years that trade is not a partisan issue. NAFTA may appear to be a success in some parts of Texas, but tell that to displaced workers in both Texas and Mexico. The economic impact of the treaty continues to be debated, or as the Chronicle headline declares "In Texas, shine of NAFTA dulls":
[A]mong working-class Texans, there is a sense free trade isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Since NAFTA came into effect, manufacturing jobs in Texas have declined by 9 percent - even as employment in other sectors of the economy have thrived, according to the Department of Labor. How much of that decline is the result of increased efficiency and automation on production lines, versus jobs moving overseas, is a matter of much debate.
Regardless, laid off workers were left to find work in warehousing, retail and other services, occupations that do not offer the same pay and benefits as factory work, said Bob Cash, director of Texas Fair Trade Coalition, which represents a coalition of activist groups and labor unions like the AFL-CIO.
"If you look at what was promised by NAFTA, it was supposed to create prosperity on both sides of the border," he said. "If that were the case, the counties in Texas that line the border should still not be the poorest counties in the United States."
That sort of criticism - which haunts free trade deals in this country - has long found a receptive audience of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. But it was never enough to present a serious challenge, as Republicans and centrist Democrats supported free trade as an unimpeachable stalwart of American economic policy.
But now there's some question about a potential schism developing within the Republican Party, reflected in a split on the TPP between so-called establishment politicians like Cornyn and Kevin Brady, the Woodlands Republican who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and conservatives like Cruz and Rep. Louis Gohmert, of Tyler. Cash recounted seeing a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, in which a retired steel worker stood up to complain about free trade and watching people in the audience nodding their heads in agreement.
"If you're thinking about who's opposed to free trade deals, it's union members and Tea Party members," Cash said.
Read more: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/In-Texas-shine-of-NAFTA-dulls-11821825.php
2) Do something! Celeste Drake of the AFL-CIO passes along an opportunity to ask your member of Congress to join the call for a North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation process that is transparent.
The next version of NAFTA could be better, worse or indifferent for working people. The same forces that brought us the NAFTA regime and a Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal that would have signed away a big chunk of national sovereignty are singing NAFTA's praises and demanding more of an agenda written by multi-national corporations:
There's a lot of talk among politicians and the media right now about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA for short. The importance of trade deals to good jobs and fair wages was a major part of the 2016 election campaign.
The original NAFTA agreement-signed 25 years ago-wasn't made with working people in mind. It shuttered workplaces across the United States while failing to hold employers accountable for violating worker rights in Mexico. Working families across the continent are still feeling the effects of that awful deal. That's why Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, and long-time fair trade champion, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), are circulating a letter to their colleagues in the House asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to ensure the negotiation process remains open and transparent.
Click here to send a letter to your representative asking them to sign on to Reps. Pascrell and Dingell's letter for a transparent, open NAFTA renegotiation process: http://bit.ly/2vi8p5q
3) Besides having duties that are extended well beyond other modern presidencies, Secret Service agents are apparently going to have to work overtime hours for free under current law, USA Today reports.
No question, U.S. presidents need full security. But this particular President made a big deal about President Obama's time off, which occurred, according to the Independent (http://ind.pn/2xmc4AT) at about one-third the rate of Trump's off-campus activities in the first seven months of his presidency.
Secret Service agents are paid well by most standards, but they put their lives on the line and are working people, too. USA Today reporter Kevin Johnson states Congress may have to act if this is to be fixed:
The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission - in large part due to the sheer size of President Trump's family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast.
Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles, in an interview with USA TODAY, said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year.
The agency has faced a crushing workload since the height of the contentious election season, and it has not relented in the first seven months of the administration. Agents must protect Trump - who has traveled almost every weekend to his properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia - and his adult children whose business trips and vacations have taken them across the country and overseas.
"The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,'' Alles said. "I can't change that. I have no flexibility.''...
The agents who have reached their compensation limits this year represent about a third of the Secret Service workforce, which was pressed last year to secure both national political conventions in the midst of a rollicking campaign cycle. The campaign featured regular clashes involving protesters at Trump rallies across the country, prompting the Secret Service at one point to erect bike racks as buffers around stages to thwart potential rushes from people in the crowd.
Officials had hoped that the agency's workload would normalize after the inauguration, but the president's frequent weekend trips, his family's business travel and the higher number of protectees has made that impossible.
Read more: https://usat.ly/2v0j0H5
4) DeLane Adams of the International Association of Machinists sends word of a strike by members of the union at Wyman-Gordon in Houston.
As always, the Texas AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with these workers and looks forward to helping the union achieve a fair contract in any way we can:
After weeks of negotiations, 271 Machinist members employed by Wyman-Gordon in Houston, TX began a strike calling for a fair and equitable contract from the company. The strike commenced at 12:00 a.m. on August 21, 2017.
"We stand in full support of our Machinist Brothers and Sisters as they have made the decision to go out on strike at Wyman-Gordon in Houston, TX. Although this resolution is never made lightly, it is the strongest show of Solidarity workers can make when the company presents a contract rife with takeaways," said Southern General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. "Cuts in long and short-term disability options, a wage system for new hires that prevents future earnings, unsafe working conditions and stagnating wages - all of this is unacceptable to a workforce who has spent an average of 15 to 20 years at this company. It is without remorse that these workers have decided to use their combined voice to take a stand. They have the full backing of the IAMAW, as well as from hard working Americans across the country who share in the fight for fair contracts and workers' rights."
Wyman-Gordon is a manufacturer of precision, close-die, high-integrity forgings for the Aerospace Industry. Machinists Members at this facility work highly-skilled jobs ranging from Laborers to Mechanics and many have spent decades ensuring the company's success. They fight for a contract that mirrors the respect they have shown Wyman-Gordon in the form of hard work and loyalty.