Chicken Little is loose again. Loose in the White House, the congress and corporate America.

Chicken Little is loose again. Loose in the White House, the congress and corporate America.

The Chicken Littles are crying that if all new NAFTA-style trade deals are required to include protections for labor in all the countries involved – well, goodness gracious, the sky will fall!

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What has them so panicky is a proposal by congressional Democrats to rein-in the labor abuses that have come with these corporate-written trade deals. Are the Democrats suggesting radical protections that would put an impossible burden on global business? Judge for yourself:

One provision would ban the use of child labor. Another bans slave labor. A third says that workers would have the right to form unions.

Aren’t these good things? Not to the global corporate powers and their political protectors in Washington. They warn darkly that such protections would boomerang, for other nations would sue in international trade courts to overturn our state laws allowing such practices as lower-wage summer jobs for teenagers.

Excuse me, but an all-out foreign assault on American teenagers working a few weeks at the shore or in the hay fields doesn’t seem terribly likely. Nonetheless, the battlecry of the powerful National Association of Manufacturers is: Defend the Teenagers! Indeed, NAM’s top lobbyist, John Engler, is the Chicken Littlest of them all, wailing that subjecting state laws “to a foreign nation’s challenge would be unacceptable.”

Gosh, maybe John is ignorant of the fact that NAFTA, CAFTA, and other existing trade deals already subject our state laws to foreign challenges on behalf of global corporations – and that the NAM backed those provisions. Or… maybe John’s just using American teenagers as a political screen to keep his corporate members from having to treat their global workers with some minimal fairness.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Yeah, that last one.

“Labor Rights Issues Stalls Trade Pact Talks,” New York Times, April 21, 2007

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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