Editor’s note: Jonathan Rouse II will receive this year’s Al Sandoval Memorial Scholarship based on his winning essay, reproduced below. Rouse is the son of Local 1245 member Jonathan Rouse Sr., who is a Fitter at Truckee Meadows Water Authority. Rouse attends Robert McQueen High School in Reno and plans to attend Brigham Young University. This year’s essays addressed the topic:
Why have America’s unions strongly opposed many recent trade agreements–such as the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 and the Columbia Free Trade Agreement now under consideration–and what sorts
By Jonathan Rouse II
Blue Collar workers have always been the catalyst for the United States. Unions such as the AFL-CIO and IBEW have been known to be giving their union members rights and fair job benefits, other than non-union organizations. However, Trade Agreements such as the North America Free Trade Agreement and the Columbia Free Trade Agreement have created obstacles for American businesses to flourish jobs.
The North America Free Trade Agreement was signed by Bill Clinton with the intention of removing barriers in trade and investment between the United States and its neighboring countries Canada and Mexico. It was also created to increase the cost of living in both Canada and Mexico, which would result in the creation of Labor unions. However, corporations have taken free trade to their advantage while wages are not well regulated in Mexico, resulting in corporations moving jobs to Mexico because the corporation gains more profit than it would in the United States.
Recently, Mexico released plans to build a port on the scale of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports. Being nestled in Punta Colonet, Mexico, the Port will take jobs away from United States union longshoremen in which China will direct trade to Mexico rather than the United States due to Mexico’s relatively low tariffs. With this change thousands of United States longshoremen as well as truck drivers will be out of jobs due to Mexican truck drivers driving up to the United States to deliver products to local markets.
The Columbia Free Trade Agreement states that worker’s rights would be improved and unions could be established. However, as of 2007 over two thousand Colombian trade unionists have been murdered. These murders were linked to union activity in the country of Columbia. Primarily the government is killing union activists; unions in the United States strongly disagree with this trade agreement due to the Columbian government’s anti-union platform.
Unions now try to make agreements or revise the trade agreements in order to make the agreements more acceptable. The Employment Trade Act is a step forward for unions and governmental officials to review NAFT A and enforce labor and human rights for workers no matter what country the worker is working in. The Columbia Free Trade Agreement is also being revisited. Since the agreement was signed, congressional representatives have been fighting to go back to the agreement and contain more labor rights for workers.
As shown, the North America Free Trade Agreement and The Columbia Free Trade Agreement have been negatives yet they were designed to be positive, but with human rights being low, workers are not able to receive fair wages and establish unions.