Elizabeth Warren Fires Back at Obama with New Report On Failed Trade Enforcement

May 20, 2015 by


There’s been a dismal record on enforcing labor standards.

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill on November 14, 2013 in Washington, DC

One way supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have defended the agreement is to boast that it features supposedly strong labor and environmental standards. The White House has called it the “most progressive trade agreement in history.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) this week put out a new report pointing out that even in the trade agreements we currently have, the Obama administration and previous administrations have failed to enforce these labor standards. Here are two of the highlights:


  • Failed Enforcement Of Child Labor Laws: Warren notes that Colombia, which we signed a free trade agreement with during the first Obama term, continues to produce at least eight products, such as coffee and sugarcane, with child or forced labor. The report shows that ten different countries we have free trade agreements with have been identified by the Department of Labor as continuing to utilizing child labor.

  • Violence Against Labor Unions: One of the biggest complaints fair trade advocates have about our trade agreements is that they fail to protect the rights of workers to organize. The Warren report looks at violence against labor union organizers in several countries we currently have free trade agreements with. She notes that despite the fact that the United States put together a Labor Action Plan with Colombia alongside the trade agreement, 105 unionists in that country have been murdered there over the previous four years.

Read the full report here.


Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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