State labor leaders and other workers’ groups are heading to a rally in Cedar Rapids this evening related to the international trade talks going on in Florida. The unions tell members that NAFTA’s been bad for them, and that its next development, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, is being worked out during a world trade conference. Chas Young with the Government Affairs Department of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is in Cedar Rapids today. She says NAFTA has affected Iowa and cost 30-thousand jobs in the state since it was implemented nearly 10 years ago. World leaders are talking about a pledge made during NAFTA’s creation to expand free-trade policies to every country in North and South America, but FTAA, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, gets no praise from labor leaders. The FTAA agreement, which would go into effect in 2005, expands NAFTA to 34 countries in the western hemisphere and labor groups think it would cost more jobs in Iowa and nationwide. Young says F-T-A-A means not only no trade protections for Iowa products but also sub-minimum wage agreements that will undercut American salaries. It’s not just about trade talks, she says it’s about workers who have to support families losing good jobs that include good benefits. While protestors have been arrested in Miami where the trade talks are being held, there’s an Iowa rally for union workers in Cedar Rapids at the Teamsters Local headquarters at five P.M. today.
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