Monday, April 17, 2006

The Clock's Ticking... Who Will Stand Up for American Workers?

Gretchen Clearwater will. That was the message Gretchen and several volunteers took last week to Clarksville's Colgate workers.

Colgate has announced that it's closing the plant, which makes most of Colgate's toothpaste (among other products), and moving most of its production to Mexico, with the rest going to Tennessee (a 'right-to-work', aka right-to-exploit-workers, state).

Colgate apparently felt that it just couldn't afford to do business here in Indiana, with workers who earn $22 an hour or so. It can afford, mind you, to pay its CEO, Reuben Mark, an average of 47 million dollars a year for the past few years. Yep, that's right, forty-seven MILLION. Per. Year.

But paying American workers a decent wage? And health care? Even a modest pension? That's way too much to ask, apparently.

These are among the results of the free trade agreements which have been crafted and implemented by Republicans and Democrats alike. Anyone remember Ross Perot, who during the debate over NAFTA famously said that we'd hear a "giant sucking sound" of jobs going to Mexico? He was denounced as a nutcase at the time. He doesn't sound so nutty now.

Is unrestricted free trade good for America? Well, it depends on how you define your terms. If by "America," you mean big multinational corporations like Colgate, then the answer is yes. If by "America," you mean multi-millionnaire CEOs like Reuben Mark, then the answer is yes.

But if you define America the way Gretchen Clearwater does, as the workers, the middle class, the vast majority of the population, then the answer is clearly no.

That's why Gretchen has pledged NEVER to support trade agreements that send our jobs overseas. And NEVER to vote for agreements that don't include worker protections in foreign countries. What we have right now is a race to the bottom-- lower wages, fewer benefits, less chance of earning a living for your family. And at the same time, we have an ever-increasing gap between average workers' wages and CEO salaries.

The Bush Administration's only response is to try to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent.

We can do better. And if Gretchen Clearwater is in Congress, we'll have one more voice for sanity, for the workers who made America great, and against the corporate lobbyists.

We made a lot of friends at the plant (the folks from the union put a yard sign in front of the Union Hall, as seen above) and in Clarksville/Jeffersonville (yard signs are sprouting up there too!). People seemed to really appreciate having a candidate for Congress talk to them, in person, about their concerns. Gretchen was also well received the next night at a meet the candidates forum at the VFW hall.

The campaign continues to pick up support and enthusiasm from all over the district. It's not too late to contribute or volunteer, get a yard sign, and tell your friends to vote on May 2nd!


Blogger Farm Hand said...

I wonder if the enthusiastic supporters of so-called "Free Trade" ever truly understand (or have fully integrated) the economic rationale behind agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and the emerging FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas)?

In our market-based economy, land, labor, and capital comprise the three factors of production from which all goods and services arise. Why is it, then, that in our trade agreements, the only factor free to move across borders is "capital"?

If our leaders truly believe in the merits of these trade agreements, then they should also be advocating for the free trade of labor and land in addition to capital. Anything less merely promotes the so-called "market inefficiencies" these trade agreements claim to be mitigating!

As seen from consequences of these trade agreements, both in District 9 and in the foreign countries that are bribed into accepting these deals, the benefits flow disproportionately to the wealthy corporate interests. Colgate shareholders should be able to import a qualified CEO from Mexico willing to work for something less than 47 million a year!

12:03 PM  

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