…Working Together for
Global Economic Justice
Trade and the DNC Convention Platform
2. Sweatfree Ohio Campaign
3. Trade and the Environment
4. The U.S. and China: A Race to the Bottom
5. Bring Battle in Seattle Movie to Ohio!
6. TRADE Act: A Positive Path to Sustainable
7. Next Meetings
Trade and the DNC Platform
This Presidential election cycle is making history on many fronts.
One is the extent to which the DNC reached out to people in
communities across the country to give them the opportunity to voice
their feedback for platform issues. This community feedback was
funneled up to state-level forums, and all the state forums
channeled their collective feedback to the national planning
platform session in Pittsburgh last week. The inclusion of trade in
the DNC Platform to be presented in Denver this week is also one of
these historic events.
John Nichols, writing in the Capital Times, states: "There is no
truer statement in the platform Democrats will approve next week in
Denver than this one: 'Over the last few decades, fundamental
changes in the way we work and live have trapped too many American
families between an economy that's gone global and a government
that's gone AWOL.' "
Nichols goes on to give credit to our own Andy Gussert, leader of
the Citizens Trade Campaign organization, of which Ohio Conference
on Fair Trade (OCFT) is an affiliate organization. Gussert was
instrumental in leading OCFT in the accomplishment of eliciting more
environmentally and economically just commitments from Hillary
Clinton and Barack Obama in the form of responses to detailed
trade/globalization questionnaires before the Ohio primary election.
Read Nichols' complete article
We're very proud of Andy's accomplishments and his leadership for
OCFT and our sister coalitions around the country!
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Sweatfree Ohio Campaign
On July 1st, the Ohio Conference on Fair Trade joined Sweatfree
Communities and 29 other Ohio organizations in introducing the
Sweatfree Ohio Campaign. We have asked Governor Strickland and the
Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to discontinue
using taxpayer dollars in the procurement of uniforms and other
apparel from sweatshops. The Governor has responded positively by
asking DAS to immediately begin working with offending corporations
to make changes to eliminate sweatshop conditions in their
suppliers' factories. Further actions are being considered by the
Governor to ensure the elimination of these practices and to join
other state procurement offices in supporting more effective means
of monitoring overseas factory conditions.
We are gratified by the wide and diverse support of this campaign.
Ohio labor, faith, educational, community and social justice
organizations have joined this call for more conscious and
responsible public consumption by government purchasing
departments! For more information about this campaign, to lend your
support or to sign on your organization, please visit
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Trade and the Environment
There will be a statewide gathering on the Ohio Statehouse lawn on
Saturday, September 13, for citizens and organizations to pledge to
work for Good Green Jobs for Ohioans. The event, called "Uniting,
Relighting and Employing Ohio," will focus on a clear message to
elected officials: We want their pledge to improve Ohio's economy
by recognizing the connection between fair trade policies,
investments in clean energy and efficiency, and investment in job
A model wind turbine will be raised on the lawn of the statehouse,
and some speakers for the event will arrive in electric cars!
Governor Strickland is expected to speak at this gathering, along
with International Steel Workers President Leo Gerard, and the
Sierra Club Executive Director, Carl Pope. Information will be
available to the public about alternative energy, fair versus free
trade, and what is being done to promote a stronger economy in
Ohio. The event will occur at the Ohio statehouse, corner of High
and Broad, at 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. on September 13th. For more
Ohio's Blue Green Alliance, a collaboration of the Ohio Sierra Club
and the United Steel Workers, are sponsoring this event along with a
host of environmental, labor and social justice organizations,
including the Ohio Conference on Fair Trade. Plan to come to
downtown Columbus and join the fun while adding your voice to this
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The U.S. and China: A Race to the Bottom
by OCFT Intern and OSU Student,
Lana Cushman; edited by Simone Morgen, OCFT Board President
The Olympics typically conjure up images of triumph and high
achievement. The Olympic charter itself states that the Olympics
should promote "a peaceful society concerned with the preservation
of human dignity." While these are clearly admirable ideals, the
Beijing Olympics have already stirred up controversy concerning
China's human rights record. This throws the stated ideals of the
Olympic charter into question.
One can safely assume that the participating athletes will enjoy a
level playing field. The Olympics are celebrated as a time when
people from all over the world can set aside our differences in
order to work together in fairness. However, what about the world
itself? Do we all operate on a level and just playing field? The
answer is obvious, and the answer is no. Who wins and who loses the
global race? While Olympic ideals may sound nice, it is corporate
ideals that reign supreme in the global economic race. The United
States and China are powerhouses in the global economy, and they are
close trade partners. At what cost? Massive U.S. job loss,
suffocation of human rights, and environmental degradation. The
close trade relationship the U.S. and China have enjoyed since
China's admittance into the World Trade Organization in 2001 has
inevitably benefited the few and not the many.
The United States and China trade imbalance needs no words to
illustrate; the numbers are powerful enough. Between 2001 and 2007,
2.3 million American jobs were lost in all 50 states. China's entry
into the World Trade Organization tilted the playing field in favor
of multi-national corporations and investors, and tilting it against
domestic U.S. workers. Even when U.S. workers were re-employed in
non-traded industries, they lost an average of $8,146 per
worker/year. Ohio is certainly no stranger to this economic
devastation, as it ranks 5th in the U.S.'s "biggest losers" of jobs,
with nearly 102,700 lost.
These startling statistics show the true cost of the Wal-Mart model.
As regulations are lifted, corporations are free to move jobs
overseas, where they can ignore labor rights and pay workers well
below a living wage in order to maximize profit. In return, these
irresponsible companies can then sell their often hazardous products
here in the U.S. at seemingly low cost. The true cost, however, is
borne by all of us in the form of exposure to possible pathogens and
loss of local industries.
The U.S. has long considered itself to be the beacon of freedom and
democracy, yet its close trade relationship with China lends itself
to much hypocrisy. China has long been warned about its numerous
human rights abuses. Freedom of speech, a cornerstone of American
rights, is all but unheard of in China. Journalists are regularly
censored, if not imprisoned, for speaking against China's
undemocratic policies. The Chinese government also continues to
support the genocidal regime in Sudan and in Burma as well.
The only race the U.S. and China seem to be winning, sadly, is the
carbon emissions race. China recently surpassed the U.S. as the
biggest carbon emitter, but the U.S. still wins per capita. It is
estimated that nearly 750,000 people in China die prematurely as a
result of the extreme pollution. The Chinese State Environment
Protection Agency asked the World Bank to remove the figures from a
report. Thanks to the rapid industrialization of China and lack of
functioning environmental laws, the sunniest of days in Beijing
President Bush was in Beijing to take in the Olympics. What kind of
message is this sending to the rest of the world? If we look
seriously and critically at the Olympian ideals and the
aforementioned issues, are the U.S. and Chinese government and
corporations really playing by the rules? Or are we merely seeing a
hypocritical obeisance to presumed ideals coupled with a cynical
pursuit of personal gain? The answer seems obvious.
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Bring Battle in Seattle Movie to Ohio!
The Battle in Seattle film starring Charlize Theron, Woody
Harrelson, Ray Liota and 50,000 Seattle WTO protest activists will
open in select cities September 19. Ohio cities are not on the
Here's the deal: Corporate America does not want the real story of
the outrage of corporate globalization, the WTO or how motivated
activists won against impossible odds to tell their story. The
Hollywood studios loved the script - written by actor Stuart Towsend
after three years of research - but refused to make the film even as
they complimented the script as entertaining and compelling.
Townsend persevered. Six years in the making, once complete the
movie got rave reviews at film festivals, but there were no
distribution offers from major film companies.
For a reminder about the significance of the 1999 WTO protests in
Seattle, please see
As Stuart noted in a recent interview: "None of the corporations
wanted to buy. It's a movie with stars. It's a movie they normally
would buy in a heartbeat. Not to get too conspiratorial, but it
hasn't been an easy ride making a movie like this."
So ultimately, Townsend decided to distribute the film
Here's how independent distribution works: if lots of people buy
tickets during the film's first two-week limited release starting
September 19, the film will get national distribution and so will
our story of citizens' speaking truth to power - and winning! If
not, it goes right to DVD - not good. Now, by hitting the seats -
and building demand for getting the film's initial limited release
in more cities - we can create the Seattle Surprise II - national
screening of the most subtly subversive full-feature film you'll
even see packed with major stars and ready to turn on a new
It is easy to get this film to come to our Ohio cities. Stuart has
set up this system on the film's website (www.battleinseattlemovie.com
) that allows anyone to 'DEMAND IT' to come to their city. If 200
people sign up on the Demand It Widget, the film gets sent there
during the opening weeks! This seems like a very worthwhile effort
to get this story out, especially during this election season, as a
way to highlight the importance of fair trade.
As Stuart notes in a forthcoming PC magazine article: "The Seattle
protests captured many of the most important and ongoing issues of
our time. But it was also an event that had largely been forgotten.
I felt that making a fictional movie with well-known actors might be
able to give people a different way to connect and learn about one
of the proudest moments in American history," Townsend said. "The
wonderfully diverse Seattle coalition had its hands on the pulse of
what was going wrong in this world - the corporatization of our
world. And you showed something could be done to fight it."
Please use the
(www.battleinseattlemovie.com ) DEMAND IT function to
get a screening of Battle in Seattle in a city near you! (Note:
Screenings of the movie are being held at both party conventions
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Act: A Positive Path to Sustainable Globalization
Please take a moment to visit a new website that is a must for
activists concerned about issues of globalization, poverty and
hunger. It is
: (http://whocontrolstheworld.com/ ). Look at the featured
post, entitled "Note to WTO, IMF, World Bank: Africa is Not Your
Buffet Table." This is a VERY worthwhile post. Within this post,
you can link to a short youtube
video of Vandana Shiva
talking about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
and their contribution to the global food crisis.
After this post, there are a series of articles, including the
"NAFTA cure: the Congressional Trade Act 2008." Linking to this
article will reveal the following text:
The TRADE Act: Trade Reform
Accountability, Development and Employment Act of 2008
After years of fighting against expansion of the failed NAFTA/WTO
model, new trade legislation has been introduced that would fix WTO
and NAFTA and set us off on a new direction on trade and
This is a tool activists have been waiting for: all of our protests
and the terrible results of agreements like WTO and NAFTA have
created a real broad based public demand for change. To translate
this desire into action, we have to create a majority for change in
Congress. That is because Congress controls U.S. trade and
globalization policy. If we want a new policy, we have to build the
pressure to make Congress take action.
And sometimes the most effective form of activism is reminding each
of our Representatives and Senators that they work for us! Power
concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
The corporations who cooked up WTO and NAFTA are pushing our members
of Congress to do the wrong thing on trade and globalization - more
of the same. U.S. trade policy is made by Congress.
Here is the change tool to get Congress to do the right things - fix
WTO and NAFTA and launch a new American trade and globalization
policy. Numerous labor, environmental, consumer, family farm and
faith groups have endorsed the TRADE Act because it provides a real
road map for change…. The legislation has scores of cosponsors. For
a bill to get a vote, it must have a long list of such cosponsors.
That is where we come in. The prominence of the trade issue in the
presidential primary race has created new political demand for real
change. We must take action now to shape the future debate. You can
connect with local trade activists of the Citizens Trade Campaign -
which has staff all across the country arranging protests, meetings
with members of Congress and more.
So what's in the TRADE act that fixes WTO and NAFTA?
The TRADE Act requires a review of existing trade pacts, including
NAFTA, the WTO and other major pacts, and sets forth what must and
must not be included in future trade pacts. It also provides for the
renegotiation of existing trade agreements like WTO and NAFTA. It
lays out the key elements of a new trade negotiating and approval
mechanism to replace Fast Track - the antidemocratic process that
got us into WTO and NAFTA - that would give Congress and the public
a steering wheel and emergency brake to make sure future deals are
something that could enjoy broad support among the American public.
One of our nation's greatest challenges is to create new rules for
globalization that ensure economic security and the creation of
quality jobs here, while offering opportunities for sustainable
development in poor countries. Such rules would counter rising
income inequality and the threats our current policies pose to
national security, our shared global environment, public health and
safety, and democratic accountability.
The TRADE Act sets forth the food and product safety, environmental
and labor standards; federalism protections; agriculture rules;
national security exceptions; and currency anti-manipulation and
trade remedy rules that must be included in all American trade
pacts. And, because WTO-NAFTA-model trade agreements extend far
beyond traditional trade matters, this section also lists what
cannot be included in future American trade agreements, including
service sector privatization and deregulation requirements; bans on
Buy American and anti-sweat shop or environmental procurement
policies; new rights and privileges for foreign investors to promote
offshoring and expose domestic health and environmental laws to
attacks in foreign tribunals; and special protections for Big
Pharmacy to limit affordable access of generic medicines….
The above text is a great synopsis of the TRADE Act, legislation
that OCFT is working hard to promote. So far, we have helped to
gain support for this Act among seven Congressional Representatives
from the Ohio Caucus. But this important landmark legislation will
not see the light of day until 2009, after a new administration is
in place. So it is VERY important to let our Congresspeople and
their candidate challengers know that we expect them to support this
Act! For more information or to receive contact numbers and talking
points, please contact Karen Hansen (contact info below).
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Our next OCFT meeting will be Monday, September 22nd, at 12 noon
(for 1 hour) at the Ohio AFL-CIO, 395 E. Broad Street in downtown
Columbus. Please feel free to bring your lunch to the meeting!
Schedule of remaining 2008 meetings:
o September 22
o October 27
o November 24
Want to be added to or removed
from the OCFT mail list?
Just email Karen at email@example.com or OHFairTrade@yahoo.com .
Karen Hansen, State Coordinator
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade
PO Box 06595
Columbus, OH 43206
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