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…Working Together for
          Global Economic Justice

    August News:                                                                                                    
   1.    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 Globalization
   7.   Next Meetings

1. 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 here.

We're very proud of Andy's accomplishments and his leadership for OCFT and our sister coalitions around the country!

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2. 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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3. 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 training.  

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 information, visit .

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 important initiative!

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4.  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 appear murky.
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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5.  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 list…..yet!

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 this.
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 independently.
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 generation.
It is easy to get this film to come to our Ohio cities.  Stuart has set up this system on the film's website ( ) 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 website ( ) 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 this year!)

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6.  TRADE 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 here:  ( ).  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 globalization policy.
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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7.  Next Meetings
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 or .
Karen Hansen, State Coordinator
(614) 280-3631
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade
PO Box 06595
Columbus, OH  43206


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