Darlene Hooley on trade and CAFTA
Copied from the Pacific Greens website, this is the letter that Rep. Hooley wrote to Green candidate Mitch Besser before he dropped out of the race against her. Hooley says she will vote against CAFTA "as it is written," but she seems to think the main issue is labor standards. I think the main issue is whether American workers should be forced to compete for their jobs and wage levels against workers in countries with a much lower standard of living. The idea is fundamentally unworkable.
I've attached a copy of the letter Darlene sent me.
Please be sure to put a copy in a safe place just in
case Darlene should go back on her word. I assume the
CC can file this away where it might be used by some
future candidate. If the Green Party would like a
signed hard copy, let me know and I'll throw it in the
Just a final note before I go away from the candidate
list. It was a pleasure working with all of you.
While I might not be able to continue, I will cheer
all of you on towards the finish.
I enjoyed our discussion Monday, and apologize that my
schedule would not permit me to stay longer. I wanted
to follow up with you in writing, and I hope that
later this evening or this weekend we have the
opportunity to talk so that I can answer any questions
you may have or provide any further information.
At present when the economy is struggling and the high
percentage of the US workforce is unemployed, I view
it as my responsibility to ensure that the federal
government uses all the tools at its disposal to keep
U.S. companies in the 50 states and to allow qualified
American workers the first opportunity when companies
seek to fill job openings before turning to qualified
workers outside the country to fill positions.
As you well know, the economic prosperity of the 1990s
and the high tech boom resulted in a shortage of high
tech workers. The federal government sought to
address the issue by increasing the number of high
tech workers and by providing funding for education
and training to meet the demand for skilled
professionals in this area.
At the end of Fiscal Year 2003, with the US in the
throes of a recession and high unemployment, the cap
on H-1B visas reverted from 195,000 to 65,000 visas
annually, a move I wholeheartedly supported. Yet
neither the Republican majority in Congress nor the
Bush Administration has further considered the need
for skilled worker visa reform during this time of
chronically high unemployment.
Times certainly have changed, and public policies need
to change accordingly. The federal government should
take steps to ensure that corporations operating
domestically consider qualified American workers for
positions before seeking to fill positions with
qualified candidates who are H-1B eligible.
There are ways to ensure this, all of which involve
changes in the agenda of the current Congressional
leadership and that of the current Administration.
Congress should apply the more stringent requirements
for H-1B dependent firms to all companies seeking to
hire an H-1B worker. This would mean that all firms
seeking to hire an H-1B worker would have to attest
that they have attempted to recruit U.S. workers and
that they have not laid off U.S. workers at least 90
days prior to or after hiring any H-1B non-immigrants.
This is one easy way of ensuring that qualified
American workers can apply for all available
Also, I support HR 2702, which would place a 35,000
annual limit on L-1 visas as well as additional
restrictions. As you know, L-1 visas are largely
unrestricted visas that allow companies to transfer
foreign employees to U.S. offices. Unfortunately, this
legislation was referred to the House Judiciary
Committee, where the Chairman has failed to schedule
hearings for nearly a year.
I also appreciate you providing me with a copy of the
"Yardstick" for candidates on trade issues. I use many
of these principles to guide my decision making
process on each trade agreement. (For instance, trade
agreements should not empower foreign corporations or
member states to challenge governments with laws to
protect public welfare.)
As trade agreements come before me for a vote, I view
them with two overriding principles:
Does this agreement specifically support the five core
international labor standards?
Does this agreement help the constituents, workers and
economy of Oregon's Fifth district?
If the answer is no to either or both of these
questions, I oppose the agreement. I strongly believe
there should be specific language in all trade
agreements reflecting international core labor
standards, including the rights to associate and
bargain collectively as well as prohibitions on child
labor, forced labor and workplace discrimination. I
have opposed trade agreements that have threatened
specific district industries which are important to
the local economy or national industries that are
critical to the larger US economy and our place in the
I have been alarmed that recent agreements have
contained language pertaining to intellectual property
rights on goods and services, such as pharmaceuticals
and gene sequences. Policy matters such as the
re-importation on FDA-approved prescription drugs and
the intellectual property of gene sequences are best
left to the Congress and the Food and Drug
Administration, rather than the United States Trade
Representative. I've called on the USTR to cease these
types of activities in the future.
As a staunch advocate of country-of-origin labeling
for produce and meat, I am also greatly concerned that
some agreements could be drafted to restrict the
ability of a government to protect the food security
of its people.
Among trade agreements Congress will soon consider is
the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The
Bush Administration gave Congress notification of its
intent to sign the agreement with the Central American
countries on February 20, 2004 and with the Dominican
Republic on March 25, 2004; Ambasador Robert Zoellick
signed the agreement on May 28th and August 5th
respectively. Under the provisions of the Trade
Promotion Authority in the Trade Act of 2002, which I
opposed, the Administration must now formally submit
the pact to Congress for implementation and approval.
There is no deadline for the US Congress to approve
the US CAFTA pact.
Because I was very disturbed that Ambasador Zoellick
was negotiating under the view that the five
countries' labor laws "are largely compliant" with the
international core labor standards, I called on
Zoellick to include meaningful and effective
enforcement mechanisms. In December of 2003, my
colleagues and I asked Zoellick to specifically
include language reflecting international core labor
standards, including the 5 ILO standards.
I have since reviewed both the draft and the final
CAFTA agreement. As it is written, I cannot and will
not support the CAFTA agreement in its current form.
Not only does it exclude the 5 ILO standards, it could
possibly reduce existing labor protections by
overriding the Caribbean Basin Initiative standards.
I am deeply concerned about the mass exodus of good
paying manufacturing jobs from the Pacific Northwest.
This country's manufacturing base plays a significant
role in building a middle class and keeping this
country healthy. Over the past decade I have watched
jobs at Freightliner, Agrifrozen, and many other
businesses depart, often hundreds at a time. I am
committed to doing everything I can to keep these
corporations in the United States.
It is imperative that Congress act quickly to help the
40 million Americans currently looking for work get
back on the job. I was an early supporter of the
Crane-Rangel Job Creation Bill which gives
manufacturers a tax incentive to keep jobs here rather
than moving them abroad and am working hard to keep
the reauthorization of TEA-21 on track for final
approval so federal monies can be released to Oregon
for critical projects such as bridge repair, coast,
harbor and highway improvements.
Finally, on the issue of instant run-off voting, I
cosponsored legislation introduced in the 107th
Congress promoted by IRV advocates. This legislation,
HR 57, was introduced by Congressmen Peter DeFazio
(D-OR) and Jim Leach (R-IA) which would have created
an independent commission to study election reform,
including IRV. It was not reintroduced in the 108th
Congress nor was the issue of election reform
seriously considered. Only with new leadership will
the agenda of Congress change, allowing members to
have the opportunity to consider and debate a range of
election reforms to ensure that citizens can and will
exercise their right to vote.
Again, it was a pleasure to meet with you and to hear
I look forward to working with you and all working
families to put America back to work and to keep our
country strong. If you would like to discuss these
matters further, please call me.
Member of Congress
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