The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Labor, Progressive Coalition Confront ‘CAFTA 15â€TM Democrats

by Brendan Coyne

Aug. 10, 2005 – Organized labor and progressive groups are taking the battle against free trade to fifteen Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of the recently-passed Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Dubbed the "CAFTA 15" by groups opposed to the trade pact, the Democratic members of the House of Representatives who voted for the bill face a growing opposition. Critical groups, which include unions, community organizers, minor political parties and others, say the agreement will further erode domestic job security and do little, if anything, to improve the lot of workers in partner countries.

Sunday, a group of unions, members of two community organizations and New York State politicians rallied on the steps of City Hall in New York City, criticizing two Democratic representatives from the city – Gregory W. Meeks and Edolphus Towns – who voted in favor of the bill, the New York Times reported Monday.

In a letter sent to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the groups demanded that the two Congressmen be removed from committee seats as punishment for crossing party lines to approve the measure.

Representatives from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Citizen Action of New York and United Auto Workers signed the letter. All signatories are also members or officials of the Working Families Party.

The action came little more than a week after AFL-CIO President John Sweeney issued a statement denouncing Republicans and Democrats who supported CAFTA for voting against the interests of US workers.

"Those Republicans who voted for CAFTA chose party loyalty and corporate bucks over their constituents," Sweeney said on July 28, the day after the measure was approved by the House. "Those Democrats who voted for CAFTA sided with big business over the working men and women who walked their neighborhoods, staffed their phone banks, and worked hard to put them in office."

Democrats are not the sole target of anti-CAFTA criticism. Yesterday, the United Steel Workers and Western New York Trade Coalition announced a demonstration against Representative Randy Kuhl, an Upstate Republican CAFTA supporter. The protest will take place at his Olean, New York office on Thursday.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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