The U.S. of A. at the W.T.O.: Reform Is Needed

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is holding a ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina today. The remarks from one of those ministers have been anxiously anticipated.  

Here was a curtain-raising profile, published Sunday in the Financial Times, of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer:

Though he is a life-long Republican and served as the treasurer for mentor Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign Mr Lighthizer has long been at odds with the party’s pro-trade mainstream. As a top lawyer for the US steel industry he also developed strong relationships with fellow trade skeptics in the Democratic party and at labour unions. 

“He’s true to his principles,” says Thea Lee, incoming president of the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “He does care about the US trade deficit and he cares about jobs on American soil. A lot of business interests don’t care about either one of those things.” 

Lighthizer is considered a trade hawk within the Trump administration, whose personal views on this issue hew closely to the president’s -- skeptical, in a word.

If that’s what was expected of Lighthizer when he addressed the WTO gathering today, then the trade ambassador didn’t disappoint.

It has been observed that this criticism is part and parcel of a telegraphed Trump administration strategy to pull back U.S. leadership from institutions of which it’s skeptical. That’s a departure from the tack of the Obama administration, which had beef with the WTO but remained willing to work within the system.  

From another FT article:

Administration officials argue the WTO has failed in its mandate to negotiate new rules for the global economy and locked the US into mismatched tariffs. Its current procedures were never designed to cope with the brand of state capitalism that China has ridden to success for three decades, they say.

And that – our skewed trading relationship with China – is really what this is all about. Today is the one-year anniversary of China’s 15th year as a WTO member, which is when it expected to be treated like a market economy in disputes with its trading partners.

China is clearly not a market economy, and it shouldn’t be granted the benefit of being treated like one.

AAM isn’t advocating for the dismantling of the WTO. But it certainly needs reform, and we approve of the Trump administration’s unilateral moves to take on unfair Chinese trade. Said AAM President Scott Paul:

"The White House has voiced valid criticism of the WTO and should continue fighting for a fair dispute system. Concurrently, the administration should follow-through on open Section 232 steel and aluminum imports. American jobs are at stake, and workers deserve action now."

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work