Monday, March 9, 2015

Minnesota's 2014 trade deficit grew by nearly $1 billion.

In 2014, Minnesota's trade deficit soard to over $13 billion dollars. That's nearly a $1 billion dollar increase from 2013. While export growth was 2.9%, the growth imports was 4.7% for a total of $21.4 billion in exports, and $34.6 billion in imports. The trade deficit represents money that could be going  into the Minnesota economy, providing for good paying jobs and locally produced goods, but instead is going to low-wage countries like China, which accounts for an $8 billion deficit alone. Despite these sobering facts, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is actively touting so-called "free trade agreements," including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as benefitting Minnesota. Touting export numbers only is like saying our baseball team scored 5 runs, but not saying what the other  team scored. The fact is that we're losing the game pretty bad! You can get more information on imports to Minnesota here. And info on exports from Minnesota here.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mapping Dislocated Workers in Minnesota

In the last year there were 40 new certifications of workplaces where workers were dislocated due to trade policies, either outsourcing or closure due to cheaper imports. Among them were Medtronic's animal research facility moving to China, ING Life insurance shifting work to the Philippines, and IBM moving supply chain workers to Mexico. Click the icons on the map to see details the Trade Adjustment Assistance claims in Minnesota over the last 5 years. Unfortunately, because displaced workers have to actively file a petition for TAA or have one filed on their behalf, this represents only a small fraction of the jobs and workers that are being dislocated. We'll be updating this map as new claims become available.
View Mapping Dislocated Workers in Minnesota in a full screen map

Friday, September 26, 2014

Last year MNFTC lobbied the legislature to revive the Trade Policy Advisory Council with community support. This year the council has met twice, and has decided to survey Minnesotans about how free trade is affecting them. The survey is now online at the link is above and here: 


This survey is being sent to businesses, unions, nonprofits and the public. We must make sure that the voice for fair trade is the dominant voice in the survey results! The deadline for filling it out is October 9, but don't just fill it out, please also do the following:

1. Email this link to your friends with the following note: "Free Trade Agreements like NAFTA have sent good paying jobs overseas, wreaked havoc on our environment and destroyed our communities. The State of Minnesota, Trade Policy Advisory Council is conducting a survey to find out Minnesotans' views on free trade agreements. Please take a minute and tell them that free trade doesn't work and we need a new model!"

2. Post the link to the survey on Social Media

3. Put this on the agenda of any union meetings, organization meetings, or any other event you'll be at! 
Once the results have been collected the Trade Policy Advisory Council will hold a public hearing, likely in November, which we will be working hard to organize turnout for. Stay tuned for ways to get involved on the local level to fight for Fair Trade!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Border Crisis, Steel Dumping and More!

On the seventh Episode of the podcast, Amy Shannon from the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities talks about the intersection of trade policy and immigration, and how it relates to the current refugee crisis, and Bob Ryan of the United Steelworkers talks about the recent Department of Commerce decision regarding Korean steel dumping.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Global Trade Radio, Episode 6 is online!

On this month’s episode of Global Trade Radio, Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen analyzes what the Wikileaks leak tells us about the Trade In Services Agreement. Then, former EPA engineer Lyle Hyde explains how the TPP’s environmental chapter is a “bulldog with foam rubber teeth.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rangers rally against steel dumping from Korea

Over 2,000 people came out to the Miner's Memorial Building in Virgina on the 23rd to demand that the Obama administration and the commerce department enforce trade rules to end the illegal dumping of cheap steel, especially from South Korea. In the two years since the Korea FTA was signed, the US trade deficit with Korea has tripled. One of the biggest surges in imports has been from what are called Oil Country Tubular Goods, basically steel pipe. Korea has no domestic market for OCTG, but they subsidize their steel industry and dump the pipes in foreign markets, to the tune of $800 million in the last two years. This seriously undermines the good paying jobs on the Iron Range, as the iron ore used in the dumped pipe comes from Asia and Australia.

Speakers at the rally, which was hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, included Governor Mark Dayton, local mayors, state legislators, and representatives from local businesses and the United Steelworkers, who represent the iron miners.

"Don't let them turn our industry into Wal-Mart," said John Malek, president of USW Local 1938.

"It's essential that the US government stand up for US workers, and enforce Fair Trade practices," said Governor Dayton.

Here are some pictures:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Minnesota DFLers Stand Up for Workers' Rights!

153 members of the US House of Representatives, including all 5 of Minnesota's DFL members signed on to a letter to the United States Trade Representative, demanding that labor rights in countries like Vietnam and Brunei be addressed before Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement negotiations are concluded. Thank you to everyone who made calls and send emails to Reps. Walz, McCollum, Ellison, Peterson, and Nolan, over the last two weeks.  You can read the full letter here!

The letter says: "It is clear that Vietnam, in particular, must do substantial work to achieve a minimally acceptable level of respect for workers’ rights for a trading partner of the United States. Vietnamese law requires that all unions in the country be affiliated with the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, which describes itself as “a member of the political system under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam,” and in so doing violates workers’ rights to form and join independent labor unions of their own choosing. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor lists Vietnam as one of just four countries where there is reason to believe that garments might have been produced by forced or indentured child labor" It goes on to talk about the wide and various violations in other countries. 

The TPP is not the first time that we've made deals with less than savory labor rights actors. When the Colombia Free Trade Agreement was being debated, there was a separate Labor Action Plan that was negotiated in order for it to get enough Democratic votes to pass. However, two years later, that plan has failed to stop the murder of union members or many other of the labor abuses in that country, as the letter states: "'Making the Colombia Labor Action Plan Work for Workers' contained a number of troubling findings, including that the LAP has not eliminated or significantly reduced violence against unionists, that illegal and abusive forms of subcontracting persist, and that little has been done to sanction employers for violating laws designed to protect the right to organize and bargain collectively.

It's highly unlikely that the TPP will actually include acceptable labor standards, but we should thank our Minnesota Representatives who are doing what they can to make workers and working conditions a priority in these negotiations.