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June 23, 2005

Why Can't Folks Understand Trade and Labor Rights

Since Matt Y endorsed Tyler Cowen's list of CAFTA issues (even if Matt ends up against the treaty), I thought Cowen's point on labor rights was worth citing as a perfect example of the ignorance of pro-treaty proponents:

Don't worry that the agreement does little for labor rights or environmental protection in Central America. Imposing such policies, before the recipient countries are wealthy enough to support them, is usually counterproductive.
The core labor rights demanded by unions, in all countries, is for the right of free speech in the workplace, the right not to be fired for demanding respect. Is that too expensive for any country? Are core human rights a luxury-- and do pro-treaty folks extend that to political free speech as well? No one is demanding that Central America raise its minimum wage to the same level as the US -- however pathetic that is getting these days. What is demanded is that workers in Central America get to decide what wage is acceptable to THEM; if they think high wages will drive jobs overseas, they won't demand it. But the decision should be theirs, not an authoritarian government or multinational corporation that can fire them at will without respect to their free speech rights to advocate being in a union.

Posted by Nathan at June 23, 2005 02:15 PM