UAW Endorses Korea FTA, Sets Up Fight With Other AFL-CIO Unions

Posted: December 6, 2010

The United Autoworkers Union (UAW) has come out in support of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement as it was supplemented by the two sides late last week, setting up a fight within the AFL-CIO where several other member unions are expected to oppose the deal strongly when it is submitted to Congress.

Union presidents are still consulting with each other on how to proceed in light of the UAW announcement, which has angered them, according to an informed source.

In a Dec. 6 statement, the UAW says the agreement as it was achieved last week “will protect current American auto jobs” and will help create more U.S. jobs in the auto sector. The FTA also includes labor and environmental commitments and contains an “important enforcement mechanism,” according to the statement.

The statement points out that the supplemental deal will delay the elimination of the car tariff for five years, “giving U.S. automakers the time to reverse the damage caused by decades of South Korean protectionism.” It also notes that the U.S. 25 percent truck tariff elimination is delayed until year 8 of the agreement and then phased out in year 10.

The statement notes that the supplemental deal was reached in collaboration with the Obama administration, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI), and top management of the Ford Motor Company.

The agreement is “an important step in giving labor a real voice in trade negotiations,” the UAW statement argues. “We look forward to working with the Obama Administration on the issue of global rights for workers—especially the right to organize and bargain collectively.”

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