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Policy: Labor

AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka calls Obama trade policy 'same corporate-dominated process'

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Barack Obama,Labor,AFL-CIO,Richard Trumka,Free Trade,Trade

Add AFL-CIO President RIchard Trumka to the list of people noticing that President Obama has not lived up to his prior rhetoric. In a speech Tuesday morning, he said the president had backslid on the promises he had made to organized labor regarding international trade. "So far, we see the same corporate-dominated processes," he said.

He made the remarks in an address on international trade policy at the liberal Center for American Progress. Like many Big Labor leaders, he is opposed to most such deals because they allow too much competition with lower-priced foreign labor.

Trumka said Obama laid out a good policy at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh by emphasizing jobs, regulations, green energy and income inequality, but has not followed through.

"President Obama has not consistently pursued the vision he laid forth at the G-20. In [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and in the talks with the EU, we see again the old NAFTA template, but with a new, aggressive corporate twist," he said, according to his prepared remarks, which were emailed to reporters.

He noted that it was Obama who made the United States part of the TPP and helped to create Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, both international trade frameworks Big Labor vehemently opposes.

"Our hope has been that we would see a new template, one that we could support. Yet so far, we see the same corporate-dominated processes, and, in too many respects, the same fundamental outdated framework for both agreements," Trumka said.

Trumka's criticism of the president was not particularly strident, though, as he praised him at one point for not supporting economic "austerity" policies. He said the AFL-CIO and other labor groups were still lobbying the White House on trade and remained hopeful they could alter the deals into something they could support.

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