Statement from Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell on the U.S.– Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 3087, the U.S.–Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA):
“Today, I voted against H.R. 3087, the U.S.–Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). While this agreement does offer our nation access to Colombia’s services market, it does so without providing basic human rights protection for Colombian workers.
The U.S.–Colombia FTA does not include a labor agreement to protect workers’ rights. Colombian workers have long been denied even basic rights, and Colombia has a history of adopting policies and practices that are aimed specifically at keeping workers from organizing and demanding rights and a safe and secure workplace.
In April, President Barack Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced an Action Plan that holds promise for Colombia’s workers. This plan is a step toward addressing basic labor rights problems and includes explicit obligations and time limits on workers’ rights and protections. Colombia has already failed to meet many of the deadlines detailed in the action plan. Additionally, Colombia is already backing off of many of the plan’s commitments, narrowly interpreting newly-passed labor laws, which is creating massive loopholes that allow employers to continue their abuse and mistreatment of workers.
I believe the focus should now be on carrying out this action plan, and a trade agreement with Colombia should be contingent on its meaningful implementation. H.R. 3087’s failure to even reference this plan is a glaring and major flaw. Therefore, in good conscience, I simply cannot support it. I am confident with time, Colombia can strengthen its commitment to workers’ rights, but until it shows meaningful commitment to raising labor standards and strengthening basic workers rights I cannot support a U.S.–Colombia FTA.”
Contact: Allison Abney; (202) 225-2665; Allison.firstname.lastname@example.org