A message from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa

Standing up for workers

I applaud the recent majority Senate vote in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a significant achievement in the fight to restore America's middle class. The legislation garnered majority support in the Senate of 51-48, but required 60 votes to block Republican opposition to gain passage.

The vote showed us who is standing with workers and which politicians are in collusion with corporate America to destroy the middle class. Workers have the support of a majority in the U.S. Senate in their fight to improve their economic futures, and there is no turning back.

In March, the House passed EFCA on a vote of 241-185. Introduced with bipartisan support in the House, EFCA is the first major attempt to reform labor law since the 1970s. Employees face a 20 percent chance of being fired if they actively campaign to unionize. EFCA establishes penalties for violating workers' rights during their effort to form a union and in negotiations for a first contract.

"The legal system that is supposed to protect workers is broken, and workers are paying a terrible price. Corporations trample on workers with reckless disregard for the law and they must be stopped.

The End of Fast Track

Recently, President Bush's "Fast Track" trade negotiating authority expired for good. It has been a long and difficult five years for workers everywhere. With the expiration of Fast Track, perhaps this finally means that we can move in an entirely new direction on our trade and globalization policies.

Since Fast Track, trade negotiations have been accelerated to an alarming speed, denying legislators and the public the appropriate time to consider the serious ramifications of these agreements. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has used Fast Track to push too many job killing, NAFTA-style trade agreements.

We have lost more than 3 million manufacturing jobs since 2001, many to offshore outsourcing, while an increasing number of white-collar service-sector jobs are also at risk. At the same time, our trade deficit has ballooned to nearly $800 billion. For the USTR to call for more Fast Trade deals is ridiculous.

The Teamsters Union strongly opposes these job-killing trade deals. Until the U.S. trade model and policies begin to focus on job creation here at home, we will continue to oppose such deals.

The Teamsters Union looks forward to working with members of Congress on a new economic trade model that creates jobs at home and lifts up workers everywhere.



James P. Hoffa
General President



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen