96-H 9252

Passed in House

Jun. 18, 1996.


WHEREAS, Kendall Healthcare in Cumberland used to be a sterling example of American ingenuity and skill, with its dedicated, industrious employees manufacturing some of the finest medical products in the world. Every year profits went up, shares appreciated in value, and Kendall expanded and grew stronger. Now the company is leaving Cumberland and Rhode Island for the cheap labor market in Mexico. There is no way that an American worker can compete with someone making $1.80 per hour. There is no way that the 450 Kendall employees, or any American workers, should be called upon to compete with wages like this. The American Dream must not become a race to the bottom; and

WHEREAS, When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified, the American people were promised 200,000 new jobs -- they have lost 600,000. NAFTA was supposed to increase exports to Mexico -- it turned a $1.7 billion surplus into a $15 billion trade deficit. NAFTA was going to raise wages for Mexican workers -- their wages have actually fallen from an average $2.61 an hour to $1.80. NAFTA simply is not working -- it needs to be fixed. The means to that end is the NAFTA Accountability Act, introduced by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and cosponsored by Representative Patrick J. Kennedy and a bipartisan coalition of 100 Democratic and Republican members of Congress; and

WHEREAS, The NAFTA Accountability Act directs the President to renegotiate the treaty if the U.S. trade deficit with any of the other parties to the agreement exceeds 10% of U.S. exports to that country; requires the certification of grains in U.S. jobs and living standards attributable to NAFTA; requires certification that exports from the U.S. to NAFTA parties exceed imports from NAFTA parties, without regard to goods which the U.S.. exports for foreign assembly that then come back into the country for final consumption; requires certification tha human and political rights are respected and that democratic systems exist in countries that are parties to NAFTA; and, prohibits the expansion of NAFTA to other countries until the aforementioned conditions are met; and

WHEREAS, As of February 26, 1996, the United States Department of Labor was inundated with filings for NAFTA unemployment help from over 90,000 workers from over 850 firms located in 48 states. Workers certified under the special NAFTA TAA program represent only a fraction of the total U.S. job loss because of NAFTA. Only workers who know about, and choose to apply for, the new program are even considered, and only certain types of workers, in certain types of companies, are eligible. Taken in conjunction with the facts that U.S. real wages have continued to fall since NAFTA, that Mexico's economy and social conditions have continued to deteriorate since NAFTA, and that environmental and health conditions have worsened, all of this evidence leads to the inescapable conclusion that NAFTA, as currently constituted, does not work. It does not represent the future, nor is it even free trade or fair trade. It is simply wrong; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby memorializes the Congress to support the passage of the NAFTA Accountability Act. The tragedy of Kendall Healthcare must not be allowed to spread and become a symbol for an American future of diminished hopes and aspirations, a bleak landscape of closed factories and growing lines of unemployed and exploited American workers. It is not too late to rectify the NAFTA mistake if we possess the courage and will to bargain for a fair and just future; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copyies of this resolution to the members of the Rhode Island delegation to the United States Congress.

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