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AFL-CIO'S KIRKLAND COMMENTS ON NAFTA VOTE IN HOUSE

 WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland made the following comment on the NAFTA vote in the House:
 NAFTA's approval by the House is a bitter disappointment and a defeat for millions of working Americans.
 I am proud of the effort mounted by the AFL-CIO's affiliated unions and their members. Their work was extraordinary, and I am honored to stand with them. We are on the right side of this issue.
 Those members of Congress who followed their convictions and voted against NAFTA deserve the support and high regard of all Americans. They stood up against the entire power structure of the country and its unlimited access to the government treasury.
 The flurry of horse-trading surrounding the final push to enact this agreement has demonstrated what NAFTA is really about. It was supposed to be voted up or down on its merits -- with no changes allowed. Yet the agreement was changed, many times, in order to buy the votes of representatives seeking protections for their own special interests.
 Working people, of course, were the only ones whose interests were not taken into account. Amid all the planes, trains and bridges -- and all the protections for citrus, peanuts, sugar and wheat -- there was not one word about the rights of workers on both sides of the border to obtain decent wages and safe working conditions or to defend themselves from gross exploitation.
 The result of this process is an agreement that has little to do with the national interest, "free trade," democratic values or the opening of consumer markets in Mexico. Rather, NAFTA's primary goal is to protect the property, patents and profits of U.S. corporations that will locate facilities in Mexico. It gives corporate America an easy and secure means of escape from the minimum conditions of life and labor that the American people, through a democratic process, have established for themselves and their children -- and had hoped to maintain.
 Our fight to keep and improve those standards -- here and around the world -- will not be slowed by this defeat. Instead, we take heart from the extraordinary steadfastness shown by working Americans and their allies in the face of a vigorous assault by the nation's most powerful financial interests and their friends in high places. As a result, the process of trade negotiation was moved from corporate backrooms into the living rooms of average citizens. The AFL-CIO will continue to be in the forefront of the struggle to ensure that trade between nations benefits everyone.
 -0- 11/17/93
 /CONTACT: Candice Johnson of the AFL-CIO, 202-637-5010/


CO: AFL-CIO ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: EXE LEG

KD-MH -- DC039 -- 5807 11/17/93 23:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 17, 1993
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