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The UAW, many members of Congress and the Obama administration all publicly criticized the U.S. Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) negotiated by President George W. Bush in 2007.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama began the process of renegotiating the flawed trade deal to explicitly address the automotive provisions that threatened the health of the domestic industry and jeopardized thousands of American jobs.
UAW members show support for striking South Korean Hyundai workers at the Hyundai-Kia Motors American Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Photo by Chris Skelly.
For the first time ever, the UAW was consulted and played a meaningful role in the negotiations and was able to successfully influence the process and secure significant improvements to the automotive provisions in the trade agreement.
Here are some facts about the renegotiated agreement:
Why does the UAW support the 2010 KORUS FTA now when it didn’t support the 2007 agreement?
The UAW believes the renegotiated 2010 agreement gives far better protection to our UAW members than the 2007 agreement because it will protect current American auto jobs and grow more American auto jobs. The KORUS FTA also includes labor and environmental commitments, as well as important enforcement mechanisms. We also believe that if we did not get actively engaged before the Republican majority took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, then the Republicans would have advocated for the 2007 Bush-negotiated agreement with NO safeguards for our members.
How does the 2010 agreement give UAW members more protection than the 2007 agreement?
Does the 2010 agreement open the Korean markets to our U.S.-made vehicles better than the 2007 agreement?
Is there a limit to the number of Korean cars that can be imported to the U.S.?
How else was the KORUS FTA improved?
Korea has agreed to additional transparency in the area of all nontariff barriers, including creating a 12-month period between the time a new regulation is issued and when U.S. auto companies must comply with it.
Does the KORUS FTA address labor rights?
The agreement includes labor standards for the protection of worker rights, including obligations for Korea to respect core International Labor Organization fundamental labor rights; not to weaken the laws that reflect those rights in any way; and to effectively enforce labor laws designed to ensure a level playing field for American workers to compete. These labor standards are enforceable in the same manner as the commercial provisions of the FTA. Past trade agreements have addressed labor rights in side agreements that are difficult to enforce.
Source: UAW Legislative, Governmental and International Affairs Department