Ohio Conference on Fair Trade

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Ohio Conference on Fair Trade was a statewide coalition of Faith, Labor, Environmental, Family Farm, Community and Social Justice organizations, working together for social, economic and environmental justice within U.S. trade and globalization policy.

As you well know, the WTO and our trade agreements sold out the people and democratic principles to corporations in the mid-90's.

Activism

OCFT met monthly at the Ohio AFL-CIO offices at 395 E. Broad St in Columbus. At "our meetings, we update each other on current issues and pertinent legislation, assist each other with projects and individual and organizational initiatives, organize for action on upcoming meetings and/or legislation, share announcements and opportunities for involvement, and strategize on next steps for building local presence and collaboration with potential partners".

OCFT is committed to working with the political process. A sample of their efforts includes:

Fall ’01, Winter/Spring/Summer ’02-Lobbying Ohio’s Senators and selected U.S. Representatives to vote against Fast Track legislation. Lobbying efforts included visits and phone calls with members of Congress, letters to the editor, and rallies.

Feb. ’02-Several members participated in the teach-in and march in NYC to protest the policies of the World Economic Forum.

Sep. ’02-Lobbying selected members of the Ohio delegation in the U.S. House on legislation to limit or restrict funds to the IMF and World Bank.

Fall ’02--Lobbying the Ohio delegation and Pres. Bush to impose steel tariffs, given increasing U.S. steel mill bankruptcy filings.

Jason Tockman maintained a listserve to inform all interested persons about OCFT meetings and events. [1]

Personnel

2007 officers

OCFT welcomes new Board member Melissa Campbell from USW Local 2737.

New Officers on the Board of Directors:

State coordinator

In 2008, Karen Hansen, was State Coordinator.[3]

Supporting TRADE Act

In June 2008, the Ohio Conference on Fair Trade commended Sen. Sherrod Brown and five members of Ohio's congressional delegation for co-sponsoring the groundbreaking Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, introduced by Sen. Brown and Rep. Mike Michaud yesterday in Washington D.C.

Representatives Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan, Betty Sutton and Charlie Wilson were among over fifty original House and Senate co-sponsors joining labor, environmental, family farm and faith groups in support of new consensus legislation which offers a positive vision for future U.S. trade policy.

"Fair and level global trade is long overdue and Ohio's workers and communities have paid a steep price," says Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO Chief of Staff and OCFT member. The state's labor federation, representing over one million workers, praised Senator Brown's initiative. "Sen. Brown has taken the reins to address the economic meltdown that turning over our foreign trade rights to corporate profiteers has caused."

"This bill breaks new ground on the enforcement of labor rights, environmental protection, food and product safety, procurement, safeguards against surges of imports, trade remedies against unfair trade practices and the ability for countries to regulate foreign investment," said Bruce Raynor, President of UNITE HERE.

"When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!" says Joe Logan, past President of both OCFT and the Ohio Farmers Union.

"Our ill-conceived trade policy has placed the American economy in great jeopardy." National Farmers Union President Tom Buis said.

Ben Burkett, President of the National Family Farm Coalition added: "(The TRADE Act) is clear that fair trade begins with farmers being able to earn fair prices reflecting cost of production, fair treatment of farm labor, and limitations against unfair dumping practices.

The TRADE Act also triggers a review of all existing trade agreements, and provides a process to renegotiate them. "Long overdue, this comprehensive approach allows us to reassess the failed trade model that has damaged workers and the environment, and jeopardized food security and public health," says OCFT President Simone Morgen, representing Columbus Jobs with Justice. "We have the opportunity for a new beginning that can spread the benefits of fair trade to the widest possible number of people. This is change we can really believe in!"[4]

References

  1. Central Ohio Group Issues
  2. [rhttp://copn.tripod.com/OCFT.htm, Ohio Conference on Fair Trade Newsletter, June 27, 2007]
  3. Working Together for Global Economic Justice, August News
  4. [http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/20080605_LeadersLaunchTradeAct_OhioCFT2.pdf, Ohio Conference on Fair Trade press release, June 5, 2008}