Report Back on the Citizen Trade Commission’s Public Hearing
The Citizens Trade Commission held a very inspiring and informative public hearing on CAFTA and other trade issues last Thursday Feb. 3 at Husson College in Bangor. Well over 100 people attended the 3 ½ hour hearing and some 37 people offered testimony. The testifiers overwhelmingly sent a clear message that CAFTA is the wrong direction for Maine and should be opposed and that our current model of trade policy is out of line with things that are important to Maine families like good jobs, accessible public services, a healthy environment, working family farms and small businesses, a strong democracy and supportive, respectful relationships with our brothers and sisters in other countries. The public hearing helped to reframe the whole debate about trade agreements by raising numerous questions about whether the rules were fair and whether they were benefiting working families, small businesses, the environment and democracy in Maine and around the world.
People testifying spoke eloquently, knowledgeably and from their heart on a wide range of trade topics. Speakers made very clear requests and recommendations of the commission, including a request that the commission recommend to Maine’s Congressional delegation that they vote against CAFTA. The whole public hearing was a very inspiring display of grassroots democracy and as several people noted, it offered a much better, inclusive model for how to develop trade policy that hopefully will trickle up to the national level.
Here is a full list of all the testifiers and the topics they spoke about. Many thanks to all of the MFTC affiliated individuals & organizations for offering such excellent testimony.
~ Rosemary Winslow, Statement from Congressman Michaud (trade & impact on jobs)
~ Erik Odier- Fink, Justice Clothing (race to the bottom; lack of purchasing power for workers)
~ Allyn Beecher, Monroe Millworks (small business perspective and need for international standards)
~ Bonnie Preston, Alliance for Democracy (Trade agreements-H20,water pdf)
~ Par Kettis, former European trade negotiator, (Need for enforceable labor standards, need to fix problems in these agreements)
~ Jimmy Cook, Teamsters local 340 (Impact on workers here & abroad, assassination of Teamsters organizer, Gilberto Soto in El Salvador)
~ Matt Raynes, lawyer for Modular Manufacturers Association of the Northeast (NAFTA border issues with Canadian truckers also erecting modular housing in the US)
~ Dan Donahue, Modular Manufacturers Assoc. of the Northeast (same as above)
~ Patti Dunbar, Food and Medicine (Impact of job loss and trade deals on children in our communities)
~ Maureen Drouin, Maine Sierra Club (Impact of CAFTA and trade policies on the environment)
~ Miguel Reinoso, Alliance for Democracy (direct impacts he has seen on Ecuador; failure of this “free trade” model & impact of IMF debt policies)
~ Kendal Dunbar, Machinists Local 1821 (Impact of trade policies on working families; submitted petitions urging the commission to recommend that Congressional delegation vote against CAFTA)
~ Valerie Carter, BACORD, (Trade agreements and restrictions on zoning & development)
~ Stefano Tijerina, PICA, (The Andean Free Trade Agreement)
~ Joe Bandy, Bowdoin professor, (NAFTA’s impact on labor conditions in Mexico & US; need for new model of trade policy)
~ Tessa Burpee, family potato farm in Aroostook county ( NAFTA’s harmful impact on her family’s potato farm)
~ Laura Millay, MOFGA, (Trade agreements and small farmers)
~ Dennis Chinoy, PICA (CAFTA’s impact on vital public services)
~ Katherine Kates, El Salvador Sister Cities (CAFTA’s impact on El Salvadorans)
~ Randall Parr, Rockland Forum (What elements a good trade agreement should have)
~ Margaret Bailey, PICA, (Impact on Central America)
~ Sara Stalman, Maine Peoples Alliance (CAFTA/GATS impact on healthcare)
~ Lori Connor, (Trade & Democracy)
~ Cathy Mink, Waldo Progressives (NAFTA Chapter 11 and loss of democracy)
~ Alec Aman, student, (Trade rules impact on social security privatization)
~ Jack McKay, Greater Bangor Central Labor Council (Labor rights vs. Commercial rights in CAFTA)
~ Arthur Spiess, (GATS threat to libraries)
~ Martha Spiess, WILPF & MFTC (Trade & Water, Trade & Gambling and procurement)
~ David White, Maine Peoples Alliance (Trade & healthcare)
~ Francois Amar, PICA, (Trade & corporate power, loss of democracy & citizenry)
~ JR Gibson, IBEW 2327 (Impact on service sector workers, threat of outsourcing & job loss in Washington county; No CAFTA)
~ Jane Sanford (CAFTA & US-Australia FTA impact on access to medicines in US & Central America)
~ Florence Reed, Sustainable Harvest (CAFTA’s impact on Central American farmers)
~ Victor Skorapa, Veterans for Peace, (Trade & Public Services)
~ Bill Beardsley, Husson College (benefits to consumers of free trade)
~ Rep. Troy Jackson (Impact on northern Maine)
~ John Wentworth, owner Moosehead Manufacturers furniture business (devastating impact of cheap Chinese imports on his business)
Several people, including Pat Carleton from PACE Local 9, were planning to testify but had to leave before the hearing concluded.
The Citizens Trade Commission will take the public testimony and requests and recommendations very seriously. Commission staff will be posting the testimonies on the commission website, preparing a summary of the testimony by topic, and putting together a list of all the recommendations and requests made. We’ll certainly pass this information along once it is compiled.
Thanks again to everyone who attended and testified at the hearing! We all worked very hard to create this commission. It was awesome to see it up and running and serving its purpose of giving all of us a real voice on trade issues.