Winners & Losers: AFL-CIO Abandons Obama on 'NAFTA-Style' Trade Deal

What a week! When it was mentioned on Monday that this would be interesting to watch with popcorn in hand, who could have imagined just how interesting it would get?


Between Monday and today, the President of the United States has been called a sellout and ‘mentally disturbed,’ as well as essentially told to go reproduce himself (in a not-fit-for-print sort of way), all by members of his own party.

With the UAW’s Bob King endorsing the ‘NAFTA-style‘ South Korean trade deal as a reward for the administration’s “good behavior,” President Obama started his week with a trade deal in his breast pocket and the UAW’s King in his back pocket.  However, when Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher* and crew called King out for his selling out of the rest of the union movement, time stopped for the trade deal called KORUS.

Finally, after four days of hemming and hawing over something that (according to the Machinists’ Matt McKinnon) wasn’t “worth a bucket of warm spit,” the AFL-CIO followed Jane’s lead and bailed on Obama on Thursday. [Apparently, it took union bosses four days longer than FDL to make a decision on whether the UAW’s 800 jobs was worth the 159,000 its own union-funded EPI estimated would be lost.] Last night, WaPo reported:


The proposed U.S.-South Korea free-trade deal drew fire from major unions Thursday, disrupting the Obama administration’s hope for building a broad consensus behind its first free-trade pact.

The AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers, the International Association of Machinists and the Communications Workers of America all said they would oppose the deal when it comes before Congress next year, arguing that it will drain U.S. manufacturing jobs and does not include worker and other protections unions had hoped President Obama would demand.

Now, with the union movement tossing Obama’s big foray into international negotiations into the fail column, either Obama will kill the deal, or he’ll have to side with Big Business against backers that he is beholden to. He’s in a lose, lose.

This week, several things became clear.

First, FDL’s Jane Hamsher was single-handedly able to organize her troops and all-but-scuttle a trade deal faster than the entire executive council of the AFL-CIO, making her more relevant and powerful than Richard Trumka and the 54 other union bosses who sat on their hands wondering what to do for four days about the sell out within their own ranks (which makes one wonder why union members are paying billions to unions, instead of her).


Second, the Left has come to the conclusion that their Chosen One is more mouth than muscle.

Third, as Dan McLaughlin pointed out, Obama may have just rendered himself to be the lamest of lame ducks.

With popcorn in hand, we can’t wait to see what next week brings.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776



P.S. By the way, Jane…

#1: No affiliation with the Chamber;
#2: No pay, just passion;
#3: If you didn’t break up with Andy over the public option, we’ll take your word for it (historically though, IMHO, Sal & Co. has been more credible than the purple kool-aid drinkers at the SEIU).



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