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Local Activists Oppose CAFTA

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Ten years ago, there was the North America Free Trade Agreement -- known as NAFTA. Today, there is the Central America Free Trade Agreement. The Western New York Free Trade Coalition is calling on federal leaders to say no to CAFTA.

Coalition members stood in front of the former M. Wile plant on Goodell Street in Buffalo Wednesday as an example of the city's former manfacturing base and a place that produced American-made clothing. They say CAFTA will destroy more manufacturing jobs in this region and cause harm to an already fragile American economy.

"According to the government's own analysis, CAFTA will do nothing to help the American economy and make our trade deficit worst," said Jack Davis, chairman of the Save American Jobs Association and owner of his own manufacturing company in Akron.

State Assemblywoman Susan John of Rochester says CAFTA would allow the US to export its own resources for foreign made products that are then sold back to Americans.

"We export the stuff that gets made into the things people buy," John said. "We are not exporting finished goods to other countries."

The Coalition says CAFTA will cause the same negative effects NAFTA created over the past 10 years on US manufacturing jobs. The steel industry was hit hard by NAFTA and foreign steel imports. Bill Pienta -- director of the United Steel Workers of America District 4 -- says CAFTA would only lead to more outsourcing.

"United Steel Workers will not stand by and have the Governor of New York give away our right to keep good manufacturing jobs in New York State," Pienta said. "We are asking those who care about good jobs in New York to stand with us."

CAFTA is expected to be up for votes in the House and Senate in the upcoming weeks. The Coalition is urging Congressman Tom Reynolds and Senator Hillary Clinton to vote against CAFTA.