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Labor Leader Leaves for U.S. to Block FTA

Posted February. 12, 2008 03:02,   


The chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions left yesterday for a four-day trip to the United States, seeking to nullify the ratification of the bilateral free trade agreement in cooperation with U.S. labor groups.

Lee Suk-haeng plans to hold a joint news conference Monday in Washington with John Sweeney, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), to block the deal’s passage.

Lee will also hold talks Wednesday with Sandy Levin, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, before returning to Korea the following day.

A confederation spokesman said, “Chairman Lee’s visit is intended to seek cooperation from the U.S. Congress and labor circles to nullify the deal, as the two governments have pushed their legislatures for prompt ratification of the agreement.”

Lee is apparently planning to pressure the Democratic Party via the AFL-CIO, which is a major donor to the party.

The two leading Democratic presidential candidates -- New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Illinois Senator Barack Obama – have both expressed opposition to the free trade accord with Korea.