Teamsters’ Hoffa to ‘Hold Accountable’ Congressmen Who Voted for Obama-Backed Free-Trade Deals

By Matt Cover | October 17, 2011 | 3:12pm EDT

Teamsters President James P. Hoffa (AP Photo)

( – Teamsters Union President James P. Hoffa said that his union will “hold accountable” members of Congress who voted to pass the three long-delayed free trade agreements last week.

“The Teamsters will hold members of Congress accountable at the ballot box for their votes on these damaging trade deals,” Hoffa said in a statement denouncing the deals.

“Our representatives just voted to damage our economy, raise unemployment and lower workers' wages,” he said. “These trade deals protect the profit of multinationals at the expense of American working families.”

Hoffa’s scorn was at odds with the laudatory words of President Barack Obama, who finally pushed for the free-trade deals after they had languished in Congress for several years.

“I’ve fought to make sure that these trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama deliver the best possible deal for our country, and I’ve insisted that we do more to help American workers who have been affected by global competition,” Obama said in an Oct. 12 statement marking the passage of all three agreements.

James Hoffa and President Obama (AP Photo)

Obama said that the agreements would “support tens of thousands” of jobs in America while protecting the environment, workers’ rights, and intellectual property rights.

“Tonight’s vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label ‘Made in America,’ support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property,” he said.

“American automakers, farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, including many small businesses, will be able to compete and win in new markets,” said the president.

Hoffa, however, said that policies like the free trade deals, which are expected to create up to 77,000 jobs, were exactly what liberal activists across the country were protesting against.

“This is one of the reasons people are marching in the streets of dozens of American cities,” said Hoffa. “Their government is betraying them, and they're furious.”

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