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Vol.25, No. 18 Mar. 31, 2000

AFL/ CIO Labor Chief Says International Social Reform Is a 'Moral Imperative'

Calling international social reform a "moral imperative and economic necessity," AFL/CIO President John Sweeney pleaded the cause of workers' rights to a packed room of students and faculty on March 21 in the Kellogg Center in the International Affairs Building.

Sweeney said the AFL/CIO is leading a new campaign to demand that the World Trade Organization (WTO) build core workers' rights into all new trade accords and that rules of the global market be designed to protect all people.

The event was attended by more than 200 people and was covered by ABC News.

On the global stage, Sweeney said the WTO fosters inequality, proclaiming, "No system that justifies putting 10-year-olds in factories, instead of schools, will ever be legitimate."

Regarding the upcoming vote to admit China into the WTO, Sweeney stated the AFL/CIO's position that "letting China in would be the wrong way to go." He said China has violated every previous trade agreement and said his organization's stance is "less about China than [about] the rules of global markets. If China became part of the WTO, then Thailand , the Philippines and South Korea would have to compete with them."