Beliefs and trade union support for trade liberalisation in the US and the UK: the AFL-CIO and the TUC compared

Article

Abstract

This article applies an interpretive approach to behaviour to explain why the United States’ American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has opposed free trade agreements, whereas the British Trade Union Congress (TUC) has endorsed them and why the AFL-CIO shifted its position on trade liberalisation around 1970. The AFL-CIO has opposed FTAs because it views past costs of trade liberalisation as excessive and believes that FTAs do not protect workers enough against surges in imports. The British TUC has accepted FTAs and the enlargement of the EU because it sees no economic alternative to open markets. On a substantive level, the article describes how the US and the British trade union confederations have approached trade liberalisation and FTAs. On an analytical level, the article emphasises the autonomy of individual and group beliefs with respect to structures and with respect to dominant ideas and therefore the need to examine these beliefs when explaining behaviour.

Keywords

constructivism European Union free trade agreements United Kingdom United States trade unions 

Primary sources for content-analysis

AFL-CIO

  1. Donahue, Thomas R. (1993) ‘Statement before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on the North American FTA’ (6 May, 1993).Google Scholar
  2. Sweeney, John (2001) ‘Jordan Free Trade Agreement: Statement of John J. Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO, Washington, DC: Hearing before the Committee on Finance’, United States Senate, One hundred-seventh Congress, First Session (21 March, 2001).Google Scholar
  3. Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy (2003) ‘The US-Chile and the US Singapore Free Trade Agreements’ (28 February, 2003).Google Scholar
  4. AFL-CIO (2003) ‘US – Chile Trade Agreement Rolls Back Progress in Trade Policy and Tramples on Workers’ Rights’ (6 June, 2003).Google Scholar
  5. Lee, Thea M. (AFL-CIO) (2005) ‘Dominican Republic—Central America Free Trade Agreement. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the Committee on Energy and Commerce’, House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session (28 April, 2005).Google Scholar
  6. AFL-CIO (2005). ‘Opposition to the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement’, Resolution 50, submitted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, AFL-CIO Annual Convention.Google Scholar
  7. AFL-CIO (2006) ‘Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on Passage of Oman FTA in House’ (20 July, 2006).Google Scholar
  8. Gibson, Brett (AFL-CIO) (2006) ‘Implementation of the United States-Peru Promotion Agreement Hearing before the Committee on Ways and Means’, US House of Representatives, One Hundred Ninth Congress, Second Session (12 July, 2006).Google Scholar
  9. Samuel, William (Director: Department of Legislation, AFL-CIO) (2007) ‘Legislative Alert’, Letter sent to Congress Representatives in connection with the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement (28 September, 2007).Google Scholar
  10. AFL-CIO (2007) ‘Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on Passage of Peru FTA’ (8 November, 2007).Google Scholar
  11. AFL-CIO (2008) ‘Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement’ (4 July, 2008).Google Scholar
  12. AFL-CIO (2010) ‘Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Korea Trade Deal’ (9 December, 2010).Google Scholar
  13. Lee, Thea M. (AFL-CIO) (2011) ‘US-Korea Free Trade Agreement Hearing before the Committee on Finance’, United States Senate, One hundred twelfth Congress, First session (26 May, 2011).Google Scholar

TUC

  1. TUC Annual Congress (1997–2012). Verbatim Transcripts.Google Scholar

References

  1. Abdelal, Ravi (2009) Capital Rules, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abdelal, Ravi, Craig Parsons and Mark Blyth, eds (2010) Constructing the International Economy, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Acemoglu, Daron, David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon Hanson and Brendan Price (2016) ‘Import Competition and the Great Employment Sag of the 2000s’, Journal of Labor Economics 34(1): 145–95.Google Scholar
  4. Alesina, Alberto, Enrico Spolaore and Romain Wacziarg (2005) ‘Trade, Growth, and the Size of Countries’, Volume 1B in Philippe Aghion and Steven N. Durlauf, eds, Handbook of Economic Growth, 1500–42, New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  5. Balsvik, Ragnhild, Sissel Jensen and Kjell Salvanes (2015) ‘Made in China, Sold in Norway: Local Market Effects of an Import Schock’, Journal of Public Economics 127: 137–44.Google Scholar
  6. Bieler, Andreas and Adam David Morton (2008) ‘The Deficits of Discourse in IPE: Turning Base Metal into Gold’, International Studies Quarterly 52(1): 103–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blyth, Mark (2002) Great Transformations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blyth, Mark (2013) Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brady, David, Martin Seeleib-Kaiser and Jason Beckfield (2007) ‘Economic Globalization and the Welfare State in Affluent Economies, 1978–2001’, American Sociological Review 70(6): 921–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braun, Benjamin (2014) ‘Why Models Matter: The Making and Unmaking of Governmentality in Macroeconomic Discourse’, Journal of Critical Globalization Studies 7: 48–79.Google Scholar
  11. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1971) ‘Foreign Trade and Employment’, in United States International Economic Policy in an Interdependent World. Papers Submitted to the Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy and Published in Conjunction with the Commission’s Report to the President, Washington: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  12. Burfisher, Mary, Sherman Robinson and Karen Thielfelder (2001) ‘The Impact of NAFTA on the United States’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 15(1): 125–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burgoon, Brian (2001) ‘Globalization and Welfare Compensation: Disentangling the Ties that Bind’, International Organization 55(3): 509–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burgoon, Brian and Wade Jacoby (2011) ‘Patch-Work Solidarity: Describing and Explaining US and European Labour Internationalism’, Review of International Political Economy 11(5): 849–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cameron, David R. (1978) ‘The Expansion of the Public Economy: A Comparative Analysis’, American Political Science Review 72(4): 1243–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Carstensen, Martin and Vivien Schmidt (2016) ‘Power through, over and in ideas: conceptualizing ideational power in discursive institutionalism’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(3): 318–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chase, Kerry A. (2003) ‘Economic Interests and Regional Trade Agreements: The Case of NAFTA’, International Organization 57(1): 137–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Checkel, Jeffrey (1998) ‘The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory’, World Politics 50: 324–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chwieroth, Jeffrey (2010) Capital Ideas: The IMF and the Rise of Financial Liberalization, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Cline, William (1997) Trade and Income Distribution, Washington: Institute of International Economics.Google Scholar
  21. Coyle, Diane (2014) GDP: A Brief but Affectionate Story, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Duina, Francesco (2006) The Social Construction of Free Trade, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Ebenstein, Avraham, Ann Harrison, Margaret McMillan and Shannon Phillips (2009) ‘Estimating the Impact of Trade and Off-shoring on American Workers Using the Current Population Surveys’, NBER Working Paper 1517: 1–46.Google Scholar
  24. Edwards, Lawrence and Robert Lawrence (2013) Rising Tide: Is Growth in Emerging Economies Good for the United States, Washington: Peterson Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
  25. Ehrlich, Sean (2007) ‘Access to Protection: Domestic Institutions and Trade Policy in Democracies’, International Organization 61(3): 571–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feldstein, Martin (2008) ‘Resolving the Global Imbalance: The Dollar and the US Savings Rate’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 22(3): 113–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Finnemore, Martha and Kathryn Sikkink (2001) ‘TAKING STOCK: The Constructionist Research Program in International Relations and Comparative Politics’, Annual Review of Political Science 4: 391–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fink, Gary M., ed. (1977) AFL-CIO Executive Council Statements and Reports, 19561975, Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  29. Freeman, Richard (1995a) ‘Are New York Wages set in Beijing?’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 9: 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Freeman, Richard (1995b) ‘The Future for Unions in Decentralized Bargaining Systems: US and UK Unionism in an Era of Crisis’, British Journal of Industrial Relations 33(4): 519–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Freeman, Richard (2007) America Works: The Exceptional US Labor Market, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  32. Freund, Caroline and Çaglar Özden (2008) ‘Trade Policy and Loss Aversion’, American Economic Review 98(4): 1675–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gitelman, Lisa (2013) Raw Data is an Oxymoron, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  34. Hillary, John (2011) ‘European Trade Unions and Free Trade: Between International Solidarity and Perceived Self-Interest’, paper presented at the seminar on Trade Unions, Free Trade, and the Problem of Transnational Solidarity, Center for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Notthingham.Google Scholar
  35. Haskel, Jonathan, Robert Z. Lawrence, Edward E. Leamer, and Matthew J. Slaughter (2012) ‘Globalization and U.S. Wages: Modifying Classic Theory to Explain Recent Facts’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 26(2):119–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hiscox, Michael (1999) ‘The Magic Bullet: The RTAA, Institutional Reform, and Trade Liberalisation’, International Organization 53(4): 669–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hiscox, Michael (2002) ‘Commerce, Coalitions, and Factor Mobility: Evidence from Congressional Votes on Trade Legislation’, American Political Science Review 96(3): 593–608.Google Scholar
  38. Hofhansel, Claus (2001) ‘Germany, Multilateralism, and the Eastern Enlargement of the EU’, Centre for European Studies, Program for the Study of Germany and Europe, Cambridge: Harvard University, Working Paper 01.4.Google Scholar
  39. Holloway, Harry (1979) ‘Interest Groups in the Postpartisan Era: The Political Machine of the AFL-CIO’, Political Science Quarterly 94(1): 117–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Horng, Der-Ching (2003) ‘The Human Rights Clause in the EU’s External Trade and Development Agreements’, European Law Journal 9(5): 677–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hopf, Ted (2010) ‘The Logic of Habit in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations 16(4): 539–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hwang, Wonjae and Hoon Lee (2014) ‘Globalization, Factor Mobility, and Compensation Policies’, International Studies Quarterly 58(1): 92–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Jackson, Patrick Thaddeus and Daniel H. Nexon (2009) ‘Paradigmatic Faults in International Theory’, International Studies Quarterly 53(4): 907–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Jensen, J. B. and L. Kletzer (2005) ‘Tradable Services: Understanding the Scope and Impact of Services Offshoring’, Chapter 3 in Brookings Trade Forum 2005: Offshoring White-Collar Work, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  45. Katzenstein, Peter (1985) Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Keech, William R. and Kyoungsan Pak (1995) ‘Partisanship, Institutions, and Change in American Trade Politics’, Journal of Politics 57(4): 1130–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kirschner, Eli J. (2011) ‘Fast Track Authority and its Implication for Labor Protection in Free Trade Agreements’, Cornell International Law Journal 44: 386–415.Google Scholar
  48. Kletzer, Lori (1998) ‘Job Displacement’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 12(1): 115–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Krugman, Paul (2008) ‘Trade and Wages, Reconsidered’, Brooking Papers on Economic Activity (Spring).Google Scholar
  50. Krugman, Paul and Richard Baldwin (1987) ‘The Persistence of the US Trade Deficit’, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 1: 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Leamer, Edward E. (1995) The Heckscher-Olin Model in Theory and Practice, Princeton Studies in Economy and Finance 77, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Lustig, Nora, Barry Bosworth and Robert Lawrence, eds (1992) North American Free Trade: Assessing the Impact, Washington: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  53. Mansfield, Edward and Helen Milner (1999) ‘The New Wave of Regionalism’, International Organization 53(3): 589–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. March, James and Herbert Simon (1958) Organizations, New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  55. McLaren, John and Shushanik Hakobyan (2010) ‘Looking for Local Labor Market Effects of NAFTA’, NBER Working Papers 16535: 1–48.Google Scholar
  56. Mayda, A. and Dani Rodrik (2005) ‘Why are some People (and Countries) more Protectionist than Others?’, European Economic Review 49(6): 1393–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. McNamara, Kathleen (1999) The Currency of Ideas: Monetary Policy in the European Union, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Midford, Paul (1993) ‘International Trade and Domestic Politics: Improving on Rogowski’s argument of political alignments’, International Organization 47(4): 535–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mitchell, Daniel (1970) ‘Labor and the Tariff Question’, Industrial Relations 1(3): 268–76.Google Scholar
  60. Mitchell, Daniel (1975) ‘Recent Changes in the Labor Content of US International Trade’, Industrial and Labor Relations Review 28(3): 355–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mullen, Andrew (2005) The British Left’s Great Debate on Europe: The Political Economy of the British Left and European Integration, PhD thesis, University of Bradford, UK.Google Scholar
  62. Nivola, Pietro (1986) ‘The New Protectionism: US Trade Policy in Historical Perspective’, Political Science Quarterly 101(4): 577–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Northrup, Cynthia Clark and Elaine C. Prange Turney, eds (1993) Encyclopedia of Tariffs and Trade in US History: The Encyclopedia. Vol. I, Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  64. Ohlin, Bertil (1967) Interregional and International Trade, Harvard Economic Studies 39, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  65. O’Rourke, Kevin and Richard Sinnott (2002) ‘The Determinants of Individual Trade Policy Preferences’, in Susan Collins and Dani Rodrik, eds., Brookings Trade Forum, 157–96, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  66. Rodrik, Dani (2014) ‘When Ideas Trump Interests: Preferences, World Views, and Policy Innovations’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 28(1): 189–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rogowski, Ronald (1987) Commerce and Coalitions: How Trade Affects Domestic Political Alignments, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Rogowsky, Robert and Eric Chyn (2007) ‘US Trade Law and FTAs: A Survey of Labor Requirements’, United States International Trade Commission: Journal of International Commerce and Economics: 1–24, available online at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/journals/trade_law_ftas.pdf (last accessed on 10 January, 2017).
  69. Root, Franklin and Bernard Mennis (1976) ‘How US Multinational Corporations, Unions, and Government view Each Other and the Direction of US Policies’, Journal of International Business Studies 7(1): 17–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rowthorn, Robert and Ken Coutts (2004) ‘De-Industrialization and the Balance of Payments in Advanced Economies’, UNCTAD/OSG/DP/2004/4.Google Scholar
  71. Samuelson, Paul and William D. Nordhaus (2005) Economics, New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  72. Scruggs, Lyle (2007) ‘Welfare State Generosity across Space and Time’, in Jochen Clausen and Nico Siegel, eds, Investigating Welfare State Change: The Dependent Variable Problem in Comparative Analysis, 133–65, Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  73. Scruggs, Lyle, Detlef Jahn and Kati Kuitto (2014) ‘Comparative Welfare Entitlements Dataset 2. Version 2014-03’, University of Connecticut and University of Greifswald.Google Scholar
  74. Seabrooke, Leonard and Duncan Wigan (2015) ‘Powering Ideas through Expertise: Professionals in Global Tax Battles’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(3): 357–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Shoch, James (2000) ‘Contesting Globalization: Organized Labor, NAFTA, and the 1997 and 1998 Fast-Track Fights’, Politics and Society 28(1): 119–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Steinberg, Mark (1998) ‘Tilting the Frame: Considerations on Collective Action Framing from a Discursive Turn’, Theory and Society 27(6): 845–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Stewart, Eugene (1971) ‘Import Competition and Government Relief’, in United States International Economic Policy in an Interdependent World. Papers Submitted to the Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy and Published in Conjunction with the Commission’s Report to the President, Washington: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  78. Stolper, Wolfgang and Paul Samuelson (1941) ‘Protection and Real Wages’, Review of Economic Studies 9(1): 58–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Watson, Matthew (2014) Uneconomic Economics and the Crisis of the Modern World, New York: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Weber, Max (1905/2010) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Widmaier, Wesley (2016) ‘The power of economic ideas – through, over and in – political time: the construction, conversion and crisis of the neoliberal order in the US and UK’, Journal of European Public Policy 23(3): 338–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Widmaier, Wesley W. (2004) ‘The Social Construction of the “Impossible Trinity”: The Intersubjective Bases of Monetary Cooperation’, International Studies Quarterly 48(2): 433–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversidad Carlos III de MadridMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations