Free Trade Fact of the Day

Conn Carroll /

On Monday, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney again tried to justify his reflexive protectionist opposition to free trade with Colombia on the grounds that there was too much violence against unionists in the country. CATO’s Juan Carlos Hidalgo flags a Boston Globe op-ed exposing Sweeney’s lies:

The Democrats also say they oppose the agreement because of the assassination of unionists in Colombia. It is a powerful argument, except for this: While the murder of even one union organizer is deplorable, the numbers being used are so misleading that they should not be cited in opposing the agreement.

All sides agree that the killings are dramatically down, and no one accuses the government of orchestrating them. By the unions’ own count, the killings dropped from a high of 275 in 1996 to 39 last year. … The assumption by the Democrats is that all were killed for union organizing. … The number of convictions now being won in the union’s own cases reveals that perhaps one-fifth, and almost certainly less than half, of the killings had to do with unionism. … The killings, in other words, are isolated and not part of a campaign against unionizing.