On Tuesday, November 13th, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis co-hosted a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy at the Department of Labor. They were joined by LAC chairman and International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), Thomas Buffenbarger. Members in attendance included Clayola Brown, National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Edwin Hill, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Gregory Junemann, President of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, and Lee Moak, President of the International Air Line Pilots Association.
LAC Chairman Buffenbarger began the meeting by welcoming the committee members and outlining areas of interest. Secretary Solis followed and delivered remarks regarding the United States Department of Labor’s commitments to support the creation of good-paying jobs for American workers, enforce United States labor laws, and maintain an open dialogue with labor unions and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
Ambassador Kirk thanked the members for their service and congratulated Chairman Buffenbarger on being re-elected as LAC chair. Ambassador Kirk subsequently discussed the importance of having a balanced trade policy that helps American small businesses, farmers, and ranchers access new markets while maintaining core trade values. He went on to provide updates on the Obama Administration’s trade agenda, and touched on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the success of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), the continuing effort to ensure Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the exploratory talks of a potential trade agreement with the European Union.
Committee members noted the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to continue engagement with labor unions, and discussed the ongoing TPP negotiations, the enforcement of labor laws, and the possibility of adding labor unions to the industry trade advisory committees.
The LAC is co-administered by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Labor. The committee provides advice and recommendations on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, including operation of trade agreements. This was the 7th meeting that Ambassador Kirk attended.