Shafted: Free Trade and America’s Working Poor

Christine Ahn | 09.01.2003

Edited by Christine Ahn, With a Foreword by Dennis Kucinich


NAFTA. The WTO. Trade agreements are supposed to benefit us all. Instead, in the decade since they’ve been in effect, life has become much worse for millions of working Americans. In Shafted, working people-family farmers and farmworkers, fishermen and seamstresses-describe the ruin free trade has brought to them, their families, and their towns. These aren’t theorists; these are the voices of experience. And they’re telling us, clearly and eloquently, that it’s time to stop the madness that enriches a few corporations at the cost of justice, human rights, community, family, and the dignity of work and of workers.

Paperback: 112 pages, ISBN 0935028927

$10.00Add to cart

Praise for Shafted

“A moving testimony to the damage free trade wreaks on ordinary Americans. The people have spoken. Will the powerful deign to listen?”

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— Barbara Ehrenreich, author, Nickel and Dimed

“Before our politicians sign one more disastrous deal, they should all be tied down and forced to read this extraordinary and important book.”

— Naomi Klein, author, No Logo

“Shafted is a first-person dissection of America’s trade policies. A trade policy crafted by the rich for the rich has incalculable effects on all. The poor, forgotten, and dislocated are not being heard, yet the ease with which corporations and governments ignore such suffering is a luxury even the rich cannot afford. It is imperative that we listen well, for the cost of indifference will never stop growing until these inequities are addressed and justice trumps cash as the motivating factor for economic development.”

— Paul Hawken, author, Ecology of Commerce

“Today in the name of free trade we are losing some of our most important freedoms. This book shows how farmers, workers, and consumers are being trapped by an unjust system and how to do something about it.”

— Eric Schlosser, author, Fast Food Nation

“This important book gives voice to those invisible workers often missing in the free trade debate. For them the only thing free about free trade is the free-fall in their standard of living. These voices are dramatic testimony about the challenges that globalization poses, and make a case for changing the terms of globalization so that its gains are far more widely distributed. Thanks, Food First, for a volume that lifts the voices of our nation’s working poor and shines light on a problem too many policy makers would rather ignore.”

— Julianne Malveaux, economist and author

“After a decade of footing the bill for NAFTA’s obscene disasters, frontline experts come to Congress mad as hornets, straight from the fields, factories, and fishing boats. But they don’t stop with sharing the blinding hunger, gnawing poverty, and spirit-killing wounds workers suffer thanks to free trade. Instead folks press on with concrete, practical steps for triaging the wounded and righting corporate wrongs. Thank you Christine Ahn and Food First for assembling some of our favorite fighters to show our elected officials how to better govern!”

— Miriam Ching Louie, author, Sweatshop Warriors

“Ten years have passed since the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. It’s about time this free trade regime was put on trial. Now, thanks to Food First, we have a line-up of witnesses who’ve experienced first hand the fall-out of free trade. They reveal how free trade enshrines corporate rights over basic human rights. These voices must be heard and a corresponding verdict rendered.”

— Tony Clarke, Director, Polaris Institute; co-author, Global Showdown

“All our lives are shaped by free trade policies. Crisis of overproduction and resource depletion; decimation of small farmers by transnational agribusiness; immigration of workers to U.S. jobs that migrate toward cheaper labor overseas: Shafted strikingly reveals the human costs and bitter ironies of our current trade policies.”

— Linda Burnham, Executive Director, Women of Color Resource Center

“The rights of the men and women who labor in our fields and orchards must be upheld by trade laws that treat them fairly, give them a voice in their working conditions, and let them maintain decent living conditions for themselves and their families. Shafted is important because it sheds light on the darker side of current trade agreements. It will help the American public understand that when we do negotiate more treaties, we need to ensure that they are fair, just, and equitable for all American workers.”

— Congressman George Miller (D-CA)

“Free trade doesn’t just benefit the multinational corporations. It inflicts real harm to people’s lives and devastating changes to families and communities across America and the world. Here are the stories of those who were its first casualties and who later became the living proof of how a struggle for justice and democracy transforms us. In their resilience, vision, and courage, we find strength, clarity, and urgency to bring about another world.”

— Helen S. Kim, Asian Immigrant Women Advocates and Building Movement Project

“This important book underscores the need for a new paradigm for negotiating international trade agreements. Under the current system, trade agreements merely send capital off in search of the lowest wage platforms. Future agreements must respect the dignity of people and lift them up.”

— Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)

“Food First has done an extraordinary job in publishing the testimony of working Americans about the impact of free trade on America’s working poor and the environment. This is powerful stuff.”

— Pablo Eisenberg, Georgetown Public Policy Institute

“Here’s a book that finally brings home to America the harsh realities of free trade on the lives of America’s working people, and gives the lie to those cynical claims that globalization helps the poor, anywhere on earth. Americans were supposed to be the leading beneficiaries of neoliberalism, but as usual it’s only elite corporations that have gained, while the environment and the poor are sacrificed. This is must reading for anyone who wants the full story.”

— Jerry Mander, President, International Forum on Globalization

Download the Table of Contents.

Download the Foreword by Dennis Kucinich.

Download the Preface by Christine Ahn.

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