LANSING — The House Committee on Commerce and Trade took up House Resolution 261 today, which would urge a bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China. State Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) proposed an amendment that would have better guaranteed worker protections under the resolution; however, Republicans on the committee rejected his amendment.

“Far too often, American workers have been harmed by unfair trade deals,” Rep. Greimel said. “This amendment would have ensured that any free trade agreement includes strong, binding and enforceable labor standards, so that it doesn’t exploit workers and doesn’t destroy good-paying American jobs.”

HR 261 notes that there already exists a mutually beneficial trade relationship between the U.S. and the Republic of China. It declares a free trade agreement between the two countries will increase Michigan’s exports to Taiwan, and in doing so, create bilateral investment and grow technical collaboration. Rep. Greimel’s amendment would have added language to the resolution to ensure American workers are not unfairly harmed by this trade agreement, that enforceable labor standards and protections are required for American workers as part of any trade deal, and that special considerations for big corporations are excluded.

“While Michigan’s economy could certainly gain from expanded trade opportunities, we cannot rush to an agreement at the expense of working families,” said state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Democratic vice chair of the committee. “Without the guarantees the amendment would have provided, not only is there the potential for companies not adhering to universal workplace standards to have an advantage over companies here at home, but it puts innocent people in jeopardy. I was proud to support this amendment, and without its adoption I could not in good conscience support the resolution, which could put the livelihoods and safety of Michigan’s working people at risk.”