The Associated Press is reporting that the Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government-funded studies that could hinder the passage of CAFTA -- the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The studies had concluded that several of the countries involved in the trade negotiations have poor working conditions and have failed to protect workers' rights. The studies' conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant a free-trade deal with the United States. The studies were conducted by an outside contractor -- the International Labor Rights Fund. According to the AP, the Labor Department instructed the contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it couldn't discuss the studies with outsiders. The Labor Department said such moves were taken because the agency had concluded the contractor had "failed to meet the academic rigor expected."Stop CAFTA by calling your rep. In California, Lofgren, Eshoo and Davis are on the fence.
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