Protests erupted around the globe over the weekend in advance of the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. Why the worldwide uproar? Because the TPP is bad for workers not only in the U.S., but for those in 10 other countries whose governments are currently taking part in super-secret trade negotiations.
The TPP would ease trade restrictions between participating nations while lining the pockets of company executives and shareholders. It also would result in lower wages and fewer workplace protections. Activists in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Peru joined Americans in raising awareness in their home countries about this big businesses boondoggle. The secret TPP discussions are set to begin Wednesday in Lima, Peru.
Back in the U.S., supporters argue that a TPP deal would increase trade opportunities with TPP member nations and therefore lead to more U.S. jobs. A much more likely result, however, is jobs moving overseas where impoverished workers will earn a fraction of what those earning fair wages in the U.S. receive.
Mark Weisbrot, a co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote in a piece published in McClatchy-Tribune newspapers Saturday that American workers have been sold this bill of goods before.
When our government tells us such an agreement will create jobs in the United States, they are saying that the agreement will increase our exports faster than imports.
So, for the TPP, they are saying that we will increase our exports to Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and now possibly Japan faster than our imports from these countries. That is unlikely.
We were promised the same thing with NAFTA two decades ago, but it didn't work out that way at all.
Author Michele Nash-Hoff also sounds the alarm about TPP for U.S. laborers, saying in a Huffington Post piece that the trade agreement could do away with an 80-year-old law that gives preferential treatment to American producers in the awarding of federal contracts.
The TPP treaty would exacerbate our trade deficit problem and make it even harder for American manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace. Instead of weakening "Buy American" requirements through additional trade agreements such as TPP, we need to strengthen the requirements.
This drastic curtailment of "Buy American" procurement provisions is another reason why we must make sure Congress rejects any fast-track authority the Obama administration seeks to invoke when it comes time to get final congressional approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
In a statement, Teamsters Canada expressed concern about what the deal could mean for the country’s dairy supply management system.
We respectfully remind the head of the Canadian delegation, Kirsten Hillman, and Trade Minister Ed Fast that Canada has joined several trade pacts, including the NAFTA, and maintained supply management. Like the dairy farmers and processors with whom we work, Teamsters Canada expects the government will defend the stability of the Canadian dairy industry, which supports over 200,000 good middle class Canadian jobs, in these TPP talks.
Ultimately, Congress will have to approve any TPP deal, so now is the time to start contacting your elected representatives and telling them that TPP is a step in the wrong direction. It’s bad for our nation’s workers. It's bad for America.