Monday, September 17, 2012

Teamsters help fix or nix latest job-killing trade deal

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Rep. Walter Jones, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Jan Schakowskiy, Mike Dolan IBT fair trade lobbyist, Rep. Brad Sherman, Rep. Mike Michaud, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Ken Hall, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Sen. Ron Wyden. Not pictured: Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Gene Green.

It got very little attention in the U.S. press, but the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks are on hold until after year's end (and, we hope, well beyond that).

The Daily Yomiuri reported last week that negotiators are no longer expecting to finish the talks this year:
The United States and eight other nations negotiating an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal have effectively postponed the conclusion of their talks, originally planned for the end of the year.
That may well be because the Teamsters and allies are working together to fix the flawed draft agreement.

The latest round of TPP negotiations was recently held in Leesburg, Va.  That's close to Washington, D.C., to members of Congress who oppose job-killing trade deals and to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters headquarters. Teamsters brought members of Congress together with negotiators at the IBT.

Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall said the union is frustrated with the secrecy surrounding the talks. He told negotiators the union wouldn't support the deal unless the transparency issue is resolved -- and he told them to take that message back to their countries.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, a staunch Teamster friend, told the negotiators that Nafta hemorrhaged our economy and the TPP has very little public support.

Inside U.S. Trade (link not available) reported on the confab:
A group of foreign negotiators here for the 14th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations met with various members of Congress during a Sept. 10 side trip to Washington sponsored by U.S. labor unions and other groups, according to informed sources. 
About 40 negotiators from all eight foreign TPP partners traveled to the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to attend a reception where congressional members shared their views on the TPP, according to sources familiar with the event... 
Negotiators invited to the event were those involved in the talks focusing on investment, financial services, labor and environment, as well as chief negotiators, sources said. Chief negotiators from Australia, Chile and Malaysia registered to attend the event, an informed source said... 
The idea for the event originated with Teamsters and other groups that viewed the proximity of the talks to Washington as a good opportunity for foreign negotiators to interact with congressional members, according to one of the organizers of the event.
Democrats and Republicans criticize the talks because they're secret. Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have both introduced legislation to require or encourage the texts of the deal to be made public.

The event was attended by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), John Conyers (D-MI), Jan Schakowsky( D-IL), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gene Green (D-TX), Pete Stark (D-CA), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Walter Jones (R-NC)