Thursday, April 11, 2013

Teamsters BAs tell members of Congress NOT to rubberstamp the next trade deal

IBT legislative rep. Mike Dolan, BA Mark Bell, Rep. William Enyart of Illinois,
BA Mark Archer.
Dozens of Teamster business agents visited members of Congress today to tell them they should vet every word of the Trans-Pacific treaty for its impact on American families. (They picked a good day to do it, too; it's a pleasant walk through the cherry blossoms from the IBT to the Capitol.)

California BAs Russ Butler, Stacy Alvelais,
Dolan, and Liliana Cortez
on their way to meet the CA delegation!
If you haven't heard of the Trans-Pacific treaty, or TPP, well, that's intentional. It's a deal among a dozen or so Pacific Rim nations that's being negotiated in complete secrecy -- except for corporate lobbyists who have access to it. The 17th round of negotiations will start in May in Lima, Peru. Negotiators hope that the 18th round, some time late this summer, will be the last.

The BAs are in Washington this week for basic training (which, of course, no one does better than the Teamsters). Part of that training involves advocating for working families at the national level. 

The Teamsters are all for open markets -- so long as those open markets don't mean trading good American jobs for lost jobs and lower wages, or high-quality American products for food that poisons our families. Our business agents are reminding their congressional representatives that it's up to them to make sure every aspect of this market-opening deal benefits working families -- and not big corporations.

There's a reason to be concerned that members of Congress won't be looking closely enough at the TPP. They're being asked to approve Fast Track authority, probably this summer. Fast Track means they'd vote up or down on the TPP with limited debate and no amendments. It's an undemocratic procedure that's only been used 14 times. And it's unconstitutional, since Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says "The Congress shall have Power ... To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations."

The Teamsters want to return trade policymaking to the Congress with:
  • mandatory negotiating objectives;
  • oversight by all committees with jurisdiction over the contents of trade deals;
  • congressional votes approving the text of trade deals before the president can sign them.
The Teamsters are not against trade. We're just against unfair trade.

And we're proud of our business agents, too!