Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teamsters tell Ore. lawmakers: TPP is 'a big, bad secret'

Brother Mark McPherson, testifying today in  Oregon against the TPP. 
A Teamster organizer is telling an Oregon House committee today about the union's grave concerns with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. He said the Teamsters are concerned that it's being negotiated in secret and that it will throw dairy employees out of work.

Mark McPherson, an organizer with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Joint Council 37, is speaking before the House Committee on Agriculture and National Resources today. Brother McPherson is telling lawmakers that TPP will be worse for U.S. workers than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) approved 20 years ago.

McPherson is sounding the alarm on several fronts. He explains how the TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors. He talks about how it will destroy workers' rights. Most of his comments focus on how it will adversely affect the dairy industry in North America, including the 600 workers employed at eight different dairy facilities in Oregon:
...the pending TPP trade agreement will have tremendous impact on where and how dairy products are produced and processed both here in Oregon, and throughout the United States.  We are concerned about sanitary standards and market access – in short, concerned that the agreement will be unhealthy and will kill U.S. jobs in the dairy industry. Many of us may not know much about New Zealand, which is one of the twelve countries in negotiations, but it is my understanding that New Zealand is to milk what Saudi Arabia is to oil.  New Zealand has a monopolistic dairy sector wherein essentially one company, Fonterra, has evolved only several degrees from a state-owned entity. New U.S. market access for New Zealand would be especially damaging not only to Teamsters, but to Oregon dairy farmers as well.
McPherson details how the Teamsters have asked the U.S. Trade Representative and Congress to open the TPP process so the public can comment on how it wold impact the dairy industry. They haven't. He also explains how the TPP is following in the footsteps of NAFTA:
Why should we believe that this one will be any different?
I think we already have the answer. I think that the answer is that it won’t be. That’s why, although this agreement will impact all of us in virtually every aspect of our lives – including the milk we pour into our cereal every morning – we haven’t been able to see it. It’s a big, bad secret. We know the drill. After working on a multi-volume document for over 3 years – it will be shoved in front of Congress for a rushed, take it or leave it vote – and we’ll be told it has to pass or the world will end.
In closing, McPherson calls on Oregon lawmakers to get involved by speaking to federal elected officials about the TPP's secret negotiation process. He urges them to tell U.S. policymakers to take dairy off the table. Let's follow his lead and tell lawmakers to stop messing with dairy!