Thursday, June 6, 2013

TPP raises worries about race to the bottom for workers

There are lots of reasons for Americans to be wary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Negotiations are being conducted in secret. The deal could also let big business make an end run around U.S. worker protections and environmental rules and threaten dairy farmers' livelihood.

But the potential trade pact is no prize for those living in developing nations either. While it could end up creating new employment opportunities, these are jobs no one should want. They will likely only go to the most desperate nations willing to accept the worst pay and conditions for their people, according to several guests appearing on the "Democracy Now" program today.

Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, said the TPP does little to increase global trade opportunities. Instead all it does is allow corporations to further take advantage of workers:
Globalization ... has caused a race to the bottom where the world's biggest corporations really play a game of arbitrage, and they are pitting developing nations against one another to see who can provide the lowest wages, the weakest workers' rights regime, and the fewest unions. And the winner is really the loser because they have workers putting in a hard days work with their lives at risk, and definitely not raising their standards of living.
Jim Schultz, executive director of the Democracy Center, said the entire deal is a sham that further empowers big business:
What is at stake is democracy. If you are looking for the protection of your environment, watch out.
While the results are bad enough for the countries who land these poverty-level jobs, it does create a spill-over effect for workers in other nations, Drake said. It gives companies elsewhere leverage to negotiate deals that benefit their bottom lines at the expense of their employees.

And while TPP supporters tout the deal as one that could benefit U.S. trade, that means very little for average Americans, Drake added:
Our past trade agreements starting with NAFTA and going on down the line have basically been big packages that benefit the one percent and if anyone else benefits, its really is only by accident and not by design.
Check out the video below to get a fuller picture on why workers need to better understand the TPP.