Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Union members lead Minnesota anti-TPP march

Union members took to the street in Minneapolis to protest the TPP.
About 200 Teamsters and other union members  marched against the  corporate-dominated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a protest in downtown Minneapolis  yesterday afternoon. They targeted companies involved in negotiations over the secret Pacific Rim trade pact and said the deal’s details should be public.

Demonstrators gathered outside offices of telecom giant Verizon as well as U.S. Bank. They pointed red foam fingers at the businesses to question why they have access to TPP documents when the rest of the nation – including members of Congress – do not. They also heard about why the proposed agreement is a bad deal for U.S. workers from Rep. Keith Ellison, union leaders and activists.
Several speakers demanded that workers have a seat at the table so they can share their concerns about TPP.  And the crowd, engaging in chants, agreed:
Secrets, secrets are no fun! TPP hurts everyone!
The march, organized by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), was especially timely as TPP supporters are lobbying Congress to rubber stamp the secret deal through “fast track authority.” Protesters railed against fast track, which would allow Congress to take a quick up-or-down vote on the TPP and for which, debate would be  limited  and amendments would be barred. Fast track would keep the deal shrouded in secrecy from the public until it is too late. By approving fast track, Congress would be abrogating its constitutional requirement to review all trade deals before they are approved. CWA President Larry Cohen said we can’t allow that to happen:
We need fair trade, not fast track. We have to say this to the White House, loud and clear.
No one disagrees that, in an increasingly global economy, America should expand its trade with other countries so we can create jobs for American workers and maintain our global leadership. What we disagree on are the terms of trade, which need to be fair and promote a living wage for workers. It is something U.S. trade representatives should focus on as they resume TPP trade negotiations in Brunei later this week.