Friday, September 20, 2013

Unions, advocates take a stand against TPP

Demonstrators call out corporate-led TPP during Washington protest.
Scores of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protesters urged trade negotiators this afternoon to stand up for workers and consumers by opposing the trade deal. They chanted and cheered in front of the U.S. Trade Representatives' office in downtown Washington where representatives from the 12 nations involved in TPP discussions were meeting.

Holding signs saying "Bring TPP Out of the Shadows" and "Fast Track: Derailing the Middle Class," union representatives as well as fair trade, health care and environmental advocates each took turns rousing the crowd in an effort to chide officials to end the secrecy revolving around the proposed Pacific Rim trade agreement. They called for the deal to get the full consideration of Congress, as the U.S. Constitution mandates.

Ken Peres, chief economist for the Communications Workers of America, welcomed the negotiators to the nation's capital but said TPP opponents are not going to go quietly:
We want to remind these negotiators -- no justice, no peace. We support trade, but fair trade.
Different speakers led rounds of call-and-response chants that raised the crowd's spirits and volume during the demonstration. They frequently repeated that workers' jobs and wages are at stake if the TPP is implemented:
Working people are under attack. No TPP and no fast track!
The Obama administration and multinational corporations have made it clear they want to push forward with finalizing the TPP as soon as possible. They tout economic gains for employers and employees alike. But the numbers just don’t support those claims. A report released last week by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that even when using the most pro-TPP statistics to determine U.S. economic growth, the trade pact would result in a pay cut for 90 percent of U.S. workers.

Luckily some are sounding the alarm. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa co-authored an op-ed with Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune today warning negotiators about how both fast track and the TPP could harm workers.