Friday, January 31, 2014

Tens of thousands take action against Fast Track today in intercontinental Day of Action

Rallying today against Fast Track in Gaithersburg, Md., outside Rep. John Delaney's office are Teamsters, CWA and UFCW members, the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and Flush the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
(UPDATES second graf with additional information about Teamster rallies.)

Teamsters, techies and tens of thousands of people took action today to oppose a Fast Track bill that would grease the Congressional skids for so-called 'trade deals' like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). More than 50 rallies, teach-ins and news conferences are being held on the North American continent, from Edmonton, Canada, to Mexico City. By mid-afternoon, social media drove more than 12,000 phone calls and hundreds of thousands of emails to the U.S. Congress.

The effort was promoted by a Twitter Thunderclap that reached 5.4 million people, with actor Mark Ruffalo, blogger Cory Doctorow and tech celebrity Tim O'Reilly joining in. Teamsters took their low-tech boots to the ground at rallies throughout the country. Our brothers and sisters at Teamsters Local 639 rallied against Fast Track in the cold today in front of Democratic Rep. John Delaney's office in Gaithersburg, Md., while a huge crowd yelling 'No Fast Track' was reported outside Congressman Joe Crowley's office in Queens. Members of Teamsters Local 232 in Portland, Ore., rallied outside the Smith Center before leafletting and meeting with U.S. representatives. Teamsters rallied from Local 597 Montpelier, Vt., Local 745 in Dallas and Local 769 in Miami. 

Teamsters from Local 223 at an anti-Fast Track rally today in Portland, Ore.
Tens of thousands who couldn't rally called Congress. A staffer for a member of Congress complained his boss was getting an inordinate number of phone calls from people telling him to oppose Fast Track (fortunately, he already does). Tens of thousands more Fast Track opponents sent emails and signed petitions to their representatives in Congress. 
Teamsters Local 200 President Tom Bennett and
Darrick Jordan, Local 200 business agent and
TNBC Central Regional chairman,
calling Congress in Teamster Day of Action
 to Stop Fast Track.

Though there is little news coverage of Fast Track or the TPP, people are clearly waking up to the dangers of so-called 'trade deals' that lower wages, send jobs overseas, empower corporations, despoil the environment, increase violence and weaken food safety. A poll this week showed American voters oppose Fast Track by a 2-to-1 margin.  Republican voters are especially opposed to Fast Track, with 87 percent against it and only 8 percent in favor.

More than 120 organizations that agree on little else are working together for the first time to stop Fast Track, from reddit and Imgur to Ben & Jerry's to the AFL-CIO.  Both right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham and Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa are speaking out against the bill. 

The Wall Street Journal reports today on the momentum gathering against Fast Track: 
A group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean says in 12 hours it gathered nearly 30,000 electronic signatures for its petition asking Ms. Pelosi (D., Calif.) to voice opposition to the trade legislation. Another progressive group, known as Credo Action, said it has 53,117 electronic signatures since its own similar petition launched Thursday.
Delegates from the three Nafta countries met in Mexico City to assess the impact of that 20-year-old trade deal. Released today was a joint declaration by the tri-national group, including labor, women, farmers, environmentalists and human rights advocates. Their conclusion:
Reading fliers at Local 270. 
...the benefits of NAFTA were exaggerated to sell the agreement to the public. The promises made were not fulfilled, on the contrary, we have seen a rise in inequality, impoverishment of the vast majority of the population, loss of employment, job insecurity, environmental degradation, deterioration of social cohesion and increased violence.
We expect to hear more from our brothers and sister Teamsters who are heading out to rallies later today and tomorrow. The success of today's actions is likely to inspire organizers to extend the mobilization against Fast Track. Teamsters have no intention of quitting this fight until it's over!