Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Millions (including 67 Teamster affiliates) tell Sen. Wyden to say 'no' to Fast Track

Congress should not rubber stamp trade deals negotiated in secret, a key U.S. senator was told today in a letter signed by 600 organizations (including 67 Teamsters affiliates and the IBT, of course) representing tens of millions of Americans.

Leaked documents from ongoing secret trade talks show how these deals would hurt American workers. They are designed to make it easier for multinational corporations to ship job overseas and to cut wages here in the United States. They are about corporate profit, not about worker prosperity.

Negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are talking about changing labor rights, energy regulation, medicine pricing, copyright law, food safety and government procurement. The TTIP in particular is more about standardizing government regulations than it is about trade.

All the other bad deals, like NAFTA and CAFTA, needed fast-track authority to win Congressional approval. TPP and TTIP won't pass Congress without it. 

Someone actually told Sen. Elizabeth Warren that the deals would never pass if people knew what was in them. Last year, she said,
I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.
Sen. Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which gives him a lot of clout in moving trade deals through Congress. The 600 organizations wrote to him saying they oppose a bill before his committee (“The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act,” S. 1900) that would once again give fast-track authority to Congress. The letter points out the bill gives the president the right to negotiate deals with whatever country he wants. It also lets him sign the bill before Congress has even seen it.

The letter points out that Congress should have a role in selecting appropriate trade partners -- unlike, say, Vietnam, which tolerates child labor, and Brunei, which stones people to death for being gay. Both those countries are part of the TPP talks.

The letter also says Congress needs to vet every word of the TPP and the TTIP for their impact on American families and eliminate every special deal inserted by corporate lobbyists.

Kudos to all these groups, especially to the xx Teamster affiliates that signed on. The last thing we need is for politicians to fast-track trade deals through Congress that lets them build in secret provisions that help their campaign contributors but hurt working- and middle class families.

Teamsters Joint Council 10
Teamsters Joint Council 13
Teamsters Joint Council 16
Teamsters Joint Council 25
Teamsters Joint Council 28
Teamsters Joint Council 3
Teamsters Joint Council 37
Teamsters Joint Council 39
Teamsters Joint Council 42
Teamsters Joint Council 55
Teamsters Joint Council 56
Teamsters Joint Council 58
Teamsters Joint Council 7
Teamsters Joint Council 73
Teamsters Joint Council 80
Teamsters Local 100
Teamsters Local 102
Teamsters Local 117
Teamsters Local 118
Teamsters Local 1199
Teamsters Local 150
Teamsters Local 170
Teamsters Local 179
Teamsters Local 190
Teamsters Local 2011
Teamsters Local 245
Teamsters Local 26
Teamsters Local 29
Teamsters Local 294
Teamsters Local 317
Teamsters Local 324
Teamsters Local 325
Teamsters Local 344
Teamsters Local 38
Teamsters Local 414
Teamsters Local 455
Teamsters Local 480
Teamsters Local 495
Teamsters Local 522
Teamsters Local 572
Teamsters Local 577
Teamsters Local 585
Teamsters Local 618
Teamsters Local 623
Teamsters Local 631
Teamsters Local 637
Teamsters Local 653
Teamsters Local 657
Teamsters Local 662
Teamsters Local 673
Teamsters Local 697
Teamsters Local 703
Teamsters Local 716
Teamsters Local 745
Teamsters Local 752
Teamsters Local 769
Teamsters Local 777
Teamsters Local 79
Teamsters Local 830
Teamsters Local 838
Teamsters Local 890
Teamsters Local 988
Teamsters Local 997
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
IBT - Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen - Texas State Legislative Board
PA Conference of Teamsters