Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teamsters make case against bad trade deals to top Democratic senators

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa discusses trade with Sen. Ron Wyden.

Teamsters told key senators today that secret 'trade' deals like TPP and TISA threaten government workers' jobs by opening them up to irreversible privatization by multinationals.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said health, education and law enforcement jobs are at risk because multinational corporations with a profit motive will lower wages and labor standards.
Hoffa and the Teamsters were joined by other affiliates of Public Services International during a lobbying day on Capitol Hill. They met with most Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee, including Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

According to Inside U.S. Trade,
Teamsters President James Hoffa said a big focus for his union is to stop fast-track legislation, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) -- because if it fails to pass, it will stop all trade agreements currently under negotiation. 
Preventing fast-track renewal, he said, is the "silver bullet" that will kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). This is because trading partners would be unwilling to give the U.S. the concessions necessary to make a deal without assurance that it could not be changed by Congress, he argued. 
Hoffa signaled that it is difficult to make the case to members of Congress that fast-track abrogates their authority on trade by placing much of the authority on trade with the administration. He said members say they do not want to do that, but somehow do not connect that to the fact that this is what fast-track would accomplish. 
The lobbying day followed a press conference and a daylong summit on the devastating impact of so-called trade agreements on public service jobs. Public Services International issued a report (click on this link: describing, for example, FedEx lobbying for TISA to weaken protections for national post offices.

Politico reported on the press conference:
Teamsters President James Hoffa is becoming increasingly worried that Congress will pass a trade promotion authority bill during its upcoming lame duck session. “The danger is, once the elections are over then they go into a smoke-filled room and pass an agreement which gives the president fast track,” Hoffa said ... Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden ... is working on his own alternate “smart track” version of a TPA bill.
Tomio Ishihara, the President of the Japanese public sector union ZENNORIN offered words of wisdom for summit attendees:
I believe that in order to roll back mega-trade agreements like the TPP and TISA that threatens our societies, we need to return to the basics of citizens' participation in politics. Labor unions must work to reinvigorate themselves. Unions must join hands with people from all parts of society -- workers, students, academics, journalists, women, miniority groups, NGOs and non-profits to build a New Solidarity. Unless we do so and fight back against this threatening tide, we will be headed for a catastrophe.