Friday, February 27, 2015

Teamsters and allies rally against fast track trade authority for TPP

Teamsters and allies have a message for U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen. 
Teamsters rallied today in Rockville, Md., to urge congressman Chris Van Hollen to stand with Marylanders and all working families to oppose fast track legislation.

They were joined by concerned citizens and environmentalists in Courthouse Square Park near the congressman's office. Van Hollen, a Democrat, has not committed to opposing a bill to fast track secretive trade deals that lower wages and cost jobs.

Thomas Ratliff, President of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C., said fast track is the wrong track:
Fast track will let Congress rubber-stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will lower wages, send jobs overseas, and undermine our food safety.
Our allies at the Sierra Club sent out a press release about the action:
Fast track would allow the executive branch to send already-signed trade agreements to Congress for limited debate, no amendments, and a straight up-or-down vote, thereby limiting the ability of Congress to ensure that trade agreements protect communities and the public. This would include the TPP and any other trade deals going forward.

“Communities across the country are taking action to rebuild their broken food systems from the ground up,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Director of International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “The trade rules in TPP would threaten those achievements. We need to find ways to raise food, environment, and climate standards to their highest levels on terms that are fair to farmers and consumers. But to do that we need to say no to fast track, and yes to democracy and food sovereignty.”

Environmentalists are concerned that fast tracking the TPP would threaten environmental safeguards and encourage corporate attacks on clean air and water protections. Previous fast track bills have failed to address how trade deals should adequately protect the environment.

“Trade policy should include strong and binding environmental provisions that commit to reduce air and water pollution, protect endangered species, ban trade in illegally taken wildlife, and fight climate disruption. It must be legally binding with enforcement provisions, obligating countries and investors to uphold domestic environmental protections and safeguards,” said Stan Boyd, Executive Committee Member of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We call on Congressman Chris Van Hollen to vote against fast track, which rushes trade pacts through Congress without oversight and protections.”
The rally was hosted by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Teamsters, Food and Water Watch, Communication Workers of America, AFSCME and others.