After their first look at the actual text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement, union leaders gave the 12-nation treaty an initial thumbs down as being too pro-corporate and not guaranteeing workers’ rights.
The U.S. and the other TPP nations – including several with notoriously bad labor and human rights records, such as Vietnam and Brunei – formally released the text on Nov. 5, triggering a mandated congressional review that will stretch into next year. The review gives workers time – but not much – to mobilize against the TPP. Then, lawmakers will be forced to vote not on the TPP itself, but on legislation to implement it. And fast-track trade authority bars solons from either changing the TPP’s terms or revising implementing legislation President Barack Obama (D) will send to Capitol Hill.
“The threats of this expansive new agreement outweigh its benefits -- for good jobs, for democracy, for affordable medicines, for consumer safety, and for the environment,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP.”
- Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer; photo: 4/20/2015 anti-TPP march/rally; Chris Garlock/Union City
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Communications Workers President Chris Shelton called the TPP a trade deal “negotiated by and for the 1 percent.” “Even a cursory review demonstrates how this trade deal fails working families. It forces U.S. workers to compete with the 65-cent an hour wages of Vietnamese workers and the slave labor employed in Malaysia,” Shelton pointed out.
“Even the Wall Street Journal predicted the deal would cause a massive trade deficit in manufacturing which would result in hundreds of thousands of job losses,” Steelworkers President Leo Gerard noted. Factories have not recovered from the Great Recession and still shed “good, family-supporting jobs at an ever-increasing pace,” he pointed out.
Unions and their allies contend that, like the past 22 years’ worth of other so-called “free trade” pacts, the TPP lacks workers’ rights and would give corporations huge profits and incentives to move high-paying U.S. jobs overseas. Nothing they saw on Nov. 5 alters that.
Mark Gruenberg, PAI Staff Writer