As the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees will soon vote to allow the administration to fast track a bad international trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors, AFGE activists on Monday joined hundreds of activists from other organizations to make it clear that we will not let this happen without a fight.
“No TPP, No Fast Track, Working People under Attack! No TPP, No Fast Track. Good Paying Jobs under Attack!” chanted the activists gathering in front of the AFL-CIO before marching to the U.S. Trade Representatives’ office a few blocks away.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive international trade agreement being negotiated in utmost secrecy among U.S. officials, corporations, and 11 other countries in Asia and Latin America. The agreement, covering 40% of the world’s economy, will enormously enrich international corporations but devastate workers, food safety, the environment, U.S. laws, and more.
“Open debate is how to turn a bad trade deal into a good trade deal… but Wall Street doesn’t want good trade. They want their trade. They want their rules. They want their profits. They want Fast Track so they can push another bad corporate bill through,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Also speaking at the rally were Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, CWA President Larry Cohen, and American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein.
Why You As a Government Employee Need to Fight Tooth and Nail against TPP
Because your job could be privatized under this trade deal. According to leaked documents, government functions would be pushed toward privatization under TPP. Even if the government doesn’t want to do it, private businesses could go to an international court and force the government to hand over control of its functions to them. Congress would have no control over it.
What’s worse is that the administration is seeking authority to ‘fast track’ this horrendous trade deal.
This means the administration and corporations can negotiate TPP without input from Congress and the American people who will be affected. Congress can either approve the deal or vote it down completely. It cannot make any changes no matter how problematic some provisions might be.
Besides forcing privatization on government functions, TPP would cause devastation on many fronts. It would, for example, restrict certain “buy local” and Buy American initiatives. It would create new patent extensions for drug companies that would raise medicine prices for us all. It would allow foreign food companies to import food to the U.S. without following the U.S. food and safety standards.
It would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws and policies and require American taxpayers to fork over millions or billions of dollars in damages. This provision, called Investor-State Dispute Settlement, is increasingly common in trade agreements and its use is on the rise. For example, a French company sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage. Philip Morris is using the provision to stop Uruguay’s new tobacco regulations intended to cut smoking rates. Another provision would provide incentives for the U.S. to send jobs to low-wage countries, many of which have a long track record of labor and human rights violations.
As Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach writes, the TPP “will embody the most florid dreams of the 1 Percent – grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation.”
Anyone who doubts this need only look at NAFTA(the North America Free Trade Agreement), which was sold to Americans as a job-creating, economy-stimulating trade deal. But 20 years later, the trade agreement has cost the United States more than 1 million jobs due to imports from Canada and Mexico and the relocation of factories to those countries. Despite a 239% rise in food imports under NAFTA, the average food price in the U.S. went up 67% – exactly the opposite of what was promised during the debate. Wages have been stagnant. Only the rich and big corporations got richer.
TPP is NAFTA on steroids. It’s modeled after NAFTA but on a much larger scale and will cause much more damage.
AFGE stands with the entire labor movement against this trade deal and fast-track authority.