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March 2014

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Saying No to Fast-Track

It's the biggest trade agreement you've never heard of. The wide-ranging Tran-Pacific Partnership would govern trade between the United States, Canada and 11 other Pacific-rim nations, affecting not only millions of jobs worldwide, but the future of workers' rights here and abroad.

The problem: the fine print of the TPP remains a secret. Lawmakers and citizens are being kept in the dark about the details, while more than 600 corporate lobbyists have been inside the discussions from the beginning.

What we do know comes from leaked documents. And they paint a picture, not of a free trade agreement, but a series of pro-corporate regulations that would enhance investors' ability to sue national and local governments over regulations in areas like food and workplace safety, while banning policies like "Buy American" that prioritize the use of domestically manufactured goods in taxpayer-financed projects.

In essence, the TPP, like NAFTA, takes power out of the hands of average citizens and their elected representatives and hands it over to global multinational corporations.

Now TPP supporters want to give President Obama fast-track authority, leaving Congress only the authority to take an up or down vote on the trade deal.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a TPP backer, is also pushing members of parliament to sign off on Canada's biggest trade agreement in decades, while remaining tightlipped on the details.

Forcing a vote on an agreement this big and complex without knowing any of the details is bad for democracy and bad for the economy.

Luckily we're seeing some movement against the rush to fast-track, including from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said he will vote no on fast-track authorization.

But we need to bring even more pressure. I urge our U.S. members to contact their member of Congress and our Canadian members to contact their member of Parliament. Upholding transparency and national sovereignty should have full bipartisan support.


Also: Hill: Collective Bargaining is the Answer Read Hill's Column

Salvatore J. Chilia

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer