Stop Job-Killing ‘Fast-Track’ Trade Deal
January 30, 2014
Activists are calling on Congress to say no to fast-track legislation that would take away its ability to negotiate the biggest free-trade agreement since NAFTA – the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A broad coalition of unions, environmental organizations, citizen groups and supporters of domestic manufacturing have launched a national campaign against fast-track and the TPP, and are mobilizing Americans to write letters, make phone calls, tweet and text to stop another bad “free-trade” deal.
The TPP would govern trade between the United States and 12 other Pacific-rim nations: Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
Critics of the deal question what good can come from a trade agreement where negotiations have so far been held in secret. Legislators, unions, environmental and other citizens groups have been excluded from the talks, but more than 600 corporate lobbyists have been inside the discussions from the beginning.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) submitted legislation in January giving Obama authority to negotiate the TPP, leaving Congress only the authority to make an up or down vote on the trade deal.
“Forcing Congress to vote on an agreement this big and complex without knowing any of the details is bad for democracy and bad for the economy,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill. “America and its elected representatives need to know what’s in it before we can move forward.”
What is known about the agreement comes from leaked copies of the TPP, which contain clauses that would enhance corporations’ power to sue governments over regulations that could potentially eat into investors’ profits. These include laws that beef up worker safety, raise the minimum working age and give workers more freedom to collectively bargain.
Vietnam, for example, bans independent trade unions and engages in widespread use of child labor. If the TPP goes into effect, this might never change.
It was also leaked that the TPP would ban ‘Buy America’ policies that prioritize the use of domestically-manufactured goods in taxpayer-financed projects. This could potentially lead to the outlawing of federal and state laws that regulate government spending, such as prevailing wages agreements and bans on sweatshop-produced goods.
“The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
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