by Clyde Weiss | April 30, 2015
Union members and allies raised their voices in loud protest Thursday to oppose so-called “fast track” authority to pass a multi-nation trade agreement that would ship good-paying American jobs to Asia, Central America and other low-wage regions, pushing down wages of U.S. workers.
“We’re going to stop fast track in its tracks and then we’re going to make sure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and every other trade deal, is in the open, so our elected representatives can make them good trade deals,” said AFL-CIO Sec. Treas. Elizabeth Shuler, who officiated at the rally in the lobby of the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC.
“We say no to fast track, we say yes to fair trade,” declared Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America. “We’re tired of the race to the bottom, we’re tired of an $11 trillion trade deficit in the United States. That deficit is Baltimore, it’s St. Louis, it’s my old neighborhood in Philadelphia, it’s every city in America.
Cohen and other labor leaders invoked May Day, International Workers’ Day, and they were joined by allies from immigrant rights groups who said the trade deal is bad for workers in other countries as well. Previous fast-tracked trade deals have pushed Central American farmers off their land, forcing them to migrate north to find jobs.
The union officials, and members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have complained about the secretive nature of the fast-track process, which allows trade negotiations to be conducted behind closed doors, preventing scrutiny by the public and meaningful input by Congress.
The bill authorizing the fast-track process was approved recently by the Senate Finance Committee. Lawmakers in both houses are expected to vote on it in May, and both Shuler and Cohen noted that we are making progress in convincing legislators on both sides of the aisle to vote against fast track.
The 12 countries that comprise the agreement make up 40 percent of the world’s economy. They are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
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