(WASHINGTON) – An article in today’s New York Times details how corporate leaders met last year with European officials on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) months before trade negotiations officially began.
The discovery, based on internal documents obtained by the newspaper, is just the latest example of secret meetings involving big business interests and government authorities that completely leave workers and other stakeholders out of the loop. A similar disregard for public involvement is taking place now as part of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The following is a statement by International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
“It is outrageous that corporations are being allowed to set the agenda for the TTIP, the TPP or any trade deal. For two decades, the interests of working people, both here and abroad, have been cast aside in favor of the big business lobby. The result is lost jobs, lower wages and fewer workplace protections.
“The U.S. is currently in the end stages of negotiating the TPP, a deal that would be the largest trade agreement to date and threatens to not only lower the bar on how workers are treated, but the safety of food and other products brought into the U.S. For years, the public and even members of Congress have been kept in the dark about what the wide-reaching Pacific Rim agreement contains – while there is ample evidence that the business lobby has been included in every step of the process. That will likely remain the case if lawmakers approve fast-track authority, which limits Congress to taking a quick up-or-down vote on trade deals without the ability to amend the agreement.
“Workers face challenging times, but Congress can help secure their future if they just allow a more open process for considering trade bills. Lawmakers must ensure that they fulfill their constitutionally-mandated review of pacts like the TPP and not just punt their responsibilities. Their constituents, the working people of this country, deserve that.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.