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Teamsters: Capitol Hill Protest Shows Depth Of Opposition To TPP


There is growing public sentiment against bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A Capitol Hill rally held yesterday afternoon proved that point, as Teamsters joined with several hundred labor members and fair trade advocates to raise concerns about how American workers will be hurt if the agreement is implemented.

The event, organized by the Communications Workers of America, drew lawmakers who spoke out about how the TPP could jeopardize not only U.S. jobs, but the food supply, environment, health and national sovereignty. They said the proposed 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact is a corporate boondoggle that would hurt hard-working Americans.

“This is the biggest and the baddest of the trade deals. This is NAFTA on steroids,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said.  “This is everything that we’ve seen in the past that has cost American jobs and will continue to cost American jobs, and yet, we don’t even know what’s in it.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said this country is facing a moment of reckoning when it comes to approving TPP. “We have to decide as a nation if we are going to rebuild a land of opportunity where anybody who is willing to work hard, anyone is willing to play by the rules can find a good job and support of family,” she said. “Or are we going to become a nation of very few haves and millions of have nots.”

Others took aim at the potential use of fast-track trade authority that would only allow lawmakers to take a quick-up-or-down vote on TPP and other trade deals with limited debate on the agreement and no chance to amend it. They said Congress deserves a chance to be involved in the process.

“When fast track was brought up, we said, ‘Look, we don’t agree to fast track; if anything, we have no idea what the hell is in [the TPP],’” Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) told spectators who endured a rain storm to listen to speakers. “We also ensure there is transparency so … those in the labor movement have a right to see all the documents that the business world sees.”

TPP opponents have a lot to be pleased about. They’ve been able to push off consideration of fast track until at least after the November elections, while negotiations over the TPP itself has seemed to stall and it is now uncertain when a deal will be reached if at all. But there is still more work to be done.

Elected officials should take protests like the one held this week very seriously.