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Teamsters, Global Public Sector Trade Unions Warn Of Consequences Of Trade Policies


(WASHINGTON) – Meeting with global leaders of public sector unions, Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and officials from Public Services International (PSI) discussed the growing concerns about the effects of public service trade policies as part of a public trade policy summit held today at Teamsters headquarters.

“Trade agreements such as TISA, TPP and others will have a detrimental impact on public sector jobs and services in the U.S. and across the world,” Hoffa said. “The Teamsters Union and the other unions represented at this summit oppose trade deals that threaten service sector workers just as we always have for workers who produce goods that families rely on. The Teamsters Union also strongly opposes Fast Track, and that’s a message that we will take to Capitol Hill tomorrow and later this year in a lame duck Congress.”

“The new wave of trade agreements are about far more than trade,” said Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI. “They enshrine the power of corporations in ways only loosely related to trade. They lock in liberalization, promote privatization and restrict governments’ right to regulate. The global financial crisis made clear the catastrophic results of failing to adequately regulate the financial markets. From global warming to the Rana Plaza disaster, up to the Ebola pandemic, our world is confronted with national and global challenges highlighting the tragic consequences of failing to make and enforce decent rules for the benefit of all in our societies.”

“The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) isn’t against trade or trade agreements, but we need to ensure these agreements will not weaken the democratic process, the ability to have shared and growing prosperity for all, and the will of the community, including the voice of the frontline worker,” said Randi Weingarten, AFT President. “This is why they must be negotiated with transparency and knowing both the benefits and costs.

“Education publishing and testing company Pearson, with its track record of prohibiting teachers from talking about its assessments and its low-cost private schools in underdeveloped countries, shows why these agreements must not put profit over public good. Trade agreements should be seen as beneficial to all parties involved but especially for the schools and students who attend them.”

During the summit, officials from PSI presented their view on the shortcomings of free trade agreements and how trade-in-service agreements would have devastating results on public service jobs.

Experts on panels provided an overview and forecast about the results of pending public service trade policies, should they be extended.

“It will be the same for service workers as it is for the manufacturing workers – the bosses get their NAFTA and their CAFTA and the workers get the SHAFTA,” Hoffa said. “And with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) looming, as well as the lesser-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), there is reason for real concern.”

Also, a new special report, “The Really Good Friends of Transnational Corporations Agreement,” by Ellen Gould was released. The objective of the report is to help overcome the secrecy and complexity surrounding the TISA negotiations in order to bring the agreement into the public sphere for democratic debate. The report is available online at: http://ibt.io/gts14

Participants in the summit will be lobbying members of Congress tomorrow, concluding with an open hearing in the U.S. Capitol Visitors’ Center.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. PSI is a global union federation of public sector trade unions representing 20 million working women and men who deliver public services in 152 countries. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and @PSIglobalunion.