For Workers, Free Trade Isn’t Fair


Corporate America has taken every opportunity it can to stress the importance of so-called “free” trade.

Big business leaders have been intimately involved in trade negotiations. They’ve received some support on Capitol Hill and at the White House. And now they are trying to force deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) down the public’s throat even though we don’t want it.

The Teamsters are aggressively countering their offensive, aligning with other unions and fair trade allies to let lawmakers know that the TPP and other proposed agreements like the Transatlantic Trade Improvement Partnership (TTIP), involving the U.S. and Europe, must be brought out into the open and looked at closely. American workers deserve to have such deals fully vetted.

The first step in doing so is to stop Congress from pushing through fast track, a trade promotion vehicle used when the government knows it can’t get a deal approved by lawmakers any other way. Fast track doesn’t allow trade agreements to be amended on Capitol Hill and limits debate. Essentially, the deals sail through with the public, and often Congress, knowing little-to-nothing about them!

And that is a tragedy, considering the realities of modern trade agreements. They’ve caused millions upon millions of U.S. jobs to be shipped overseas. They’ve reduced the salaries of many remaining jobs and made it more difficult for hardworking Americans to live a middle-class lifestyle. They’ve left communities from coast-to-coast in ruins. And they’ve allowed unsafe food and products to be shipped to our shores.

The good news is there are Democrats and Republicans in Washington who have seen the light and realize fast track is the wrong track for Americans. They’ve let congressional leaders and the administration know about their concerns and how they fear it could hurt their constituents.

As Congress moves forward with consideration of fast track and trade pacts like TPP and TTIP, the Teamsters have an obligation not only to our members but to all U.S. workers to stand up to corporations trying to put their bottom lines above the livelihoods of working families.