(WASHINGTON) – The following is the official statement of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in response to the introduction today in Congress of legislation that would allow Congress to give a quick up-or-down vote to trade agreements like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated with no chance to amend them.
“Leaders in the House and Senate, buoyed by their friends in big business, are moving forward with pushing fast-track trade promotion legislation that would allow secret trade pacts to sail through Congress with no chance to alter them. That’s bad for American workers as well as their families.
“Fast track would give negotiators involved with crafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free reign to promote the corporate agenda over the well-being of ordinary citizens. Here in the U.S., thousands of jobs would be shipped overseas to places like Vietnam that pay workers less than $3 a day. It would be a continuation of the gutting of the middle class that began under NAFTA.
“For those fortunate enough to keep their jobs, however, there is still reason for concern. They would be inundated with substandard food and products from foreign shores that would jeopardize their health and safety. Then there is the concern of non-American corporations suing to overturn U.S. law so they can sell their products here and stick taxpayers with their legal settlement tab to boot.
“We see firsthand the devastating impact that free trade agreements, like the South Korea trade deal, have on American workers and our economy. The South Korea agreement had its third anniversary recently, but this was little cause for celebration. This trade deal resulted in the loss of 84,000 good U.S. jobs and caused the trade deficit to soar by 85 percent.
“Americans oppose the use of fast track to pass the TPP, which threatens jobs, wages, food safety and environmental protections. But they will be forced to endure it if this same-old trade vehicle is ultimately approved.”
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.