Hoffa: Despite Deal, Resistance to TPP Grows in All Corners

By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
Published in the Huffington Post October 6, 2015

We know a bad deal when we see one, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) just announced in Atlanta sure looks like one. Hundreds of Teamsters were joined in the streets of Atlanta this past week by other fair trade advocates sticking up for everyday Americans who could be damaged by the TPP. Unfortunately, negotiators from the U.S. and the other involved nations did not listen.

Yesterday, officials from all 12 TPP countries involved in the pact came together and attempted to declare victory for a deal that will unite 40 percent of the global economy. They praised all aspects of the pact, including how it would enhance competition across the globe and lead to an explosion in innovation. However, they were largely muted on what the costs would be for workers on both sides of the Pacific.

Protesters warned about the problems the Pacific Rim trade deal could bring to people around the world. Whether it’s jobs being shipped overseas and wages being driven down in the U.S., medicine prices going through the roof, more pollution or unsafe food and products heading to our shores as a result of this bad trade deal, that wasn’t enough to sway TPP negotiators.

Demonstrators weren’t alone in expressing their doubts and opposition. Several lawmakers raised questions about the deal, including some members of Congress typically supportive of trade agreements.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who helped push through fast track trade authority in Congress, said the TPP in its current form has serious problems. “While the details are still emerging, unfortunately I am afraid this deal appears to fall woefully short,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company said that the agreement would only worsen an already obscenely large U.S. trade deficit, would fail to address rampant currency manipulation by certain Pacific Rim countries, and that members of Congress should vote against the bad trade deal. “To ensure the future competitiveness of American manufacturing, we recommend Congress not approve the TPP in its current form, and ask the Administration to renegotiate TPP and incorporate strong and enforceable currency rules,” it said.

Ford realizes that by doing nothing to curb currency manipulation, the TPP allows other nations to tamper with their currency valuation so that their exports to the U.S. appear inexpensive to American consumers, while American goods and services are expensive to our would-be customers. It particularly hurts sales of American automobiles in places like Japan, for example. That lowers sales of U.S.-made goods and forces companies to either relocate overseas or shut down completely. And that hurts American families who rely on good jobs to pay for college or save for retirement.

These doubts about the trade pact don’t even take into consideration what the public and lawmakers will learn before Congress takes action. Based on what we already know, the more we learn about the fine print, the less we will like.

So here is where we stand. Because Congress in June approved fast-track trade authority, the TPP can’t be amended by elected officials. Instead, lawmakers will only be able to give a quick up-or-down vote on the pact. That means their only choice is to reject it when it comes up for a vote sometime next year.

If approved, the TPP will expand incentives to offshore U.S. jobs. Bum trade deals like NAFTA have killed upwards of 1 million U.S. jobs, many of which moved abroad. And that’s the concern with the looming TPP. These big business handouts continue to hollow out the manufacturing base of communities and destroy middle-class jobs in their wake.

The Teamsters and many, many others just don’t see any value in what TPP brings to this country. First and foremost, the deal won’t create any new jobs here at home. That is significant and can’t be brushed aside by TPP supporters. After all, those supporters insist that the trade deal will create new work for Americans, but can never quite explain how. There’s a reason why their responses are so vague.

Beyond that, however, is the pressure the TPP will place on U.S. wages. The deal will turbo charge a salary race-to-the-bottom. Many hardworking Americans will see their jobs shipped to low-pay countries like Vietnam. Those Americans lucky enough to keep their jobs will be paid less. Promises that the TPP will help to raise labor standards in other countries will fall short; similar provisions in prior trade agreements didn’t deliver. The only winner will be corporate America, which will bask in the glory of its additional billions in profits.

In short, this is a bad deal that doesn’t deserve the stamp of approval from Congress. As the Teamsters have stressed in our new Let’s Get America Working campaign, businesses need to invest at home, not abroad. And elected officials need to remember they serve the people, not corporations.