Free Traders Raise Concerns About TPP Investor Dispute Language


The Teamsters and other fair trade allies for years have raised hell about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it’s a corporate power grab that would result in thousands of jobs being shipped overseas. But now even free trade advocates are realizing it.

Some 200 economic and legal schools who generally support trade deals signed a letter sent to Congress today announcing their opposition to the 12-nation TPP because of its investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) language that would empower thousands of multinational corporations to challenge U.S. policies before panels of three private attorneys to demand taxpayer compensation.

The concerns about such rulings are real, as Canada recently was ordered to pay $300 million to one company because of an environmental decision made by the government. University of California at Davis Professor Cruz Reynoso said the U.S. needs to be on guard as well, especially if the TPP is adopted.

“This is not a matter of just a hypothetical situation,” Reynoso, a professor of law emeritus, said. “The ISDS is a frontal attack on our judicial system.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a longtime foe of the Pacific Rim deal, said ISDS “is about leverage, leverage for big companies to intimidate governments.” She noted that once a nation is burned by such a ruling, it is likely to think twice before defending its laws. She added “it is only a matter of time” until the U.S. faces such a case.

The Teamsters have long raised concerns about ISDS. In early 2015, General President Jim Hoffa wrote in the Huffington Post that American taxpayers would be left to cover the damage that foreign corporates wrought.

“[T]he ISDS language shows that based on this TPP chapter alone, the average worker is going to get screwed. The provisions will give corporations the ability to do an end-around on U.S. laws they don’t like. How is that fair? What about the rights of the American people? What about democracy?”

He reiterated that in a Detroit News piece last month, stating ISDS “gives overseas companies that come to this country even more rights and privileges than hard-working Americans and this nation’s own businesses receive. It also elevates these outside businesses to a level equal to the U.S. government by allowing them to sue this country in these special corporate courts.”

At a time when the corporate class continues to push its policy agenda on this country at the expense of everyday Americans, the public must put its foot down. No to corporate control of our government! And no to the big business boondoggle known as the TPP!