|The Teamsters joined fair trade advocates earlier this month in protesting TPP.|
The Senate is on the verge of giving final approval later today to fast track legislation that will allow lousy trade deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to speed through Congress with little debate and no chance to amend them. Sadly, a majority of lawmakers will choose to side with the powerful over the people.
It is discouraging to lose this battle. More than 57,000 contacts with lawmakers were made through the Teamsters' phone and e-mail tools in recent weeks to tell them to stick up for American workers. But it wasn't enough. As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said:
History shows it makes no sense to give a quick up-or-down vote to bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will only ship jobs overseas and lower wages in the U.S. Yet again, workers have been tossed aside by some lawmakers who are more interested in pleasing their corporate cronies than doing what’s best for their constituents.
But the trade war isn't over. Not by a long shot. The fast track fight has been a galvanizing battle in the effort to build a fair trade movement for the 21st century that protects American jobs and the environment. The momentum is on the side of the hundreds of thousands of people who are now engaged in this effort, organized in the states and intent to fight for their rights.
The battle now turns to the TPP. Americans have not yet seen the text of this lengthy and complex agreement and even elected officials have limited access to the document. How can Congress approve such a trade deal when it doesn’t know everything that is in it?
What the public does know, however, isn’t good. Several TPP chapters have been unveiled by WikiLeaks, and they show the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal would result in lost American jobs, bigger U.S. trade deficits due to the currency manipulation practices of other countries and even the possibility that this country’s laws could be challenged by foreign corporations and overturned by an international tribunal.
That’s why the Teamsters and other advocates plan on keeping up the pressure to build real and enforceable labor and environmental standards. A process also needs to be established that includes and informs the public, rather than keeping people on the outside of the negotiating process.
TPP backers have made big promises about how the trade deal will change the lives of Americans for the better, even though The Washington Post found it won’t create any new U.S. jobs. Now they have to make good on those promises. American workers need to get something from these agreements. The corporate class insists they will. The Teamsters and those standing up for workers will hold them accountable for their promises.