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Posts Tagged ‘Trans Pacific Partnership’

Postal Workers To Rally Against TPP Tuesday

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlando’s Dolphin Hotel.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein made the following statement when announcing the rally:

“Postal workers are a proud part of a global grass-roots movement in opposing this devious, corporate-backed deal which would hurt workers and the environment in 12 different countries — if allowed to go forward. Like NAFTA and other hard-sold multinational deals, the TPP was negotiated in secret and has very little to do with trade between nations. It’s about increasing the power of multinational corporations to dictate our future, and it’s about taking away the rights of citizens and workers to advocate for a better quality of life.”

“The TPP is an attack on working people – including U.S. postal workers. We’re rallying in Orlando to make sure politicians from both parties hear us loud and clear and we’re going to head back to every zip code from Orlando with a message that the TPP needs to be blocked. Republicans and Democrats must listen to grass-roots activists across the political spectrum, vote down the TPP and get to work on an economic and environmental agenda that is fair to workers in all countries.”

Background

TPP is an agreement between 12 Pacific-region nations, but other nations like China will be able to join later. TPP is called a “trade” agreement, even though most of the sections of the agreement are about things like allowing investors to sue governments for laws and regulations that infringe on their profits, granting monopolies to giant pharmaceutical companies, and “intellectual property” rights.

The agreement was negotiated and written in secrecy, largely by past, present and future representatives of corporations. It places corporate “rights” above governments, as well as above the “rights” of working people and the environment. For example, corporate investors can sue governments for what they consider to be violations of the agreement that hurt their profits, and the suits are judged by corporate attorneys. There is no appeal and the sovereign, established court systems of the counties in the agreement are prohibited from interfering.But labor, environmental, consumer or any other “stakeholder” group have no such recourse if they feel their rights are being violated.

OurFuture’s June 2015 post, “Will TPP Kill The Post Office?”, noted that then then-secret TPP could be a problem for the US Postal Service in particular. From that post:

As if we needed yet another reason for the public to see the text of TPP before Congress preapproves it with fast track, here is a question: Does the TPP contain provisions that corporations can use to force us to privatize “public” things like our Post Office, public schools, public roads etc., so they can replace them with profit-making enterprises that provide a return only to the wealthy few?

We need to see the provisions of TPP that are designed to regulate “state-owned enterprises” (SOEs) and see them now.

Now We Know

TPP is no longer secret. Now the peasants are at last begrudgingly allowed to know what is in the “agreement.” Now we know that TPP has rules preventing governments (We the People) from “competing” with private corporations. This means that private corporations receive the return from the economy, while We the People are prohibited from just doing things for ourselves.

While continuation of the US Postal Service as presently constituted is written into TPP, the “trade” agreement could prohibit We the People from deciding we want it to do things like postal banking,  and other things we might want to do to benefit ourselves.

As the June, 2015 post noted:

Today corporations and investors consider our highways to be “commercial activity” and are competing to turn such roads into private business. There is a corporate movement battling to privatize our public schools and turn those into corporate profit centers. Private companies are trying to get (and many have gotten) the right to deliver our water instead of publicly owned municipal systems. Many municipalities have already turned over garbage collection to private companies, thereby impoverishing the workforce. Would it be a surprise to find that the corporations have inserted provisions into TPP demanding privatization of the Postal Service, schools, roads and anything else the public currently runs?

Ask any conservative and they will likely tell you that anything a government does to make people’s lives better only interferes with “the market.” They will tell you our public, “government” schools should be privatized. They will tell you that the Post Office needs to go away. They hate Amtrak, public broadcasting, the Export-Import Bank and, public transit. They certainly hate public health care. Many will even say that we shouldn’t have public parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. They have even privatized prisons.

TPP Coming Up For A Rigged Vote Unless We Stop It

Back when We the People were still not allowed to know what was in TPP, a provision called “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was passed by Congress. Fast track TPA rigged the rules of Congress to grease the skids for TPP when it comes up for a vote, which looks like it will be in the “lame duck” session of Congress after the November elections and before the new Congress is sworn in.

It is possible to stop TPP if we can convince enough members of the House of Representatives to go on record now as opposing it. To help with this, see last week’s post,“These Are Your 28 TPP House Democrat Targets”:

President Obama is trying to get a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the “lame duck” session of Congress that will take place after the election. We can help stop this by getting enough Democrats on the record as opposing the TPP.

In particular, we need to get the 28 Democrats who – in spite of opposition from most Democrats and hundreds of labor, consumer, LGBT, health, human rights, faith, democracy and other civil organizations – voted for the “fast-track” trade promotion authority (TPA) bill that “greased the skids” for the TPP by setting up rigged rules that will help TPP pass.

Now, along with all of those voters and organizations, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the rest of us need to start working on getting those 28 Democrats to oppose a vote after the election.

Call your Representative and say, “No to TPP!”

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on August 22, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

TPP Opposition: Make Them Do It And Hold Them To It

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Dave JohnsonElites take “globalization” as a given because “trade” deals have pushed sovereignty off the table and locked governments out of decision-making over things like stopping offshoring of jobs and protecting domestic industries. They smirk knowingly and wink and nod when politicians respond to citizen complaints about the disastrous effect this is having on populations, regions and economies. They assume the politicians are just saying what they need to say to get votes and will rejoin them after they get that pesky election out of the way.

But times are changing. The public has caught on. “Brexit,” the rise of Donald Trump and other reactions to globalization are forcing politicians to come down on the side of the people instead of the corporations.

For example, it turns out that the latest deal to push national governments aside so corporations can do what they want to do, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is a very big deal at the Democratic convention, with the entire convention chanting “No TPP, No TPP.” And it has become a very big deal in national politics, too, with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders having made it a centerpiece of their presidential campaigns in the Republican and Democratic parties.

Clinton Opposed To TPP

Hillary Clinton has responded to the pressure, saying repeatedly that she is opposed to TPP and opposed to a vote on TPP in the “lame duck” session after the election.

Appearing on stage with Bernie Sanders as he endorsed her for president, Clinton restated her opposition to TPP, saying, “[W]e’re going to say no to attacks on working families and no to bad trade deals and unfair trade practices, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

McAuliffe Says Clinton Will Shift “Once The Election’s Over”

Virginia governor, long-time Clinton friend and insider Terry McAuliffe, said in public that he thinks Hillary Clinton will shift to being a globalist once the election is out of the way.

Politico’s Morning Trade has the story.

“Once the election’s over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it but going forward we got to build a global economy.”

Pressed on whether Clinton would turn around and support the trade deal she opposed during the heat of the primary fight against Bernie Sanders, McAuliffe said: “Yes. Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wants fixed.”

Trump Jumps On It

Donald Trump immediately jumped on McAuliffe’s comments, saying it shows that Clinton will “betray” TPP opponents. The odious Washington Times covers this story, in “Donald Trump: ‘Just like I have warned,’ Hillary Clinton will ‘betray you’ on TPP“:

Donald Trump seized on Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s comments that Hillary Clinton will flip and support the Trans-Pacific Partnership almost as quickly as Mrs. Clinton’s team disavowed them, pointing out that he’s warned in the past of her looming betrayal on the issue.

“As I have been saying, Crooked Hillary will approve the job killing TPP after the election, despite her statements to the contrary: top adv.,” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Mr. Trump had also shared a Politico story — in which Mr. McAuliffe predicted Mrs. Clinton would support some version of the trade deal after the election — in a tweet Tuesday night: “Just like I have warned from the beginning, Crooked Hillary Clinton will betray you on the TPP.”

Podesta: It’s Not Going to Happen

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta immediately tweeted in response to Trump’s comments that Clinton opposes TPP and opposes a vote after the election in the “lame duck” session.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Podesta went further. WSJ reports in “Hillary Clinton Committed to ‘New Approach’ on Trade Deal, Not Tweaks, Aide Podesta Says,” that Podesta responded that this is not what will happen.

John Podesta said that Mrs. Clinton and her newly minted running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, have been clear about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

“They’re against it before the election and against it after the election,” he said at a lunch sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. He said he met with House Democrats, who overwhelmingly oppose the pact, on Monday and reiterated that position. “So they know, they well know what our position is.”

Asked if Mrs. Clinton would seek to renegotiate particular aspects of the agreement but keep the overall structure, he said no.

“We need a new approach to trade,” he said. “We’re not about renegotiation. We’re not kind of interested in that. We’re interested in a new approach.”

But Podesta hedged on whether Clinton will actively oppose a “lame duck” vote on TPP after the election.

Asked whether Mrs. Clinton would seek to block a lame-duck vote, Mr. Podesta, a former Obama adviser, said: “What the president chooses to do, whether he thinks that that’s an effective strategy, is up to him, but that is not our strategy.”

Kaine Opposed Now

Bowing to political reality Clinton’s vice presidential pick Tim Kaine changed from support for TPP to opposition. Politico reported:

Kaine spokeswoman Amy Dudley said Saturday that the Virginia Democrat shared his negative views on the trade deal with Clinton this week, confirming a report by The Washington Post. “He agreed with her judgment that it fell short” when it came to protecting wages and national security, a Clinton aide reportedly told the newspaper.

Pelosi Opposed As Well

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came out clearly in opposition to TPP. The Huffington Post has the story, in “Nancy Pelosi Declares Opposition To Obama’s Trade Deal“:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has come out in opposition to the massive Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal as it’s currently written, putting her on the same page as newly minted vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) made the declaration in a letter late last week to several groups that protested outside her offices in San Francisco and delivered her more than 200,000 petition signatures opposing the TPP.

“Please be assured that I will oppose the TPP as it is currently written or any deal that attempts to separate commerce from the environment and will work to ensure our nation’s trade policies include increased transparency, more consultation, and stronger protections to create jobs, strengthen human rights and protect the environment,” Pelosi wrote in messages sent to the Citizens Trade Campaign, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others involved in the campaign.

Elites Have Been Forced To Change And Mean It

Clinton, Kaine, Pelosi, the Democratic Party platform, the entire convention. Pretty much all of the Democratic party now opposes TPP.

One more example: Gene Sperling, a longtime Clinton economic advisor as well as a top aide to President Obama, said at a convention event that TPP is “in the rearview mirror” now. The Los Angeles Times has the story, headlined “Advisors scramble to stop speculation that Hillary Clinton might go back on her word on TPP“:

The TPP, as the massive trade pact is known, is “in the rearview mirror, now,” said Gene Sperling, the longtime Clinton economic advisor who also served as a top aide to Obama.

“There’s no evidence” that “any version” of the TPP would meet the test that Clinton has set during the campaign — whether it would clearly improve the jobs picture in the U.S., Sperling said at a briefing sponsored by the Atlantic magazine.

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter whether Clinton, Kaine and others oppose TPP and globalization in their hearts. What matters is what they will do. They are more and more on the record, even it if is only that they want to win. This puts more and more pressure on them not to support TPP vote after the election.

What matters is that we keep the pressure on and don’t let up. We have to force Obama and Congress away from voting on TPP in the unaccountable “lame duck” session of Congress. It’s up to us to make them do it and hold them to it. That is how politics and democracy are supposed to work. We must continue to make it clear to every politician in both parties that support for TPP is toxic, and that a betrayal on it would be devastatingly costly. Because that’s how it’s done.

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on July 28, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

Trumka: Passage of Strong Trade Amendment Marks Major Milestone

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Kenneth-Quinnell_smallAFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement in reaction to the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee’s passage of a trade amendment during its Orlando, Florida, meeting:

Today marks a major milestone for everyone who believes in the high standard that trade should raise wages and create good jobs in America.

The Democratic Party’s adoption of strong, pro-worker trade positions is historic but didn’t happen by itself. The voices of working people put the brakes on TPP and forced a real, vibrant debate about ending corporate trade. Secretary Hillary Clinton has made clear that she opposes the TPP before or after the election and believes in a whole new approach to trade that shares our values. Now, the Democratic Party has listened to working families and responded in a powerful, positive way.

We don’t, however, have any illusions that the fight is over. The Democratic Party has taken a strong position, but the threat of unfair agreements, including TPP, remains. We will continue to point out TPP’s fundamental flaws and mobilize to defeat it and any trade deals that don’t work for working people.

This blog originally appeared at aflcio.org on July 12, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Kenneth Quinnell: I am a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist.  Before joining the AFL-CIO in 2012, I worked as labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.  Previous experience includes Communications Director for the Darcy Burner for Congress Campaign and New Media Director for the Kendrick Meek for Senate Campaign, founding and serving as the primary author for the influential state blog Florida Progressive Coalition and more than 10 years as a college instructor teaching political science and American History.  My writings have also appeared on Daily Kos, Alternet, the Guardian Online, Media Matters for America, Think Progress, Campaign for America’s Future and elsewhere.  I am the proud father of three future progressive activists, an accomplished rapper and karaoke enthusiast.

ANOTHER Corporation Suing Our Government Thanks To Trade Agreements

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Dave JohnsonA Canadian corporation is suing the us because we wouldn’t let them build a pipeline across our country (seizing people’s property along the way) so they could sell oil to China.

They can do this because we signed a trade agreement that places corporate rights above our democracy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would increase by an order of magnitude the companies that can sue us for hurting their profits by protecting the environment, consumers, public health and small businesses.

Because They Can

TransCanada Corporation is suing the U.S. government (us) for $15 billion in damages under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rules. The company wanted to build the Keystone pipeline all the way from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico so they could ship oil to China. They also wanted to use “eminent domain” to seize land from ranchers, farmers and other property owners along the way to enable this.

Why can they do this? In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA and on January 1, 1994, the United States officially became a party to the agreement. Chapter 11 of the agreement “protects investors” by allowing them to sue governments that pass regulations or laws that hurt their profits. They can bypass the legal systems of these governments and take the issue to “corporate courts” in which corporate attorneys decide if the corporation or the government will prevail.

Bloomberg has the story, in “TransCanada Files $15B NAFTA Claim on Keystone XL Rejection“:

TransCanada Corp. is seeking to recoup $15 billion for the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, in a legal claim that highlights how foreign companies can use trade deals to challenge U.S. policy.

The Calgary-based pipeline operator filed papers late Friday seeking arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that TransCanada had every reason to believe it would win approval to build Keystone XL. Instead, President Barack Obama last November determined that the pipeline, which would have carried Canadian oil sands crude to the U.S. Gulf coast, wasn’t in the national interest. In response, TransCanada in January vowed to use arbitration provisions in Chapter 11 of NAFTA to recover costs and damages.

The President of the United States decided that this project is not in the national interest. But “investor protection” provisions of trade agreements override our national interest. So we have to pay a company for not letting them seize public and private land to build a pipeline across our entire country so they can sell oil to China.

Countries Lose The Right To Protect Citizens

The investor-state dispute settlement provision of the TPP was among the main targets at Tuesday’s “Trading Up’ symposium on trade at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington.”

Both AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) singled out the ISDS, which Brown said “allows corporations to sue governments to pad their own profits,” as a key reason to oppose the TPP and replace it with a new trade regime that respects the interests of the people who governments are supposed to represent.

Thomas Palley, economist at the New American Foundation, said at the symposium that of provisions like the ISDS that do not really have anything directly to do with trade, agreements like the TPP “are not free trade agreements; they are global governance agreements.”

Calling them “global governance agreements,” he went on to say, would call attention to the enormity of the effect these clauses would have and would underscore the undemocratic way they are being imposed on populations around the world as well as the U.S.

Under NAFTA, we recently lost the right to, for example, tell consumers which country their meat comes from or whether tuna is dolphin-safe. Canada has been sued over their environmental laws. One company was even able to win $15 million and block Canada from stopping them from polluting the air with neurotoxins.

Under other trade agreements with similar provisions counties are being sued by tobacco companies for trying to help people stop smoking, and prevent kids from starting.

Climate vs. Profit

These “investor protection” provisions prevent governments from protecting the environment and the climate. For example, TransCanada claims that the U.S. choice to protect the climate cost them money, so we have to pay up. As economist Joseph Stiglitz said by video at the Trading Up symposium, instead of the “polluter pays” principle in U.S. law, “we pay the polluter for not polluting.” Or, worse, we pay the polluter for the right to keep polluting.

From the Bloomberg report:

The company said the U.S. spent seven years delaying a final decision on the project with multiple rounds of “arbitrary and contrived” analyses and justifications.

“None of that technical analysis or legal wrangling was material to the administration’s final decision,” TransCanada said in Friday’s filing. “Instead, the rejection was symbolic and based merely on the desire to make the U.S. appear strong on climate change, even though the State Department had itself concluded that denial would have no significant impact on the environment.”

If TPP Passes, More Like This

NAFTA covers just three countries, Mexico, Canada and the United States. The TPP starts with 12 countries, but it is a “docking agreement,” which means more and more countries can sign on as corporate power grows and is able to force them to do so. This means the number of corporations that can sue governments for hurting profits by protecting citizens and the environment grows exponentially.

Again, from Bloomberg:

Foreign companies could exploit the investor-state dispute settlement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to weaken U.S. environmental policy and labor protections. TransCanada’s NAFTA claim highlights the risk, said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

“TransCanada’s attempt to make American taxpayers hand over more than $15 billion because the company’s dirty Keystone XL pipeline was rejected shows exactly why NAFTA was wrong and why the even more dangerous and far-reaching Trans-Pacific Partnership must be stopped,” Brune said in an emailed statement.

“The TPP would empower thousands of new firms operating in the U.S., including major polluters, to follow in TransCanada’s footsteps and undermine our critical climate safeguards in private trade tribunals,” Brune said.

The lesson here is that we must do everything we can to fight the TPP, and demand our government renegotiate the rest of the “trade” agreements the corporations got us into. But this time the agreements must be negotiated with labor, environmental, consumer, human rights and all other “stakeholder” groups at the table.

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on June 15, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

Best-Case Projections For TPP Show Few Benefits, Worse Trade Deficit

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Dave JohnsonThe U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has released a report predicting the effect the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on the U.S. economy. In the past these reports have been skewed to promote trade agreements, with numbers that turned out to be much better than what actually happened.

Even with this history of exaggerated promises of benefits from trade agreements, the ITC says that TPP won’t do all that much for our economy, and will make the trade deficit worse. The ITC report says TPP will increase the U.S. trade deficit by over $21 billion per year and will harm employment in key industries.

ITC Reports Have History Of Rosy Projections

In the past the ITC reports have made flowery promises about what will happen when we sign trade agreements. The actual results varied considerably and were much worse for the U.S. than projected.

A study released last week by Public Citizen looked at past ITC projections of what would happen if we entered into trade agreements. The study looked at the ITC’s promises about NAFTA (the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and the Korea-U.S. agreement. It found that the ITC predictions on each pact was inaccurate, always projecting a much better outcome than actually occurred.

According to a Public Citizen news release accompanying the study:

The USITC predicted improved trade balances, gains for specific sectors and more benefits from the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and 2007 U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in reports on those pacts. The agency projected only a small deficit increase from China’s 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) entry deal and the granting to China of permanent normal trade relations status.

Instead, the U.S. trade deficits with the trade partners increased dramatically and, as detailed in the text of the new study, manufacturing industries from autos to steel and farm sectors such as beef that were projected to “win” saw major losses. A government program to help Americans who lose jobs to trade certified 845,000 NAFTA jobs losses alone and econometric studies concluded that millions of jobs were lost from the China deal, in contrast to gains projected by the USITC reports.

This is a summary of the results:

NAFTA: Before NAFTA, the U.S. trade had a $2.6 billion goods trade surplus (services data was not available). The ITC predicted NAFTA would create a $10.6 billion goods and services surplus. Instead in 2015 we had a $57 billion goods and services deficit.

China: Before opening WTO trade with China, we had a $113 billion trade deficit.The ITC predicted this would grow to $120 billion. Instead in 2014 we had a #340 billion trade deficit with China.

South Korea: We had a $5.8 billion deficit. ITC predicted the agreement would cut that to a $2.5 billion deficit. But instead we had a $16.8 billion deficit.

The ITC Projections For TPP

The ITC has released its TPP report: “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors.” It projects extremely modest gains, and these only after 15 years.

Among the projections:

Main Findings

… The model estimated that TPP would have positive effects, albeit small as a percentage of the overall size of the U.S. economy. By year 15 ([032), U.S. annual real income would be $57.3 billion (0.23 percent) higher than the baseline projections, real GDP would be $42.7 billion (0.15 percent) higher, and employment would be 0.07 percent higher (128,000 full-time equivalents). U.S. exports and U.S. imports would be $27.2 billion (1.0 percent) and $48.9 billion (1.1 percent) higher, respectively, relative to baseline projections. U.S. exports to new FTA partners would grow by $34.6 billion (18.7 percent); U.S. imports from those countries would grow by $23.4 billion (10.4 percent).

And later in the summary, get this: “… agriculture and food would see the greatest percentage gain relative to the baseline projections; output would be $10.0 billion, or 0.5 percent, higher by year 15.”

Got that? The greatest gain our country would see from TPP is one half of one percent in the agriculture and food sectors, but only after 15 years.

The ITC report estimates U.S. economic growth gains would be $42.7 billion or 0.15 percent and income gains of $57.3 billion or 0.23 percent by 2032. Public Citizen explains how modest this is: “In other words, the ITC projects that the United States would be as wealthy on January 1, 2032 with TPP as it would be on February 15, 2032 without the TPP.”

It estimates a decline in output for U.S. manufacturing/natural resources/energy of $10.8 billion as exports would increase by $15.2 billion and imports would increase by $39.2 billion by 2032. This translates to a loss of even more U.S. jobs in these key sectors.

Keep in mind that this ITC report assumes that there will be a “level playing field” on which other TPP countries will not manipulate currency, suppress labor or other things that hurt American jobs. It also assumes that the countries will buy from us (trade) instead of following national economic strategies to enhance key national strategic industries by selling to us but not buying from us. Of course, this is not what happens in the real world, other countries protect themselves as countries with key national economic interests; we do not.

These are only the economic projections from TPP. They do not take into account that most of TPP is not about the economic results from “trade”; it is about enhancing the power of corporations over governments. Even if TPP dramatically increased economic activity (which all goes to a few at the top now anyway) it would not be worth handing over our democracy and sovereignty to the billionaires behind the giant corporations.

Statements

A statement from House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) begins:

My initial review of the ITC report only confirms my position that I cannot support TPP as negotiated.

“It is deeply troubling to read that overall U.S. manufacturing employment is expected to decline as a result of the agreement, and that the overall U.S. trade deficit is expected to worsen too, including in the auto and auto parts industry. And the ITC appears to confirm my concern that the weak automotive rules of origin in the agreement will result in lost auto parts jobs in the United States.

The AFL-CIO released a statement titled, “ITC Report Shows TPP Is Disastrous for Working Families”:

This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality. Even though it’s based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers. One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations. Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit.

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard:

“This report validates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not worth passing. In the past, similar reports have proven to widely underestimate the negative impact of trade agreements on American workers and the economy. This report as mandated by law indicates the TPP will produce, almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.

“Because of this history, average Americans know that economic projections based on rosy scenarios always end up the same. They pay the price with lost jobs, stagnating or declining wages and rising income inequality as Wall Street profits.

“As the report was being finalized for publication, TPP proponents were touting other biased and optimistic studies in an attempt to blunt the impact of this official study. It is time that we jettison theory and deal with reality: Our nation’s trade policies are in dramatic need of reform.

… “The ITC should be commended for its thorough evaluation of the proposed TPP and the open process that it pursued. It is clear that they listened to the array of voices that asked to be heard.

“But in the end, this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement. It is clear that the TPP will be DOA if Congress ever decides to bring it up.”

Statement from Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America:

The report found that US trade performance will worsen under the TPP overall and for the majority of sectors analyzed, including services.

The Commission’s report should be viewed as the most optimistic result possible from the TPP if everything goes right. It is worth remembering that the economic projections in the Commission’s prior reports on Permanent Normalized Trade Relations status with China and the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement were vastly more optimistic than the actual results.

Statement from Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans:

“Most troubling to older Americans, the report fails to take into account the high drug costs that are expected to result from the TPP. Prescription drug costs are increasing much faster than inflation, and the TPP will only make the situation worse. The TPP agreement would enable drug companies to fight the cost-control measures already used by Medicare and Medicaid and may prevent Congress from enacting additional cost-control measures in the future.”

Sierra Club Statement:

“Today’s U.S. International Trade Commission report offers further evidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be a disaster for working families, communities, and our climate. ITC reports have a record of projecting economic benefits of trade agreements that have failed to materialize, so it is noteworthy that even the overly-positive ITC acknowledges that the TPP would have real costs and estimates economic benefits that are slim.

“One of the costs of the TPP indicated by today’s report is that, by shifting U.S. manufacturing to countries with carbon-intensive production, the deal not only would cost U.S. manufacturing jobs, but also would spur increased climate-disrupting emissions.

“Today’s report is right to note the broad controversy over TPP rules that would empower major polluters to sue the U.S. government in private tribunals over climate and environmental protections. The report gives members of Congress further reason to reject the polluter-friendly TPP so that we can build a new model of trade that protects communities and the climate.”

Statement from International President Robert Martinez, Jr., of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM):

“The ITC, which historically has overestimated the benefits of trade agreements, predicts that the TPP will increase our nation’s trade deficit in manufacturing. This means that the corporate driven, secretly negotiated TPP will lead to the export of good paying manufacturing jobs to countries like Vietnam that lack basic human rights. For ordinary Americans struggling to get by this will result in more unemployment and continued downward pressure on wages and benefits.

“That a trade agreement created to boost corporate profits and CEO bonuses at the expense of working families would be so flawed is no surprise. We now have confirmation from the ITC that weak rules of origin for autos and other manufactured goods will only continue the deterioration of U.S. manufacturing. …

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on May 19, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

Did The Administration Offer New Balance A Big Contract For TPP Silence?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Dave JohnsonLast year President Obama went to Nike headquarters to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But Nike doesn’t make shoes in the US,  and TPP would force companies like New Balance to stop making shoes here. New Balance kept quiet about this, but now says the administration offered the company a big contract in exchange for its silence. New Balance is talking now, because the contract never came through.

A Contract In Exchange For Silence?

The Bangor Daily News has a big story this week, “New Balance claims Defense Department strung it along on military sneaker contract”:

New Balance officials say they’ve broken their silence over the Trans-Pacific Partnership because the Obama administration has failed to offer the company a chance for a contract to sell sneakers to the military.

… New Balance held its tongue about the TPP for nearly a year, he says, because federal officials told the company that if it did so, New Balance would get a shot at a military contract.

This is a very big deal. Last May’s post, “Obama To Visit Nike To Promote the TPP. Wait, NIKE? Really?”, explained what TPP means for the domestic shoe industry:

While the President visits Nike, New Balance is struggling to be able to keep some of its manufacturing in the U.S. Currently New Balance makes shoes in five factories in the U.S. Their executives say if TPP passes, lower tariffs on shoes made in places like Vietnam will force them to close their U.S. factories.

… If the President gets his way and TPP passes, the tariff on non-U.S.-made (Vietnam) shoes will end and New Balance – like so many other companies struggling to manufacture inside the U.S. – will have no choice but to end its U.S. manufacturing operations. Meanwhile Nike, already manufacturing in Vietnam and Malaysia and currently selling shoes that cost $10 to make for over $100, will gain even more of an advantage, which obviously will not be passed on to consumers. If you are able to get a certain price for a product, why reduce it?

This is just one example of how even more American workers would lose their jobs if TPP passes.

TPP would lower tariffs on shoes (and everything else) coming into the country from low-wage TPP countries. Companies like Nike would be rewarded for closing factories here in the past. Companies like New Balance would be forced to close factories here in the future.

New Balance says the government offered the company this contract if it would keep quiet about what TPP would do to domestic manufacturers. The military buys a lot of sneakers — as many as 200,000 pairs each year. It currently buys non-US-made sneakers, in spite of rules saying they should buy US-sourced when possible. So New Balance should have this contract anyway. (TPP would prohibit us from requiring the purchase of US-made goods with our own tax dollars.) But the government apparently used the promise of the contract to buy the company’s silence about the job-killing effect if TPP passes.

The Boston Globe has more on this, in “New Balance accuses Pentagon of reneging on sneaker deal”:

New Balance is renewing its opposition to the far-reaching Pacific Rim trade deal, saying the Obama administration reneged on a promise to give the sneaker maker a fair shot at military business if it stopped bad-mouthing the agreement.

After several years of resistance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact aimed at making it easier to conduct trade among the United States and 11 other countries, the Boston company had gone quiet last year. New Balance officials say one big reason is that they were told the Department of Defense would give them serious consideration for a contract to outfit recruits with athletic shoes.

… “We swallowed the poison pill that is TPP so we could have a chance to bid on these contracts,” said Matt LeBretton, New Balance’s vice president of public affairs. “We were assured this would be a top-down approach at the Department of Defense if we agreed to either support or remain neutral on TPP.

The government offered a lucrative contract to a company, to keep quiet and not alert the public to the potential job-losses from TPP. Just, wow.

What Else?

This story raises the question of what else the administration is doing to get TPP through, and why. For example, last year the “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority bill prohibited the administration from entering into “trade” agreements like TPP with countries that violate human rights, in particular human trafficking. Malaysia violates human rights by enabling human trafficking. Malaysia is a TPP country.

So the administration solved the problem by declaring that Malaysia doesn’t do that after all, even though they do.

Last year’s post “Obama Administration Makes Malaysia Slavery Problem For TPP Disappear”explains:

[T]he trade promotion authority law … prohibits the U.S. from entering into “trade” agreements with “tier 3” human-trafficking countries.

According to news reports, the Obama administration found an easy – and extremely cynical – fix: just change Malaysia’s rating to a “tier 2.” Problem solved. But human rights groups, labor and members of Congress are “outraged,” “shocked” and “deeply disturbed.”

… Human trafficking? Slavery? Sex slaves? People kept in cages? Mass graves? Abuse of workers? No problem. Just tell the State Department to ignore it.

Another post, “Did Obama Administration Downplay Malaysia Slavery To Grease Trade Deal?”, elaborates,

Cheap labor is the whole point of our corporate-rigged, NAFTA-style trade agreements. Companies get to move jobs, factories, even entire industries out of the U.S. to countries where people are exploited, the environment is not protected and “costs” like human safety are kept low.

But even so … tolerating slavery? Flat-out slavery? Really? Unfortunately, it looks like that’s what is happening with fast-track trade promotion authority, The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Obama administration.

… Malaysia was a Tier 3 country in the 2014 TIP report. The 2015 TIP report was supposed to be released in June but was delayed coincident with the passage of fast-track legislation with the slavery clause. The report was released Monday, and changes Malaysia’s TIP rating from the worst “Tier 3” to a “Tier 2,? even though there is little or no change in Malaysia’s actual performance.

Promising a company a big military contract if they would keep quiet about the job-killing effects of TPP? Letting a country off the hook for actual slavery?

The TPP is all about pushing jobs out of the country in search of lower wages so executives and shareholders can pocket that wage differential. But slavery? Really? Contracts for silence about how it will close US factories? Really?

What else is going on to push this corporate-favoring “trade” agreement?

This blog originally appeared at ourfuture.org on April 15, 2016.  Reprinted with permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

New Study Confirms: Private “Trade” Courts Serve the Ultra-Wealthy

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

A new study confirms what many activists have suspected for a long time: The private courts set up by international “trade” deals heavily favor billionaires and giant corporations, and they do so at the expense of governments and people.

Smaller companies and less-wealthy individuals don’t benefit nearly as much from these private courts as the extremely rich and powerful do. Other interested parties – whether they’re governments, children, working people, or the planet itself – are unable to benefit from these private courts at all.

The “investor-state dispute settlement” process, or ISDS, is built into treaties like NAFTA and the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It allows foreign investors to sue participating governments if they do anything that harms their investment in that nation. Corporations can sue governments through this process, but governments can’t sue corporations.

As Todd Tucker pointed out in The Washington Post, a “wide range of policies can be challenged” under ISDS: “Argentina has had its macroeconomic policies challenged, Australia its anti-smoking efforts, [and] Costa Rica its environmental preservation laws.”

Suits are not brought through a normal, public court process. Instead, they are heard before private panels of arbitrators, often made up of attorneys who represent corporations as part of their practice. These hearings are conducted under rules set up by independent arbitration bodies that include the International Chamber of Commerce.

Activists have been arguing for a long time that this process is unfairly skewed toward powerful corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals. Now there is data to back up that opinion. A new study published by York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto has concluded that “the beneficiaries of ISDS … have overwhelmingly been companies with more than $1 billion per year in annual revenue – especially extra-large companies with more than $10 billion – and individuals with more than $100 million in net wealth.”

Report authors Gus Van Harten and Pavel Malysheuski point out that the “legitimacy” of the ISDS concept “appears to depend in part on an expectation that it benefits smaller businesses, not just large multinationals and the super wealthy.”

But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Virtually all of the financial benefits of the ISDS have gone to the rich and powerful. Nearly 95 percent of all award money went to giant corporations or extremely wealthy individuals.

The ISDS industry scored big, too. The authors found that ISDS “lawyers, arbitrators, experts and other actors” had earned an estimated $1.7 billion from these hearings by the spring of 2015.

The statistics in the Osgoode study are startling at times. Those “extra-large” corporations of $10 billion or more in revenue won 70.8 percent of the time, while others were only successful 42.2 percent of the time. They won in the “merits” stage of their hearings 82.9 percent of the time, versus a 57.9 percent success rate for everyone else.

The ISDS process has received relatively little attention in this country, perhaps because the United States has fared better than many other countries in ISDS hearings.

Reading this report, it’s not hard to understand why. Most of the countries that signed deals like NAFTA don’t have as many billion-dollar corporations and highly wealthy individuals as the United States does. As this report shows, that means their oligarchs and companies are less likely to win big through ISDS.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative even boasts that “foreign investors rarely pursue arbitration against the United States and have never been successful when they have done so.”

Unfortunately, that’s probably about to change. The TPP includes Japan, Australia, and other countries with their own powerful corporations and individuals. They’re much more likely to successfully challenge the U.S. under this deal, on everything from consumer safety to environmental protection. What’s more, there are signs that the U.S. could begin to lose under past agreements as well.

As a trade campaigner for Greenpeace said of a similar “trade” deal:

“This trade deal is not about trade. It’s about the transfer of power from people to big business.”

Thanks to this new report, we now have objective evidence that she’s right. These agreements have given great power to the wealthy and powerful few, at the expense of the many. It’s time to reject the TPP and renegotiate the bad deals of the past.

This blog originally appeared in ourfuture.org on March 1, 2016.  Reprinted with permission.

Richard Eskow is a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future and the host of The Zero Hour, a weekly program of news, interviews, and commentary on We Act Radio The Zero Hour is syndicated nationally and is available as a podcast on iTunes. Richard has been a consultant, public policy advisor, and health executive in health financing and social insurance. He was cited as one of “fifty of the world’s leading futurologists” in “The Rough Guide to the Future,” which highlighted his long-range forecasts on health care, evolution, technology, and economic equality. Richard’s writing has been published in print and online. He has also been anthologized three times in book form for “Best Buddhist Writing of the Year.”

Trade Deals Like the TPP Are Murdering American Manufacturing

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Leo Gerard

In the week before Valentine’s Day, United Technologies expressed its love for its devoted Indiana employees, workers whose labor had kept the corporation profitable, by informing 2,100 of them at two facilities that it was shipping their factories, their jobs, their communities’ resources to Mexico.

A few workers shouted obscenities at the corporate official. Some walked out. Others openly wept as United Technologies shattered their hopes, their dreams, their means to pay middle-class mortgages.

Three days later, 1,336 workers at Philadelphia’s largest remaining manufacturer, Cardone, learned that company planned to throw them out too and build brake calipers in Mexico instead. Two weeks earlier, a Grand Rapids, Mich., company called Dematic did the same thing to its 300 workers.

No surprise. In the first decade of this century, America lost 56,190 factories, 15 a day.

Republican presidential candidates talk incessantly of building a physical wall to keep impoverished Mexican immigrants out of America. What they fail to offer is an economic barrier to prevent the likes of United Technologies and Cardone and Dematic from impoverishing American workers by exporting their jobs to Mexico.

The president of Carrier, owned by United Technologies, gathered the Indianapolis factory employees, skilled workers who earn an average of $20 an hour, and informed them that the corporation planned to kick them to the curb but expected them to perform to the highest standards until Carrier opened a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico, where workers will be paid $3 an hour.

Carrier President Chris Nelson told the group, “This was an extremely difficult decision.”

Such difficulties for poor, poor United Technologies! It was making a nice profit at its Indianapolis and Huntington factories. But it was not the big fat profit it could pocket by paying Mexican workers a mere $3 an hour, providing $3 an hour in health and pension benefits, and doing it all in the nation with the longest work weeks among the 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It would be “extremely difficult” for United Technologies to abandon Indiana after the corporation grabbed $530,000 from the pockets of hard-working Hoosiers over the past nine years as the state’s economic development agency forked over taxpayer cash to the corporation.

It would be even more “difficult” to turn its back on America considering that United Technologies grabbed $121 million from a federal tax credit program established specifically to ensure that green manufacturing jobs remained in the United States. Carrier took $5.1 million of those tax credits in 2013.

“This is strictly a business decision,” Nelson told the jeering workers. It wasn’t because of anything they had done. It was just that Mexico allows corporations to exploit its people in ways that America does not. Its minimum wage is 58 cents an hour, while the United States requires at least $7.25. For now, at least. Some GOP president candidates (Donald Trump) have said they think that’s too high.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ensnared Mexican and American workers in a race to the bottom. And the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal among 12 countries instead of just three, would place American and Mexican workers in an even worse competition. They’d vie for jobs with forced and child labor in places like Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Under NAFTA, cheap American grain shipped to Mexico without tariffs destroyed peasant farming. And that prompted migration north. Meanwhile, American factories saw desperate Mexicans willing to work for a pittance, a government unwilling to pass or enforce environmental laws, and because of NAFTA, no tariffs when the goods were shipped back to the United States. That propelled factory migration south.

Before NAFTA, the United States had a small trade surplus with Mexico. That disappeared within a year, and now the annual trade deficit is approximately $50 billion.

Though it has been 22 years since NAFTA took effect, a report issued last week by the AFL-CIO says, “Labor abuses in many cases are worse now than before NAFTA … In short, NAFTA has contributed to labor abuses, not improvements.”

The report says the Mexican government fails to enforce labor laws and refuses to ensure that workers can form independent labor unions to try to protect their own rights. In fact, the report says, “The human and labor rights situation in Mexico is rapidly deteriorating.”

As a result, workers are powerless and completely at the mercy of corporations. So corporations like United Technologies can pay them $3 an hour and get away with it. This is not good for Mexican workers. And it’s not good for American workers.

The AFL-CIO report makes it clear that the TPP would worsen the situation because it would give corporations like United Technologies the option of moving to places like Vietnam where they could pay trafficked workers and child laborers $1 an hour. Or less.

Just like with NAFTA, there’s nothing enforceable in the TPP that would stop the labor abuses. It would facilitate corporations forcing workers from Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Monterrey, Mexico, into competition with 14-year-olds laboring 60-hour-weeks for $1-an-hour in Malaysia.

Just like United Technologies, these corporate CEOs would say it was “strictly business” to offshore American mills, industry that had served as city centers for decades, even centuries, factories so synonymous with towns that the communities took their names like Ambridge (American Bridge) and Hershey, which, by the way, laid off workers at its Pennsylvania home in 2007 and opened a chocolate plant in Monterrey, Mexico.

The AFL-CIO investigation of the TPP determined that it would do nothing more than increase corporate profits while sticking workers—in the United States and elsewhere—with lost jobs, lower wages and repressed rights.

For 22 years NAFTA has destroyed subsistence farming in Mexico and good, middle class factory jobs in the United States. Maybe corporations have made out like bandits. But the banditry should be stopped for the heartache it has caused on both sides of the border.

As Carrier President Nelson told the Indianapolis workers, members of my union, the United Steelworkers, that he was taking their jobs from them so that shareholders and corporate executives could make a few extra bucks, the workers protested. Nelson kept saying, “Quiet down. Let’s quiet down.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what American workers and communities should be doing. They should shouting from rooftops, “No TPP!”  For the love of American manufacturing, they should be yelling bloody murder.

This blog was originally posted on inthesetimes.com on February 24, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Leo Gerard is the president of the United Steelworkers International union, part of the AFL-CIO. Gerard, the second Canadian to lead the union, started working at Inco’s nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario at age 18. For more information about Gerard, visit usw.org.

 

Trade Deals Like TPP Encourage 'Business Decisions' Like This Heartbreaking One from Indianapolis

Friday, February 12th, 2016
Kenneth Quinnell

In this video, workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis react to the company announcing that it will ship 1,400 local jobs to Mexico in what they described as “strictly a business decision.” You can hear the heartbreak and outrage in the voices of the workers who must now scramble to figure out how to take care of their families. Carrier makes heating, air conditioning, ventilation and other systems. The layoffs are scheduled to begin in 2017.

Aside from corporate greed, the main reason that Carrier can get away with something like this is the major flaws that have been built into international trade deals like North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These kinds of deals make sure that these types of tragic moments happen more frequently.

First off, these deals provide companies that want to offshore to trading partners with extraordinary powers and legal rights they do not have under U.S. law–powers and rights that shift the balance of power further away from working people. Second, these deals put U.S. manufacturers in closer competition with foreign companies that pay low wages and don’t respect labor rights. This encourages U.S. companies to offshore in order to keep up with those foreign companies.

The third reason these deals encourage outsourcing is that they fail to level the playing field in terms of taxes. Such a deal could set a minimum level for corporate tax rates or create rules to prevent companies from gaming the tax system and pitting countries against each other. With those options left off the table, a race to the bottom is encouraged, where companies shift jobs to countries with lower tax rates, which, in turn, encourages higher-tax rate countries to lower taxes and the ripple effect those lower rates have on the economy and the government’s goods and services. A trade deal meant to create U.S. jobs would address this.

And lastly, of course, these trade deals eliminate tariffs in the trade zone, further encouraging companies to shift jobs to trade partners because corporations know they can ship goods back into the United States without paying tariffs, thus using the tariff cuts to increase U.S. imports instead of increasing U.S. exports.

This blog originally appeared in aflcio.org on February 11, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Kenneth Quinnell is a long time blogger, campaign staffer, and political activist.  Prior to joining AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as a labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.  He was the past Communications Director for Darcy Burner and New Media Director for Kendrick Meek.  He has over ten years as a college instructor teaching political science and American history.

State of the Union: Don’t Let the TPP Sink Our Wages

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

CD speaking at UCSD FairTrade RallyThe president will give his final State of the Union address tonight. Traditionally, this annual speech reviews the accomplishments of years past and sets out a “to-do” list for the year ahead. Although the White House has indicated that this year’s speech will be “nontraditional,” it has made clear the economy will be a major focus.

I hope the president will talk about the importance of the proposed overtime rule, which could raise wages for some 15 million of America’s working people. I also hope he talks about how the auto manufacturing industry has soared back to life since the so-called bailout, which saved 1.5 million jobs in its first year alone.

While the economy isn’t perfect, and most of us are still feeling the pinch of student loans, too-smallpaychecks, threats to retirement security and not enough voice in our workplaces, there are a lot of successes the president can look back on with pride in his speech.

On the other hand, there is also a new trade and economic deal on the horizon—the Trans-Pacific Partnership—that could poke a hole in the progress our economy has made since the president came in to office in 2009.

The thing that’s dangerous about the TPP, and the reason we should worry about it shrinking our paychecks, is not the idea of trade. Trade is good—but we shouldn’t confuse “trade” with so-called “trade agreements,” which set down rules not just for “trade,” but for food safety, Wall Street regulations, prescription medicines and investor rights. These are the kind of rules that should be made in public, in democratic fashion, not in a secretly negotiated agreement that can’t be amended. The TPP’s corporate giveaways are dangerous.

Existing trade rules (including those in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.–Korea trade deal) already cost the average U.S. worker $1,800 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and preliminary studies on the TPP by Center for Economic and Policy Research and Tufts indicate that we can expect that figure to get worse.

Working people are deeply disappointed that the opportunities to put workers’ interests first and eliminate corporate entitlements in the TPP were largely ignored.  And more importantly, working people are disappointed because we know that all of these things mean fewer good jobs in our communities and fewer opportunities for our children.

The TPP is the latest example of the failed U.S. approach to trade that started with NAFTA, which drives down wages and creates special rights for corporations.  The TPP could have been different, but instead it is a collection of minor tweaks designed to get congressional votes rather than ensure workers’ wages rise.

The AFL-CIO wants trade agreements that grow our economy, create good jobs in America and give working people in all countries the chance to succeed when they work hard. Instead, passage of the TPP will mean lost jobs and lower wages.

Compared to eight years ago, the U.S. economy is afloat and heading toward improvement. The TPP will undermine that progress and give us rocky sailing ahead. There is simply no good argument for trading away our right to control our economy in exchange for more corporate power.

I hope the TPP doesn’t come up at all in the State of the Union speech. We’d be better off without it. But if it does—let’s be clear about what it really means for America’s working families.

Let’s raise our voices against this corporate giveaway and make it clear the TPP must go down to defeat!

This blog appeared on aflico.org on January 12, 2016.  Reprinted with permission.

Celeste Drake is a Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist at AFL-CIO.  Her experience with the labor movement was as a UFCW member while bagging groceries during college.  She also served as the Legislative Director for Representative Linda Sanches (D-CA).

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