The CWA News | Make the Connection: New Alliances Get Results in Fighting Against TPP

Volume 75, Issue #4 | Winter 2015

No TPPIn Arizona, activists convinced Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to change her vote from "yes" to "no" on Fast Track. It's just the beginning for an unprecedented grassroots partnership in that state.

Yolanda Bejarano, legislative/coalition director for CWA Local 7019, and Michael Brady, chair of the Sierra Club Palo Verde Group, helped build the DI coalition to fight TPP.

Question: What strategies helped unite so many different voices -- GMO Free Arizona, Puente Arizona, Sierra Club, Local First Arizona, Climate Healers -- in the fight against the TPP?

BEJERANO: The most important strategy was to understand how the interests of labor and these groups align. That meant I had to show up to their meetings, learn about their goals and make a sincere effort to advance their causes. I got to know their members and it soon became clear how much we all have in common. We are all fighting against the same corporate adversaries. It's a natural fit.

Question: Why did environmentalists get involved in this issue?

BRADY: To address climate disruption, we need to fully embrace clean energy and stop the use and export of coal, oil and gas. The TPP would threaten our ability to make these changes. TPP negotiations had been closed to the public, but open to select corporate executives. We want to protect the environment we all live in, and regulations should not be dismantled by this bad deal.

Question: How did you feel when you heard that Sinema would be a "no" vote?

BEJERANO: It felt amazing! It reinforced my belief that a true grassroots campaign is impossible for any politician to ignore.

Question: Next steps for this united group?

BEJERANO: We're still working on the TPP because the fight isn't over. We're also working on voter registration and the Fight for $15.

BRADY: I hope this coalition will continue to work on issues that protect people and the environment we all live in!