The CWA News | No Fast Track, NO TPP: A Fight We Can Win

Volume 74, Issue #4 | Winter 2014

CWA activists and partners are gearing up for the fight of our lives. In the next few weeks, the new Congress will take up the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. We’re standing up and fighting back.

SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR CORPORATIONS

TPP isn’t really about trade. The 29 chapters of TPP cover subjects like intellectual property rights and patents and especially, investor rights. It’s a way to guarantee fat profits for multinational corporations. Every trade deal since NAFTA has guaranteed the profit rate on investment.

How? Through the Investor State Dispute Settlement process, that gives any multinational corporation the right to sue any participating government in a private tribunal, to protect its “future expected profits.”

Multinational corporations can sue if a country raises its minimum wage, like Egypt did, or acts to protect the health of its citizens, like Australia has done. More than $3 billion has been paid out to foreign investors under U.S. trade and investment treaties, while over $14 billion in claims are pending.

We need 21st Century trade deals that work for all of us, not deals that are designed to guarantee the profits of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations.

COMMUNITIES

Trade deals have devastated our communities. In Detroit, for example,  free trade deals resulted in hundreds of auto plants closing, with those jobs going to Mexico and China. Citizens lost their jobs and wages,  they couldn’t afford to buy anything, tax revenues declined, the price of housing dropped, and the city eventually filed for bankruptcy, slashing public services. We can’t afford to have that happen in our cities.

NO MORE BUY AMERICAN

TPP would ban Buy American laws, requirements for nation of origin labeling on food and other provisions. Any law that gives preference to American produced goods and services, from steel for bridge repair to customer service support for state and local governments would be challenged by any nation signing on to TPP. TPP negotiators are giving away billions of dollars in government procurement that has produced good jobs and energized our economy.

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

TPP affects our jobs, our pay, and our total compensation. Management is always comparing the cost of our employment with the cost of moving somewhere else. As one CEO said recently, “It’s like gravity. The low wages and low costs of jobs in Central America and Asia move the jobs out of the U.S. to these low wage countries.”

We’ve had enough of this race to the bottom. We need to stop fast track and TPP now. 

SECRECY

“Why are the trade talks secret? I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.’
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

It’s hard to keep a secret. But U.S. trade negotiators have kept most of the Trans-Pacific Partnership a secret from workers, consumers, environmentalists, even members of Congress for years now, as they keep pushing for a deal.

What we do know of this deal is that investors and multinationals would gain new rights and the ability to challenge U.S. laws; the rest of us will lose out.

Through leaks, we learned that big drug companies are pushing for rules throughout Asia that will raise prices on medicines for consumers and governments. The U.S. wants long monopolies for biotech drugs; that will make the latest cancer-fighting drugs out of reach for millions of people.

We learned that TPP has no mechanism to enforce environmental standards. The environment section is weaker than any language included in a U.S. trade deal since 2007.

U.S. JOBS

For the past 20 years, since the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. has lost millions of jobs. Our trade deficit with other nations is $10 trillion. That’s a lot of lost jobs.

Negotiators promise jobs, but instead, jobs are leaving the country, caused by a flood of imports. TPP is no different. Companies already are lining up to send manufacturing jobs to Vietnam, where the average wage is about 75 cents an hour and there are no worker rights and no environmental standards.

TPP is worse because it will affect service sector jobs too, like call center and information technology work. At least 25 percent of U.S. jobs are tradeable, meaning they can be moved offshore.