Congress is considering new legislation that would “Fast Track” new trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), moving them through Congress more quickly by limiting the transparency, accountability and oversight necessary for such trade deals to serve America’s working families rather than extreme corporate interests. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Fast Track legislation, and the AFL-CIO has launched a petition calling on Congress to oppose this undemocratic and anti-worker legislation. While proponents of these trade deals often make bold promises about the benefits of such agreements, in reality they do little more than increase trade deficits and hurt America’s working families.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently made it clear how strongly the labor federation opposed Fast Track:
The Trade Promotion Authority bill submitted today by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch is out of date, poorly conceived and bad for American workers. For that reason, the AFL-CIO opposes this legislation in the strongest of terms and will actively work to block its passage.
As we’ve seen previously, such deals increase our trade deficits and they often do so at the detriment of not only the American economy, but the rights of workers in the countries we trade with. The North American Free Trade Agreement alone has led to the displacement of 700,000 jobs. Workers in countries like Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Jordan and Bahrain have been the targets of detention, persecution, threats and murder. These deals frequently lead to increased corporate profits and control of the world economy and less and less life, liberty and happiness pursuit for workers.
Working families and their advocates are standing up against these trade deals and things like Fast Track that make these deals less democratic and accountable to the people. In New York, a group of lawmakers and union and environmental activists took to the steps of City Hall to protest Fast Track.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said that the TPP proposal “will not provide adequate transparency, accountability or oversight. It fails to protect American workers and American jobs.” Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) echoed those sentiments: “Fast-tracking is simply a way in my opinion, of doing things without Congress really knowing about it. We’re always told that these trade agreements will create jobs and a better environment, and then five years later we find out it’s not true.”
UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.