- The Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Impact of Free Trade Policy in Washington State
- Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (AKA TPP)
- SweatFree Washington
- Trade Stories Project
- Support the TRADE ACT
- Activist Links
US Trade Representative Michael Froman visited Washington State on Tuesday, August 12 as part of his cross-country tour promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). His full day in the Evergreen State included visiting a Boeing factory, holding a roundtable on agriculture, and speaking at the Washington Council on International Trade. Washington Fair Trade Coalition had the opportunity to join regional labor leaders in a meeting with Ambassador Froman Tuesday afternoon, moderated by Rep. Adam Smith and attended by Rep. Derek Kilmer.
Labor leaders left the meeting unconvinced that the TPP would do enough to protect workers’ rights. They called for new trade policies to reverse the 20-year race to the bottom started with NAFTA, which has shipped living-wage jobs overseas, eroded wages, and weakened job security.
“Our reality is, in the last 15 years every mill in Washington State that has either closed completely or has been downsized, the equipment gets dismantled, then shipped overseas and brought back online producing the very same products that we used to make in America,” Greg Pallesen, Vice President of the Association of the Western Pulp and Paper Workers, told Ambassador Froman at the meeting.
Angela Marshall, with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 46, added “Our members don’t export, but we are affected just like all workers. When some workers are making $0.40 an hour, standards go down for all of us. We’ve performed this grand experiment, where we were promised that trade agreements will raise labor standards around the world, and it hasn’t worked.”
At the meeting, Ambassador Froman argued that progress has been made in the last few years, while acknowledging that we have a long way to go. He assured labor leaders, “You should feel that labor is at the table. There is no group, industry, or civil society group I meet with more.” He also observed that 20 years ago labor interests were side agreements, while now they are built into trade agreements and enforceable by the same mechanisms as commercial rights. “Through these agreements… we are pursuing what I am convinced will the most progressive set of trade agreements in history.”
Labor sees it differently. Lynne Dodson, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, observes, “Access does not equate to influence.” Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO and a member of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) on Trade Policy and Negotiations, expanded on this in a letter to Congress earlier this year. He wrote, “Over the course of the several years of negotiations for the TPP, the LAC has provided scores, if not hundreds, of specific suggestions… few, if any, of these suggestions appear likely to be incorporated into the now almost completed agreement.”
The complete secrecy of these negotiations further short-circuits political engagement. Trumka continues, “Because we cannot share what little we do know with our membership or the larger public, we cannot use the traditional tools that civil society uses to offset the power of economic elites: education, organization, and mobilization of the public.”
Together, these trade agreements would set global standards for labor, environmental, public health, and other critical public policy areas.
“This may be our last chance to get trade right for a generation or two,” says the Washington Fair Trade Coalition’s Gillian Locascio. “Since NAFTA, corporate interests have been writing the rules and our families and communities are suffering for it. Labor and the rest of civil society are saying loud and clear – we need a new, accountable, transparent process that puts public interests on equal footing with investor interests.”
Press release HERE.
Fair Trade not Free Trade: Community Forum on TPP
Saturday, June 28, 3-5 PM
Downtown Branch, Tacoma Public Library (Olympic Room)
Sponsors: * Washington Fair Trade Coalition * Pierce County Central Labor Council * Sierra Club Tatoosh Group * One America * St. Leo’s Social Justice Commission * Fair Trade Market Committee *
How will the TPP impact you as a worker, a consumer, and a community member? Join Tacoma community groups as we come together to educate and mobilize each other around the largest, most secretive free trade agreement (FTA) in history: the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
For four years, the US has been negotiating the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement behind closed doors. Until recently not even Congress could see the negotiating texts, but some 600 corporate lobbyists can. What are they proposing in our names?
What’s On the Table:
- Flooding the U.S. with unsafe food and other consumer products
- Increasing drug prices, decreasing access to medicine
- Bans on “Buy American” policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy
- Freeing Wall Street from oversight
- Empowerment of corporations to attack environment and health safeguards
Who’s at the Table:
- Walmart-Encouraging suppression of labor and environmental standards in the countries in which they do business. Enabling retaliation and murder of labor organizers in their supply chain
- Zyomogenetics-owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb, major player in Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), putting intellectual property rights and patents ahead of global health by reducing access to generic medicines.
- Cargill-advocating for profits over healthy food, eager to dump inexpensive food on developing countries in the name of ‘food security,’ and destruction of forests to create massive, monoculture palm oil farms.
This free and open forum will feature a panel discussion, Q&A, and opportunities for action. Panelists include:
*Dean McGrath, President, International Longshore Workers Union, on job loss and lowered labor protections due to existing trade agreements.
*Robin Everett, Organizing Representative, on how international trade agreements impact environmental regulations.
*Jeff Panek, local activist, WAmend Coalition, on how big money in our elections impacts the US and our trading partners.
*Gillian Locascio, Campaign Coordinator, Washington Fair Trade Coalition, on fair trade principles and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Together, we can raise our voices for a trade policy for the 21st century, one that increases trade and also protects workers, communities, and the environment.
Inspired to take action? Join us at one of our Independence Rallies at the offices to tell your US Congressional Representative, no back room deals for the 1%! We the People want representation in the trade policies that will re-write our domestic laws and impact our lives. Learn more about our upcoming events here.
Main rally: Noon, Monday, June 30, Offices of Derek Kilmer, 950 Pacific Ave.
1:30 PM, Monday, June 30, Offices of Denny Heck, 6000 Main St. SW, Lakewood
Noon, Tuesday, July 1, Offices of Adam Smith, 101 Evergreen Building, 15 S Grady Way, Renton
Last week, a letter asking for stronger labor protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership was co-signed by 153 members of the House of Representatives, with leadership from U.S. House Representatives Adam Smith and Jim McDermott.
The letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman described the history of failed promises on labor rights and called for special attention to countries like Vietnam where workers have faced extraordinary abuses. Drawing on these experiences, the letter made a case that once a trade agreement passed by Congress, all leverage to improve labor conditions was lost, and asked the USTR to insist that such countries implement the labor laws and practices negotiated in the agreement before Congress takes up TPP for consideration.
Notably, Representatives Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck chose not to sign the letter, despite having signed on to a similar letter seeking strong controls in TPP against currency manipulation and one proposing strong environmental protections in the TPP. All 10 Washington House members (Republicans and Democrats) co-sponsored an earlier letter protecting US cheese and dairy products in TTIP – the trade agreement being negotiated with the European Union.
Please call and thank Jim McDermott and Adam Smith for standing up for labor in trade negotiations.
Take any chance you have to remind Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen that the environment, currency manipulation, dairy products AND labor rights deserve high priority in our trade policies. We don’t need another trade deal that puts investor rights above public interest.
**Update: Rep. DelBene has written her own letter to USTR expressing her concern for protecting labor standards in the TPP. Rep. DelBene, thank you for joining the majority who have spoken out on this important issue. **
Promises from free trade advocates have fallen short time after time. The burden of proof has now shifted to US Trade negotiators. Our elected officials need to get binding enforceable labor protections in writing before any vote on TPP.
Find your Representative’s contact information here.
See the full Dear Colleague letter: Dear Colleague letter to USTR on Labor Protections in the TPP.
On May 6, as the light waned, groups gathered in Olympia and Seattle to protest the shadowy process and excessive secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations. It was the culmination of a national Spring Campaign, in which petitions against TPP secrecy, Fast-Track, and the media blackout had been circulated internationally and the numbers of signees beamed onto prominent buildings in D.C. each night. The following day, activists would converge on D.C. to call on the government to end the backroom deals and restore accountability to the negotiations of what would be the biggest free-trade agreement ever signed by the United States.
After a briefing on the status of this massive trade agreement and where local representatives stand by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Backbone Campaign taught a short course in how to use light as protest and introduced us to the equipment. For an hour, as people strolled nearby and cars rushed down the freeway, we illuminated prominent buildings with messages against the TPP and directed people to learn more and call their representatives.
Check out our photo album from the actions!
You have ruthless buyers sitting in the U.S. who don’t care what you do, as long as you do it on time… We take a hit every time we’re late. That means lost margins. That means we do what we need to do to make our orders, fast. This factory owner may have been working extra shifts just for that purpose…
–Ali Ahmad, Owner of Nizam Textiles in Karachi, Pakistan1
“Death Trap Factories in Pakistan,”
by National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
“Pakistan Factory Fires Tied to Criminal Negligence by Government and Employers,”
by Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan
More than 300 trapped workers were killed in two separate fires on the same day—289 workers in an apparel factory in Karachi and 25 workers in a shoe factory in Lahore—a day Nasir Mansoor, leader of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF)—calls the “darkest and saddest day in the history of Pakistan’s labor movement.”
The conditions in the Karachi and Lahore factories were reportedly typical of garment factories in Pakistan, and the risk of fire is equally high in many other facilities. Alarmingly, apparel factory fires appear to be increasingly globalized. For many years, we heard mostly about fires in Bangladesh where more than 100 reported factory fires since 1990 have killed more than 750 workers. Now, fires in Pakistan are being reported, and just one day after the Pakistani fires, a fire in a Moscow sweatshop killed 14 Vietnamese immigrants who were trapped behind a door that was locked and barred with a sledgehammer from the outside.2
The horror of this Pakistani fire is yet one more wake-up call for the brands and retailers that cheap products come at a steep price for workers—an unconscionably steep price.
For the complete statement by the International Labor Rights Forum visit: http://laborrightsblog.typepad.com/international_labor_right/2012/09/deadly-denim-workers-burned-alive-making-jeans-for-export.html
Cargill, GlaxoSmithKline, News Corp, Nike and Wal-Mart are just a few of the huge corporations whose voices will be heard by Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators during the 14th round of negotiations that just opened in Leesburg, Virginia.
Project your voice this weekend, too! Click here to find out how.
Email/tweet your comments & Citizen’s Trade Campaign will project them on a large screen inside the resort where negotiators are meeting this Sunday, September 9th. And in the spirit of open dialogue, they are inviting negotiators to post their responses in real time!
What do you want negotiators to hear?
Release the Texts! No More NAFTAs! Don’t Offshore good-paying jobs! Stop attacking environmental and consumer safety policies! More not less regulations on Wall Street! Stop, displacing family farmers! Extend access to generic medicines! Internet Neutrality!! Food Sovereignty! Democracy in US Trade Policy! Don’t undermine US labor laws & environmental regulations! No special tribunals for foreign investors!
Take Action Now!
Tweet at: #opentpp
Are you in the mid-Atlantic region this weekend? Be a part of the TPP: Out of the Shadows! Rally for Good Jobs, Affordable Medicine and a Healthy Environment taking place in Leesburg, Virginia on Sunday, September 9th.
Responding to an IBEW Local 46 resolution demanding that he write a letter calling for greater transparency in the TransPacific Partnership negotiations or face losing his endorsement by the WSLC, Rep. McDermott sided with Labor and did the right thing!
Rep. McDermott sent a letter advocating for USTR to release summaries of what is being negotiated to civil society, more significant involvement of labor, social justice and environmental groups in advising USTR throughout the negotiations, and more access to the draft texts by members of Congress!
IBEW took this strong action because Rep. McDermott has consistently voted for bad trade agreements which have cost IBEW nationally over 300,000 jobs in off-shored manufacturing.
“Getting Rep. Mcdermott to take action was a victory for Labor. IBEW thanks the Congressman for being responsive, Lynne Dodson (WSLC/WFTC) for helping broker the deal and the WFTC for raising our member’s consciousness on trade issues so that we had the wherewithall to make the Resolution. I stress we have a long way to got to stop the TPP.” Nicole Grant, WSAEW Statewide Political Coordinator
Shannon Hagen, Business Rep & Organizer for IBEW Local 46 and WFTC Boardmember, also spoke to the resolution: “Brothers and Sisters, make no mistake, our intention is to STOP the TPP! The intention (of this resolution) was to create a conversation, to start actually demanding the accountability we all talk about but never get from our politicians. To get REAL measurable actions from our elected officials. For us as a body to elect Leaders that Lead, not just follow.”
The WFTC as a whole shares in this game-changing victory! Well done everyone!
Making TPP as infamous as WTO-The WFTC’s Trade Justice event with Lori Wallach gets coverage in KPLU’s Humanosphere!!!
Seattle activists seek to make TPP as well-known – and infamous – as WTO
It’s usually not a good idea to have two acronyms in a headline, or anywhere near each other.
Bear with me.
Boring acronyms — like WTO — sometimes represent and often disguise hugely political and complex issues of great importance.
Most of us know that jargon and acronyms are standard tools used by politicians, bureaucrats and corporations to obfuscate, discourage public scrutiny or cause your brain to seize up.
Here’s a new one of those potential brain-freezers: TPP, aka the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
It’s about almost everything and anything that can be bought or sold. What it will cost, where it will be made, who benefits. As one writer in Slate noted, it’s being done mostly in secret.
So the activist community, especially some of the old Seattle WTO protest gang, is now gearing up to ‘raise awareness’ of the TPP.
You probably haven’t heard of the TPP and would prefer not to hear more. But if you want to know why your prescription drugs could cost more, what a global “corporate tribunal” will be or at least sound smart and cool within the activist set, read on ….
WTO used to be obscure and wonky, too. Before 1999, few in the public were aware of WTO, the World Trade Organization, an international organization that sets (or tries to set) the rules for international commerce.
After the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle, which spawned massive street protests, many if not most people today (certainly in Seattle) have at least some idea of what the organization does and why it can be controversial.
The Battle in Seattle was billed, simplistically, as the culmination of the American ‘anti-globalization’ movement. It sounds stupid today to be anti-global. The protests weren’t really against globalization, I would argue, so much as they were for things like fair trade, environmental protection, corporate transparency, human and worker rights and so on.
A big point of the protests was about the poor world’s outrage at exploitative trade practices mostly benefiting the wealthy nations.
“The way to think of TPP is that it’s WTO on crack,” said Lori Wallach, an activist with Public Citizen. Wallach was in Seattle Monday night to speak at a gathering of global do-gooders, fair-traders and WTO protest veterans gathered at, of all places, the Queen Anne office of an investment management firm.
At first glance, the gathering at Newground Social Investment might prompt some snide remark about wine & cheese Seattle liberals. They did have a lot of wine and cheese and, presumably, liberals.
But the co-founders of Newground, Bruce Herbert and Larry Dohrs, in addition to being financial investment guys, were gassed by the police during the WTO protests and have remained active in a number of local causes. They now seek to work within the financial system to push for social and political change, while still enjoying a good protest when they can.
“We like to say we’re money managers and investment provocateurs,” said Herbert, who with Dohrs and others recently succeeded in getting legal status for an innovative new kind of business entity, the social purpose corporation. Interesting guys, but that’s another story….
The point here is that some powerful folks within the Seattle do-gooder community think the TPP (what’s been leaked about it anyway) appears to be bad for most people and bad for lots of business as well. So they hosted this event, sponsored by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, featuring Wallach, an expert on global trade. Members of the fair trade group and a local labor union rep also spoke.
“Most of the TPP is not actually about trade,” said Wallach. Of the 28 chapters in the proposed trade agreement, she said only two actually pertain to trade.
The rest of this international agreement being negotiated behind closed doors, Wallach said, tends to be concentrated on things like requiring all participating countries to agree to longer-lasting drug patents, to reducing regulatory restrictions on corporations on many fronts including the ‘outsourcing’ of jobs and governments ability to regulate corporations.
“This agreement would actually set up a parallel court system, of corporate tribunals run by corporations but paid for by taxpayers,” Wallach explained. “We would call it a kangaroo court if it wasn’t such an insult to marsupials.”
Remember SOPA, she asked the crowd? The Stop Online Piracy Act sounded at face value like a good thing, much as it sounds nice to have a ‘trans-pacific partnership,’ Wallach said. But parts of SOPA turned out to be very consumer-unfriendly and, fortunately for consumers, it was also viewed as very unfavorable to a lot of big corporate players online such as Google. So it got killed.
“The TPP, so far as we can tell, just puts all that back in,” Wallach said. “It’s the ultimate corporate power trip. This is so far-reaching and grandiose, it should be easy to stop. But it’s going to require that people become aware of what’s going on.”
Seattle, she said, played a critical role in limiting the potentially harmful actions of WTO by raising public awareness through protest. Wallach said she hopes this community will again play a leadership role again and make TPP a household word — if not a movie starring Chalize Theron. The health and welfare of billions of people around the world may depend upon it, she said.
“We need to drag this thing into the sunshine and tell people what it will really mean to them and how it will affect their lives,” Wallach said.
Come welcome renowned activist & trade expert Lori Wallach
for a lively evening of insights into the making of US trade policy.
Lori will focus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Join the WFTC and Newground Social Investment in support of trade justice in WA state!
Monday, August 6th
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Newground Social Investment
2206 Queen Anne Ave N, Suite 402 Seattle, WA 98109
Libations & appetizers provided
Then Lori is traveling to Wenatchee, WA for a day of panels and workshops focused on Trade, Human Trafficking and Migration. Come join us at the WSLC Convention!
Tuesday, August 7th
9:30AM & 1:00PM
Washington State Labor Council Convention
Biography: Lori Wallach is a Harvard-trained trade lawyer who promotes the public interest in globalization and international commercial agreements. With abundant humor, intelligence and energy, Lori “translates” trade legalese into relevant, accessible language that connects people’s lived experiences and empowers diverse participation.
Lori has testified before more than 20 U.S. congressional committees on trade and globalization matters. She has served as a trade commentator on CNN, ABC, CNBC, C-SPAN, CNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, PBS, NPR, and numerous foreign outlets. Her most recent book is Whose Trade Organization? A Comprehensive Guide to the WTO (The New Press, 2004). Lori has also contributed to numerous anthologies including the International Forum on Globalization’s Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible.
Please RSVP to Kristen@washingtonfairtrade.org
On Friday, July 20th, WFTC and SPEEA hosted AWPPW, IAM 751, IBEW Local 46, IBEW Local 77, MLK County Labor Council, Newground Social Investment, the Seattle Education Association, the Sierra Club, USW District 12, WA Physicians for Social Responsibility, Witness for Peace NW and WA State Senator Maralyn Chase for an exchange with Deputy USTR Marantis.
WFTC reminded USTR to learn from past failed trade policies that have seriously cost WA state jobs, eroded small family farms, subjected cities and WA state to the risk of investor-state law suits-challenging our sovereign laws, hurt real ‘investors’ trying to hold on to their homes and education their families, and prioritized corporate interests over state programs.
We gave Deputy USTR a going away gift to remember WHAT WASHINGTONIANS WANT in a 21st CENTURY TRADE POLICY!!!
No SWEATSHOP LABOR!! LABEL GMO FOODS!! PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT!! FOOD SOVEREIGNTY FOR ALL!! STOP EXPORTING UNHEALTHY FOOD!!! HEALTHY FOOD IS A RIGHT!! LIVING WAGES!! DON’T PATENT MY HEALTH!!