Labor, trade, health and environmental Advocates are urging open negotiations, protections for American workers as the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Deal is being negotiated. The Guardian newspaper calls the trade pact the largest in history, “Nafta on Steroids” and “an end run around the US Constitution.”
On the eve of his fifth State of The Union Address, President Barack Obama was urged by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and a broad coalition of progressive organizations to ensure that strong, enforceable labor, health and environmental protections are included as part of the largest “free” trade agreement ever negotiated by the U.S. The president most likely doesn’t care about these issues since the current negotiations will likely send 200,000 low paying textile jobs in El Salvador to lower paying Vietnam. This will cause tens of thousands of US textile workers to lose their jobs since many US textile workers manufacture thread, fabric and yarn and export them to El Salvador. About 2 percent of all US manufacturing exports are textiles. Vietnamese textile firms, on the other hand, get their thread, fabric and yarn from Chinese businesses. So Chinese workers will likely get American jobs, while Vietnamese workers get the jobs of 200,000 people in El Salvador. Good job President Obama! The difference between the old wages in El Salvador and the new lower wages in Vietnam will go into the pockets of rich shareholders. The same holds true of the US jobs that will be lost to China. In other words, the TPP is another income redistribution scam, just like all the rest.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently is being negotiated in secret among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Roughly 600 corporate lobbyists have access to the negotiations and nobody else does, not even Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, and one of Wall Street’s fiercest warriors in their financial plundering and rape of the middle class.
“Unless President Obama insists on strict standards of openness and iron-clad protections for American workers, the TPP will likely become the biggest and most destructive free trade agreement we’ve ever seen,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. “This agreement will provide even more incentives for corporations to off-shore U.S. manufacturing and service jobs to countries like Vietnam which pay extremely low wages and suppress workers’ rights. Also, it could lead to lower wages and benefits in the U.S. as the remaining U.S. employers are forced to compete with these low wage countries. These same incentives will further erode labor rights, health and environmental protections among all participants. It would be part of a global race to the bottom that only benefits multi-national corporations.”
Collins noted that CWA and the other organizations support fair trade, but not the giveaway of jobs that has been the outcome of previous agreements, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the entry of China into the World Trade Organization. The current TPP process has given corporate lobbyists access to all negotiating documents, while the public is shut out of any discussion.
“We will only support trade agreements that secure fundamental labor rights for workers and fundamental protections for our health and environment in America and abroad,” Collins said.
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