Fast Track is the Wrong Track
US corporate interests have traded the wealth and treasure of our nation for cheap labor and sky-high, tax free profits. As the global market place expands, protecting American jobs and American workers will be the biggest challenge of our time.
Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and the creation of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), Americans have seen one out of every four jobs leave our shores. In the 20 years since, the median household income is at roughly the level earned in the 1970’s, even though Americans have never been more productive.
In September of 2014, nearly 600 groups joined together to send a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. to oppose Fast Track legislation. Read the letter here.
Let your voice be heard! Tell Senator Wyden how you feel about Fast-Track and the TPP.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement Is Not Good For America
Lack of Transparency
Currently, our Government is involved in the trade negotiation process for a new agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (“TPP”) undertaken by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea. This so-called “free trade” agreement is being conducted in closed door sessions, with no involvement from Congress because of a policy known as “Fast Track,” which gives the President broad powers to negotiate terms of trade agreements, including terms, trade partners, and procedural rules, without the consent of Congress. This undemocratic policy was enacted during the Nixon Administration and has been utilized by Republican and Democratic administrations alike to conceal negotiation details from the American public.
Big banks, oil and mining interests, and agribusiness have joined together to brand the TPP negotiations as “trade” related, though they are in fact, a move to sidestep important consumer protections and industry regulations with the sole purpose of stripping the rights of all American workers and driving wages to an all-time low. These conditions will surely provide corporations with even more of an incentive to ship our jobs overseas.
If passed, the TPP has the potential to:
- Offshore millions of American jobs and lower our wages
- Ban Buy America & Buy Local policies used to reinvest tax dollars into our communities
- Require the U.S. to provide equal access to the bidding arena on government construction and other contracts to any country signatory to this agreement, including Chinese military firms operating in Vietnam,
- Flood us with unsafe, unregulated imported food and products
- Provide grounds for foreign corporations to attack our domestic laws before tribunals of corporate lawyers, and demand unlimited taxpayer dollars as compensation
- Increase medicine prices
- Fuel more financial speculation and roll back the regulation of banks and securities
Under the terms of the TPP, businesses operating in signatory countries will be able to bid for government contracts on equal terms with any American contractor. For example, Chinese military contractors who have subsidiaries in Vietnam will have the same opportunities to bid for IT contracts, construction contracts and services contracts in the same bidding arena as American contractors. In this scenario, American workers will be in direct competition with workers from a country where labor unions are illegal and wages are as little as one third of what Chinese workers are paid. When we make it easier for corporations to send our manufacturing, processing and service related jobs to countries who have no safety protections for workers, no collective bargaining rights, little to no environmental protections, pay sub-substandard wages, we make it virtually impossible for legitimate American companies to compete on equal terms for any work.
If negotiated, this agreement has the potential to effect more than labor. It reaches deep into all aspects of American life – our ability to set Buy American protections, control prescription costs, and regulate the financial industry to stop the practice of over speculation in the risky financial products that set the stage for the 2008 market crash. Over time, this agreement will affect our economy more broadly. As more and more manufacturing moves overseas, less skilled labor is required to build and maintain these facilities. Less working people making contributions to our tax base will mean fewer construction related jobs as well as service sector, healthcare and education employment.
For agreements to be truly “fair” they must include environmental and labor protections to set standards of excellence for all signatory nations. The TPP is not about fair and free trade – it’s about the race to the bottom in wages, worker protections, safety regulations and environmental protections – all in service to Big Business.
Trade is an issue that should matter to all of us because it has the potential to affect each and every one of us in all aspects of our daily life. But getting the jump on this topic is quite frankly, a complicated maze of information. It’s set up to be confusing in the hopes that the average citizen will be overwhelmed and not demand accountability from our government.