Publication of the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on November 5 drew an immediate denunciation from the Steelworkers union, which said that the union is “unalterably opposed to the TPP because it’s a dagger twisting in the heart of American manufacturing.” Along the same line, the Machinists union deplored the pact, stating that the TPP “represents a new low of our nation’s trade agenda. Despite its rhetoric, this deal represents a step backward to efforts to achieve effective labor standards and human rights.”
Meanwhile the United Auto Workers union emphasized that it is emphatically opposed to including Japan in the TPP because this “would undermine our nation’s ongoing economic recovery.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “They haven’t done anything at all on Mexico. We’re upset with the entire labor standards.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers union is upset as well. In fact, it noted, “Since last spring, the UFCW has been fighting against the passage of the TPP, a trade deal that will leave consumers with less to spend, raise the cost of health care and eliminate American jobs…Altogether, this massive trade agreement would cover 40 percent of the word’s economic output and effectively roll back any regulation that could be construed a ‘barrier to trade,’ including environmental, consumer, and labor protections.”
Confronted with labor’s opposition, the Obama administration is nevertheless plowing ahead to win Congressional adoption of TPP, counting on support of the corporate class and the Republican Party, with many Democratic legislators having joined the parade. We saw that when a number of Democrats voted for Fast Track and helped to secure its approval. As a result, the TPP will now receive a “yes” or “no” vote in Congress with no amendments allowed.
The November 5 publication of the details of the TPP—with its myriad sections, sub-sections, annexes, and appendixes—kicks off a 90-day review period before the TPP can advance.
This does not mean that a vote will take place immediately after the 90-days. But it could happen!
Obama’s goal is to get the vote taken as quickly as possible because he fears that the longer the process is dragged out, the greater the opportunity for opponents to comb through the tens of thousands of words in the TPP and expose its other vulnerabilities.
The Labor Fightback Network recently posted a statement on the TPP, pointing out why we feel adoption of the TPP would be catastrophic. This follow-up is designed to recommend a program of action to ensure the TPP’s defeat.
Building Independent Coalitions at all Levels
We urge the formation of local coalitions in every state or congressional district uniting labor with environmentalists, retiree groups, people of color communities, progressive student organizations, immigrant rights groups, and other formations dedicated to this struggle. Overseeing the implementation of this undertaking would, ideally, be a national network made up of representatives of labor and the above-named groups.
The key to this campaign would be its independence from the two major corporate parties, with mass mobilization as its central strategy.
Let’s recall labor’s energetic campaign against NAFTA, which fell short of achieving its goal. Unless we turn up the temperature and the militancy this time around, we will likely fail again, and TPP will be adopted.
Whatever the problems of the past, unity of the labor movement is essential now in the face of the TPP challenge. It’s urgent that we act without delay since the 90-days will speed by. It’s high time to draw a line in the sand! We cannot afford to let corporate America and its paid politicians cross that line!