Teamsters Call for Defeat of Fast Track and TPP

by James P. Hoffa

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[Ed. note:  Leaders of the U.S. labor movement are unanimously opposed to the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Along with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and CWA President Larry Cohen, IBT General President James Hoffa has been a vocal critic of anti-worker “trade legislation.”  Even though even a united labor movement by itself may not be able to prevail against the unholy alliance of President Obama, the mainstream Republican and Democratic party leaderships, and the Business Roundtable and America Chamber of Commerce, a large and diverse coalition of progressive political movements, citizens’ action, religious and environmental groups has been mobilizing alongside organize labor to oppose Fast Track and the TPP]

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has for years been shrouded in mystery. But last night, WikiLeaks gave U.S. workers a real gift when it pulled back the curtain on a portion of the proposed trade deal that shows what a boondoggle the agreement would be for big business.

Language included in the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter of the TPP would grant new rights to companies to challenge limitations and exceptions to copyrights, patents and other intellectual property. That means corporations could sue the U.S. or other countries included in the deal if they didn’t like their laws. Such challenges would be handled by an unaccountable international arbitration forum. And taxpayers would end up paying the tab if the private sector wins.

Companies are already challenging governments around the globe when they feel elected officials are holding down their profit margins. Tobacco giant Philip Morris, for instance, is currently appealing Uruguay’s regulation of advertising on cigarette packages because it believes the nation’s rules are tamping down on sales in that South American country. But the TPP language would make it worse.

Trade experts agree the ISDS provisions would be very bad news for the public. “With the veil of secrecy ripped back, finally everyone can see for themselves that the TPP would give multinational corporations extraordinary new powers that would undermine our sovereignty, expose U.S. taxpayers to billions in new liability and privilege foreign firms operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law,” said Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

An analysis of the ISDS text by Public Citizen shows, among other things:

  • Foreign investors would be allowed to challenge new policies that apply to both domestic and international corporations on the grounds that they undermine foreign investors’ “expectations” of how they should be treated.
  • The amount that an ISDS tribunal would order a government to pay to a foreign investor as compensation would be based on the “expected future profits.”
  • There are no new safeguards that limit ISDS tribunals’ discretion to create even broader interpretations of governments’ obligations to foreign investors and order compensation on that basis.

In short, the ISDS language shows that based on this TPP chapter alone, the average worker is going to get screwed. The provisions will give corporations the ability to do an end-around on U.S. laws they don’t like. How is that fair? What about the rights of the American people? What about democracy?

Mind you, this doesn’t even address how Americans will be hammered by the other 28 chapters included in this Pacific Rim trade deal. But we already know they will. We’ve seen what NAFTA has done; we’ve seen what the recent U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement has done. Those two deals together have led to more than a million lost U.S. jobs.

Previous leaks have also let us know that lower wages, unsafe food and products, lessened environmental standards and reduced access to affordable medicines will result if the TPP becomes a reality. It’s why the Teamsters and our numerous allies have taken a stand against this terrible trade agreement. And it’s why we can’t let up now.

Want to stop this from happening? Let your members of Congress know you oppose fast-track trade authority. Forcing Capitol Hill to debate this agreement in the open on its merits is the only way hard-working Americans will be able to get a full picture of what the TPP will do. And it’s the best opportunity we have to halt TPP in its tracks.

James P, Hoffa is General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  His statement is reblogged from the Huffington Post with the permission of the IBT.

Scott Walker Signs Right to Break Unions Law

by Laura Clawson

Surprising no one, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an anti-union law Monday that, during his re-election campaign, he’d repeatedly said he wasn’t interested in passing:
In his gubernatorial re-election bid last fall, Walker also downplayed the possibility of such a measure passing.
Walker said in September he was “not supporting it in this (2015) session.”

“We’re not going to do anything with right-to-work,” Walker told The New York Times in October.

Fitzgerald announced he would be introducing the legislation on Feb. 20 and Walker said he would sign it that same day. Continue reading

Lets Debate the TPP !

Robert Reich, Richard Trumka

A summit with leaders of the member states of ...

A summit with leaders of the member states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP). Wikipedia.

This spring, President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago — a rule called “fast track” — to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments. And fast track would be used to speed passage of the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal.

If you haven’t heard much about the TPP, that’s part of the problem. It would be the largest trade deal in history — involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and about 40% of the world economy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership won’t deliver jobs or curb China’s power
The Trans-Pacific Partnership won’t deliver jobs or curb China’s power
Yet it’s been devised in secret, with a disproportionate amount of advice coming from corporations and Wall Street. This secrecy is the norm since NAFTA. Most of the details that are known to the public have come through WikiLeaks. Instead, we’d like to see the negotiating texts made public, so there can be an honest and open debate. Continue reading

Illinois Governor Acts to Curb Public Sector Unions

CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Republican who has often criticized public sector unions, took his first step toward curbing their power on Monday by announcing an executive order that would bar unions from requiring all state workers to pay the equivalent of dues.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/us/illinois-governor-bruce-rauner-acts-to-curb-power-of-public-sector-unions.html?_r=0

Stop Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership!

by Paul Garver

Video produced by MoveOn and posted here at the request of the Communication Workers of America (CWA)
A good short primer from Robert Reich on the need to stop Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a project of the Obama administration fervently desired by big business, supported by Republicans, and would lock in corporate control over the global economy against the interests of workers and consumers.  It has been negotiated behind doors closed to all citizens except 500 corporate lobbyists.  “Fast-Track” Trade Promotion Authority would permit the agreement to be speedily voted up or down by Congress without adequate debate or the possibility of amendment.
CWA and MoveOn have partnered in a petition against Fast Track and the TPP, which you can read and sign at  http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-congress-we-cant?source=c.em&r_by=4842589

If Labor Dies- What is Next ?

David Rolf. SEIU.

[if you see Tefere Gebre either watch the entire panel or  go to the playlist tab, and click on video 3. I have been unable to change this]

The American Labor Movement at a Crossroads. – Session 1

Co sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, the AFT, the Hillman Foundation and others.

The American labor movement is at a critical juncture. After three decades of declining union density in the private sector and years of all-out political assaults on public sector unions, America’s unions now face what can only be described as existential threats. Strategies and tactics that may have worked in a different era are no longer adequate to today’s challenges. The need for different approaches to the fundamentals of union work in areas such as organizing, collective bargaining and political action is clear. The purpose of this conference is to examine new thinking and new  initiatives, viewing them critically in the light of ongoing union imperatives of cultivating member activism and involvement, fostering democratic self-governance and building the collective power of working people. Jan.15, 2015.

Continue reading

State of Our Unions – Secretary Thomas E. Perez

American Labor at the Crossroads Conference;  Jan. 15, 2015.

Co sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, the AFT, the Hillman Foundation and others.

[If when you start you see Randi Weingarten of the AFT, then click on the lower margin where it says playlist. The second video is of Perez.  Weingarten is good also.  I was unable to separate these.]

The US  labor movement is at a critical juncture. After three decades of declining union density in the private sector and years of all-out political assaults on public sector unions, America’s unions now face what can only be described as existential threats. Strategies and tactics that may have worked in a different era are no longer adequate to today’s challenges. The need for different approaches to the fundamentals of union work in areas such as organizing, collective bargaining and political action is clear. The purpose of this conference is to examine new thinking and new  initiatives, viewing them critically in the light of ongoing union imperatives of cultivating member activism and involvement, fostering democratic self-governance and building the collective power of working people. Jan.15, 2015.

Sit down, watch, educate yourself.

The conference has a number of leaders, including major DSA activists and former DSA leaders, to understand the reality of unions today and organizing the working class. Watch each of the sessions here.

http://www.shankerinstitute.org/labor-conference/

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