Trade Deal is an Attack on Our Unions

tppprotesters_062315frBy Richard Trumka –
As a dozen nations gather in New Zealand this week to officially sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), working families in the United States are sounding the alarm on a deal that would lower wages and ship even more jobs overseas.

The final text of the agreement, released in November, is even worse than we imagined, with loopholes in labor enforcement and rewards for outsourcing. Like its predecessor agreements NAFTA and CAFTA, the TPP is a giveaway to big corporations, special interests and all those who want economic rules that benefit the wealthy few. It is no wonder the presidential front-runners from both political parties oppose it.

It didn’t have to be this way. The labor movement supports trade. We know that opening up new markets to American products the right way can create jobs and lift up working people. But trade must be done under a fair set of rules that puts people ahead of profits. The TPP fails that test miserably.
From the outset, the AFL-CIO provided detailed and substantive suggestions for improving this agreement and evidence to support our positions. On everything from labor enforcement to investment rules, we offered a path forward. Unfortunately, our policy recommendations were ignored, as were those from the environmental, consumer, public health, global development and manufacturing sectors. That’s what you get from secret
negotiations driven by corporate and investor interests. Continue reading

TPP is Bad for Unions

TPPUrge Congress to Oppose the Just-Signed TPP

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is in New Zealand right now joining other trade ministers from throughout the Pacific Rim in signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Signing is not the same as ratifying. What the signing means is that the negotiations are concluded; the text is done; and that the TPP can now be submitted for a Fast Tracked vote in Congress at almost any time.

It’s critical that Congress is hearing strong constituent opposition to the TPP right now. Please write your Members of Congress and urge them to come out publicly against the TPP.

For the better part of a decade, we have told our representatives we want a “Fair Deal or No Deal” on Trans-Pacific trade. Now that the text is finalized and changes are all-but-impossible, it’s clear that — while a handful of well-connected corporations got a more-than-fair deal for themselves — for everyone else, the TPP would be a disaster for the economy, the environment and public health.

The TPP Is Bad for Jobs & Wages
As you would expect from a deal negotiated with hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and the press were shut out, if enacted, the TPP would offshore good-paying American jobs, lower wages and increase inequality by forcing Americans into competition with highly-exploited workers abroad paid less than 65 cents an hour. Continue reading

Honduras and CAFTA Show Why TPP Must be Opposed

Map of all countries which have ratified the D...

Map of all countries which have ratified the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12/10/2015Brian Finnegan
This week, the governments of Honduras and the United States signed an action plan to begin addressing the widespread failure to enforce labor laws in Honduras. While this is a small step in the right direction, the Honduran government has not fully considered or included workers’ recommendations regarding this Monitoring and Action Plan. The Honduran government, employers and unions have reached consensus on some points, but major issues remain unresolved. The action plan should not have been signed until the parties reached agreement on the draft inspection law that is central to the viability of the action plan.

The plan also stops short of calling for stronger enforcement action should Honduras continue to fail. It is far too early for congratulations. Through such delayed and partial actions, the U.S. government has not acted effectively to defend workers’ rights in Honduras and with other trading partners. Continue reading

Why It Would Be a Mistake for SEIU to Endorse Clinton

Français : Logo SEIU

Français : Logo SEIU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why it would be a tragic mistake for SEIU to endorse HRC at this time.
This letter is being sent to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and members of the IEB.  This is also being cc’d to members of the Board of Directors of SEIU Local 503 in Oregon, the local to which we belong.
Unhappy with the pro-corporate/pro-Wall St. bias of the Democratic Party establishment, of which Hillary Clinton is a major player; early on we have been among the many labor activists calling for Sen. Elizabeth Warren to step up and run for President.
We have long been appreciative of the stances taken by Senator Bernie Sanders on labor issues, and on broader economic and social justice issues.  However, when Sanders first announced his candidacy, many of us were unsure that he could mount a credible national campaign and candidacy.  What has happened since has surprised almost everyone.  The issues and values that we hold near and dear are today at the center of national discussion and in the Presidential debate.  For this, we largely have Senator Bernie Sanders to thank.
We list a number of reasons below why, 1) Hillary Clinton is not our candidate, at least not in this primary period, and 2) any primary endorsement should be the result of an exhaustive process of union-wide discussion in which our International provides hard facts to our members on the actual positions and voting records of all the candidates on the issues of critical importance to us. Continue reading

TPP Unveiled

TPP REVEALED: Special bulletin from our colleagues on Pro Trade: The Obama administration has released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Read it here: http://1.usa.gov/1Pbxeru

The release sets the stage for a divisive fight in Congress next year that will once again pit Barack Obama against the labor movement and most of his fellow Democrats, reports Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer.

Approval of the landmark trade agreement between the United States, Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries would rely heavily on votes from Republicans, in a replay of this year’s battle over trade promotion authority, which allows Obama to submit TPP to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments.

From Politico’s Morning Report.

Sanders Introduces Major Labor Law Reform

Progressive legislators introduced a law on Tuesday Oct. 6  that would speed up the process for forming labor unions and penalize companies that delay negotiating with newly formed unions — as labor allies in Congress try to preserve some of the gains they have made during President Barack Obama’s second term.

The Workplace Democracy Act, sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, would eliminate the two-stage balloting process for union election, a move that labor advocates say will make it easier for workers to form unions.

Under current law, employees in a given workplace can trigger an election if at least 30 percent of them sign union authorization cards. After those cards are signed, workers must obtain a majority vote in favor of the union in a second process to get the union certified. The Sanders proposal would eliminate the ballot and lead to union certification if a majority of workers sign cards.

“If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country,” Sanders said.

Labor union leaders say that the steady decline of union membership rates over the past four decades is, in part, a product of the cumbersome administrative process for forming a union. They also say they believe the recent strikes by workers who are not part of a union — such as the recent wave of day-long nationwide strikes initiated by fast food workers and other service employees — are a sign that workers are finding it easier to strike than to try to form a union.  Continue reading

European Trade Unionists Oppose Corporate Trade Deals

International Union of Food Workers [IUF]

250,000 demonstrate in Berlin to say ‘No to trade deals that threaten democracy’

Citizens across Europe took to the streets on October 10 to show their opposition to three pernicious trade and investment deals that threaten democracy: TTIP (EU/US), CETA (EU/Canada) and the TISA agreement on services driven by the world’s wealthiest countries.

Demonstrations were held across Europe in a week of action which including delivering a petition signed by three million EU citizens to the European Commission calling on the Commission to reverse its support for the deals and hold a hearing in the European Parliament. The Commission has rejected the petition [1].

Over a quarter-million German and European citizens, trade unionists and civil society organizations marched and rallied in Berlin.
TTIPCGIL
A large delegation from the IUF-affiliated Italian food workers union FLAI-CGIL was among the  international trade unions that travelled to Berlin to show their opposition and solidarity.

The over 1,600 page EU-Canada CETA contains many of the toxic features which have united opponents to the TTIP: investor-to-state lawsuits which allow corporations to bypass national courts and directly sue governments in secret tribunals, opening public procurement and services to transnational investors and locking in privatization, and corporate gains on intellectual property which impact directly on, for example, food and pharmaceuticals. Because Canada does not have the economic weight or political resonance of the US, the wider threat CETA poses has been underappreciated. Virtually every significant US transnational has subsidiaries in Canada which can make use of its provisions. And TNCs based outside Canada and the EU can, under certain circumstances, invoke most favored nation clauses in the global web of trade agreements [2] to demand similar powers vis-à-vis Canada and the EU. CETA needs to be exposed and defeated with the same focus which has united opponents to TTIP and to the now signed but not yet ratified TPP involving the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a group of Pacific nations.

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