Arrests in Atlanta at Stop TPP protests

Daniel just out of 3Photographs by Steve Eberhardt.stop TPP

(APN) ATLANTA  — Protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue in Atlanta, as negotiators from twelve countries work to finalize this latest, controversial proposal for an international free trade agreement.

Advocates from civil society organizations concerned with labor, the environment, health care, food, and other issues are worried about a new, free trade agreement that would further entrench corporate interests.

As of Friday evening, October 02, 2015, four activists have been arrested for civil disobedience including a DSA member.

On Wednesday, September 30, Zahara Heckscher, a breast cancer patient, was arrested for confronting TPP negotiators, while hooked up to an IV.

On Thursday, October 01, Daniel Hanley went down to the floor where negotiations were taking place and handcuffed himself to a railing.  Pictures that have surfaced of his arrest appear particularly brutal.  One of the officers was aggressive and hurt Hanley’s wrist while trying to remove the handcuffs, Hanley said.

Today, Friday, October 02, Nina Roark and an activist who goes by the name, “Scout,” were arrested for putting their bodies in the doorway of the meeting and refusing to leave.

The contents of the TPP are not being made public; however, an earlier version was leaked on WikiLeaks.

“Based on what we know about the TPP, this massive free trade agreement would let corporations unravel hard-won protections for health, working conditions, and the environment,” Nina Dutton, lead TPP organizer with the Sierra Club, said. Continue reading

Nike supports TPP. Here is why

Leo Gerard

America is in an abusive relationship with trade-obsessed politicians and corporations.

Despite their long history of battering the U.S. middle class with bad trade deal after bad trade deal, these lawmakers and CEOs contend workers should believe that their new proposal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will be different. President Obama and the CEO of Nike, a company that doesn’t manufacture one shoe in the United States, got together in Oregon on Friday to urge Americans to fall once again for a trade deal.

The trade fanatics say everything will be different under the TPP – even though it is based on deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that lured American factories across the border, destroyed good-paying jobs and devastated communities. They plead: “Just come back for one more deal and see how great it will be this time!” And, like all batterers, they say: “Sorry about the terrible past; trust me about the future.”

This is trade abuse.

United Steelworkers of America.

At the Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., the chief executive officer of Air Jordans told the chief executive passenger of Air Force One that Americans should believe in the TPP because it’ll be like Santa Claus stuffing jobs down chimneys across America.

CEO Mark Parker promised that the TPP would miraculously prompt Nike, the brand that is the icon for shipping production overseas, to create 10,000 U.S. manufacturing and engineering jobs – over a decade, that is.  Not only that, Parker pronounced, the TPP will generate thousands of construction jobs and as many as 40,000 indirect positions with suppliers and service companies – again, over a decade.

Now those are some great-sounding promises! Nike employs 26,000 American workers now, a few of whom make soles in Oregon and Missouri. But presto, Parker says, the TPP will increase that number by nearly 40 percent!

The thing is, Nike could easily create 10,000 manufacturing and engineering jobs in the United States right now. No TPP required. It employs 1 million overseas, the vast majority in low-wage, high-worker-abuse countries like Vietnam, China and Indonesia. To bring 1 percent of those jobs – 10,000 – to the United States doesn’t seem like such a Herculean, TPP-requiring task, especially considering Nike’s massive profit margin.

The average cost to make a pair of Nike shoes is $30. The American sneaker consumer, who may pay $130 to swoosh, is certainly not getting the benefit of low prices from Nike’s cheap overseas production.

Instead of manufacturing in America, Nike chooses to “just do it” in countries where it knows workers are abused. In the 1990s, the media slammed the corporation for sweatshop conditions in its foreign factories. Like a typical abuser, Nike promised to reform its ways. It said in a news release last week, “Our past lessons have fundamentally changed the way we do business.”

Well, not really. The company admitted in 2011 that two Indonesian factories making its shoes subjected workers to “serious and egregious” physical and verbal abuse. Nike told the San Francisco Chronicle then that there was “little it could do to stop” the cruelty.

And it accomplished exactly that – little. Just last month, a three-part series in the Modesto Bee described sickening conditions in Indonesian factories producing Nike shoes: Workers paid $212 a month for six-day, 55-hour work weeks. Workers denied the country’s minimum wage and overtime pay. Workers paid so little they couldn’t afford to care for their children. Workers fired for trying to improve conditions.

 

 

Nike Sweatshops

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Last week, the world’s largest athletic gear maker said, “Nike fully supports the inclusion of strong labor provisions (in the TPP) because we believe that will drive higher industry standards and create economic growth that benefits everyone.”

Promises, promises. Why doesn’t Nike simply insist on higher standards at its factories? What exactly is there in a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is essential to Nike establishing higher standards and stopping the abuse of workers in factories making its shoes?

Oh, yeah, the American middle class, which has suffered most from past trade deals, is not allowed to know that.  The TPP is secret. Well, except to the privileged corporate CEOs who helped write the thing.

In pushing for “Fast Track” authority to shove the deal through a Congress that has abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to oversee foreign trade, President Obama admitted “past deals did not always live up to the hype.”

That’s not quite right. It’s actually way worse than that. Past deals killed U.S. factories and jobs. Since NAFTA, they’ve cost Americans 57,000 factories and 5 million good, family-supporting jobs.

Just three years ago, trade fanatics promised that the Korean deal, called KORUS, would definitely provide more exports and more jobs. Instead, U.S. goods exports to Korea dropped 6 percent, while imports from Korea surged 19 percent. So the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea swelled 104 percent. That means the loss of 93,000 America jobs in just the first three years of KORUS.

It’s the same story with the other trade deals that followed NAFTA, including the agreements that enabled China to enter the World Trade Organization. The Commerce Department announced just last week the largest monthly expansion in the trade deficit in 19 years. The deficit with China for March was the biggest ever.

What this means is that instead of exporting goods, America is exporting jobs. Foreign workers get the jobs making the stuff Americans buy. And they’re often employed by factories producing products for so-called American corporations like Nike. They’re employed by factories that collapse and kill hundreds. Factories that catch on fire and immolate workers trapped inside. Factories where workers are ill-paid, overworked and slapped when they can’t meet unrealistic production quotas. Factories that pollute grievously.

American workers no longer are willing to engage in this abusive relationship with trade fanatics. They no longer believe the promises of change. They don’t want the federal money TPP fanatics promise them to pay for retraining as underpaid burger flippers after their middle class-supporting factory jobs are shipped overseas. They’re over trade pacts that benefit only multi-national corporations like Nike.

To Fast Track and the TPP, they say, “Just Don’t Do It!”

Leo Gerard. President . United Steelworkers of America.

Follow Leo W. Gerard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/uswblogger

 

 

Stop Fast Track! Stop TPP !

Legislation granting Fast Track trade authority to President Barack Obama was introduced in the U.S. Senate today. In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:

At a time when workers all over the country are standing up for higher wages, Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals. For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs.

Call your senators—855-790-8815—and tell them to say no to Fast Track.

See article here. http://www.dsausa.org/greasing_the_fast_track_to_global_catastrophe_dl

Fast Track would make it easier to ram through complicated trade deals without significant oversight from members of Congress or the public, just a simple “Yes” or “No” vote with no amendments allowed on trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Continue reading

Linking Trade, Work, and Migration

Globalization and NAFTA Caused Migration from Mexico

By David Bacon, Political Research Associates

Immigrant Oaxacan Farm Worker and Weaver, and her Family

Rufino Domínguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, who now heads the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, estimates that there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S., 300,000 in California alone.1 [1]

In Oaxaca, some towns have become depopulated, or are now made up of only communities of the very old and very young, where most working-age people have left to work in the north. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are now uprooting and displacing these Mexicans in the country’s most remote areas, where people still speak languages (such as Mixteco, Zapoteco and Triqui) that were old [2] when Columbus arrived from Spain.2 [3] “There are no jobs, and NAFTA forced the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez says. “We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.” Continue reading

The Right To Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration

BaconA review by Duane Campbell

The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration by David Bacon  is a well written, well informed book that explains political and economic currents shaping the US immigration experience.

The U.S. public is  engaged  in a sustained and divisive debate over immigration. Unfortunately, at the same  time ,  most U.S. do not recognize that U.S. economic policy,  particularly NAFTA created many of  the conditions that produce the very immigration of some 8 million people  that many on the Right and the Tea Party   so oppose.

The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 accelerated a neo-liberal form of economic growth in Mexico that drove poor farmers, particularly in the indigenous south to lose their farms and their livelihood.  In  response  young men, and increasingly the young women,  made the dangerous trek to the U.S. in search of work and an income to feed their families and keep their families from losing their  farms.    Continue reading

What Real Immigration Reform Would Look Like

Clue:  It’s Not a New Guest Worker Program

By David Bacon

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Oralia Maceda asks her question at the Fresno meeting.

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious last weekend in Fresno.  At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House.  It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible.  Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights.

Rufino Dominguez, who now works for the Oaxacan state government, describes what Maceda knows from experience: “NAFTA forced the price of corn so low it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore.  We come to the U.S. to work because there’s no alternative.”  The reason for the fall in prices, according to Timothy Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute, is that corn imports to Mexico from the U.S. rose from 2,014,000 to 10,330,000 tons from 1992 to 2008.  Continue reading

Migration – a product of “Free Market” Reforms

By Duane Campbell

Labor journalist and photo journalist  David Bacon is a frequent contributor to Talking Union.  In a new three part series, “Migration- a product of Free Market Reforms” he describes the displacement of some 500,000 people from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Most to the fields of California.

David Bacon

“It is the financial crashes and the economic disasters that drive people to work for dollars in the U.S., to replace life savings, or just to earn enough to keep their family at home together,” says Harvard historian John Womack. “The debt-induced crash in the 1980s, before NAFTA, drove people north…The financial crash and the Rubin-induced reform of NAFTA, New York’s financial expropriation of Mexican finances between 1995 and 2000, drove the economically wrecked, dispossessed and impoverished north again.”

The U.S. immigration debate has no vocabulary that describes what happens to migrants before they cross borders – the factors that force them into motion. In the U.S. political debate, Veracruz’s uprooted coffee pickers or unemployed workers from Mexico City are called immigrants, because that debate doesn’t recognize their existence before they leave Mexico. It would be more accurate to call them migrants, and the process migration, since that takes into account both people’s communities of origin and those where they travel to find work. Continue reading

Mexican Union (SME) Files NAFTA Labor Complaint

November 14, 2011

Official Seal of the Government of the United ...

On October 27 the Mexican Electrical Workers Union, joined by  more than eighty partners in the U.S. and Canada including USLEAP, submitted a labor complaint to the Canadian government charging Mexico with violating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The complaint focuses on the firing of 44,000 electrical workers in 2009 and the subsequent harassment and intimidation of union members who are fighting for their rights.  A similar complaint will soon be filed with the U.S. government, making it the first labor NAFTA labor complaint submitted under the Obama Administration.

In 2009, the government of President Felipe Calderón sent in soldiers to close the Central Light and Power Company of Mexico, liquidating the state-owned operation and effectively disbanding the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), one of the most important independent and democratic unions in Mexico. More than 44,0000 workers lost their jobs and another 20,000 retirees lost union benefits. The Calderón Administration then replaced the state-owned company with a non-union company and subsequently refused to accept legal recognition of SME’s leadership elected this summer as the union refused to die, occupying the main square in Mexico City until some of their demands were met in mid-September 2011. Continue reading

Cross Border Union Solidarity

BUILDING A CULTURE OF  CROSS BORDER SOLIDARITY

By David Bacon

In the period since the North American Free Trade Agreement has come into effect, the economies of the United States and Mexico have become more integrated than ever.  Through Plan Puebla-Panama and partnerships on security, the military and the drug war, the political and economic policies pursued by the U.S. and Mexican governments are also more coordinated than they’ve ever been.

Working people on both sides of the border are not only affected by this integration.  Workers and their unions in many ways are its object.  These policies seek to maximize profits and push wages and benefits to the bottom, manage the flow of people displaced as a result, roll back the rights and social benefits achieved over decades, and weaken working class movements in both countries.

All this makes cooperation and solidarity across the U.S./Mexico border more important than ever.  And after a quarter century in which the development of solidarity relationships was interrupted, unions and workers are once again searching out their counterparts and finding effective and appropriate ways to support each other in this new period. Continue reading

Why I oppose the U.S. – Columbia Free Trade Agreement

By Duane Campbell

Duane Campbell

The production of unemployment, instability, and poverty around the world is produced by  the economic policy known as neo-liberalism.  Neo liberalism is the current stage of capitalism. Trade agreements, like NAFTA ( North American Free Trade Agreement)  and the proposed trade agreements with Columbia and an important part of neo-liberalism and  actually increased poverty for many.

So called “Free Trade” agreements, like those presently proposed for Columbia, Panama, and South Korea produce economic winners as well as losers.  The winners are the transnational corporations.  The losers are the workers on both sides of the border.

Free trade is the elimination and/or lowering of taxes and other trade regulations between countries with the purpose of increasing exports .   The Administrations argues   that the FTA will create jobs and economic stability for Colombians, yet experience with prior free trade treaties, such as NAFTA,  has shown that free-market agreements lead to more poverty for the majority and increased wealth for a few multinational corporations. Continue reading