MINNEAPOLIS (PAI, Workday Minnesota) - Hundreds of labor, fair trade, environmental, and community activists marched through downtown Minneapolis on August 20 to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal that could jeopardize American jobs, wages, consumer safety, health care and environmental standards.
"We are building people power. We are movement building," Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen told the crowd. His union represents 700,000 workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, public service, health care and manufacturing, all areas where jobs are under threat due to free trade deals.
Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition Director Josh Wise, TakeAction Minnesota Executive Director Dan McGrath, Communications Workers Minnesota State Council President Mona Meyer and other coalition allies joined Cohen in leading the march.
The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries will meet this week in Brunei to discuss what could be the largest trade agreement in U.S. history. But the only people at the negotiating table are corporate lobbyists and government officials - not the groups fighting for workers, public health, free speech, environmental regulations and consumer protections.
While the draft text of the agreement has never been officially released to the public, leaked documents reveal disconcerting proposals to grant multinational corporations new political powers, ration lifesaving medicines, extend restrictive intellectual property laws and more.
"Democracy does not function unless the people have a spot at the table," noted Wise. "The big corporations want to keep this as secret as possible."
On the way to the rally, protesters stopped outside of U.S. Bank and Verizon - some of the many corporate "trade advisors" involved in the trade talks - to raise awareness about their support of the TPP.
"Secrets, secrets are no fun. TPP hurts everyone," the protesters chanted.
Photo: Workday Minnesota (see above link).