Unionists, allies protest Trans-Pacific trade pact

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LEESBURG, Va. (PAI) -- Denouncing secret agreements that harm workers and consumers and are negotiated behind closed doors, unionists and their allies protested at the Sept. 9 start of the latest round of talks on a planned Trans-Pacific Pact (TPP).

The TPP talks held in a secluded conference center in the D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Va., feature the Democratic Obama administration negotiating with nations around the Pacific Ocean - such as Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore and Australia - on a trade pact that would lack enforceable worker rights, among other huge holes.

TPP sections previously leaked show a huge pro-corporate tilt, outdoing even NAFTA, the controversial U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade treaty that became a template for succeeding trade agreements.

Chanting "Flush the TPP," protesters denounced the trade pact, the Metro Washington Central Labor Council reported. The group said the closed-door session in Leesburg - scheduled to last for a week-was "back-room deal making for the 1%."

"If the TPP continues it is highly likely to offshore good-paying US jobs to low wage countries, deregulate Wall Street banks, displace family farmers" and more, added D.C. Jobs With Justice Executive Director Nikki Daruwala.

Besides JWJ, a wide range of unions led by the Communications Workers was a large part of the protest. It was the second such popular protest against closed-door TPP sessions in two months.

The prior one, in San Diego, also focused on the fact that the Obama administration's U.S. Trade Representative's office let corporate lobbyists into the talks as "observers" while keeping workers, consumers and other citizens out.

CWA pursued that theme in marshaling unionists for the protest in Leesburg.

"Right now, the TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors. Only a handful of corporate lobbyists and trade officials have been able to see the details of the trade pact," the union said.

"This exclusive group includes lobbyists from Verizon, who want to make sure the TPP makes it even easier to offshore call center and tech support jobs. The pact would create even more incentives for corporations to offshore manufacturing and service sector jobs and put even more pressure on workers' wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights," the union added. "It's time for the negotiators to hear from the people who will be most affected by this deal," CWA concluded.

Photo: Chicago Labor Day, 2011. John Bachtell/PW

 

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