CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins speaks to the TPP protest in Leesburg, Va.
Below: About 200 activists from CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign joined the latest round of the trade talks.
About 200 activists from CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign joined the latest round of the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Leesburg, Va., where they had the opportunity to confront negotiators about the secret talks. The TPP trade deal would be the biggest trade agreement in U.S. history; it's NAFTA on steroids and a bad deal for workers, consumers and the environment.
About 50 CWAers and progressive activists who registered as stakeholders attended a briefing session with negotiators and asked questions and raised concerns about the deal. CWA locals from D2-13 turned out for the event, along with CWA headquarters staff.
At the briefings, activists talked with trade representatives from Australia, Chile and other countries; the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, Department of Labor and State Department, and journalists, among others. The issue of workers' rights specifically was raised with the chief negotiator from Vietnam; it was no real surprise that the negotiator sidestepped the question of Vietnam guaranteeing workers' rights to form free trade unions.
At the afternoon rally, CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said, "The TPP is shaping up to become one of the biggest and most destructive trade agreements because it could lead to even more offshoring of our manufacturing and service sector jobs, downward pressure on wages and benefits, and the subversion of our labor rights and environmental protections. But the public is unaware that the TPP even exists because negotiators are keeping their proposals hidden. Americans deserve the right to know what's being proposed in our names."
Chamber of Commerce lobbyists and other business representatives have seen all the texts, but millions of Americans facing a big upheaval in jobs, environmental standards, consumer rights and other areas are being kept in the dark.
The next round of negotiations will be in December.