Washington D.C. – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today said it met with both foreign and domestic negotiators involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks to raise workers’ rights issues, and vowed to continue to raise public awareness about the potentially catastrophic effects of such an agreement on American jobs.
The TPP, known as NAFTA on steroids, is set to become the largest free trade agreement yet. Nine countries are currently participating including Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Mexico and Canada will join the negotiations in December.
CWA’s commitment to ongoing activity follows a rally last weekend at the negotiating site in Leesburg, VA, where 200 activists from CWA, the Sierra Club, the Citizens Trade Campaign and many other groups publically contested the secretive nature of the talks. A number of the protestors also were able to engage in discussions with negotiators from various countries.
“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,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. “The public is unaware that the TPP even exists because negotiators are keeping proposals hidden. Americans deserve the right to know what’s being proposed in our names.”
CWA members met with trade representatives of Chile and Australia, among other countries, as well as officials from the U.S. Trade Representatives’ Office, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State.
At a large and formal briefing session, CWA also asked the Vietnamese chief negotiator if he would agree to strong enforceable labor standards – versions of which have been included in various other trade agreements. The answer was evasive. Vietnam is important because it has become the low-cost, no labor rights or environmental protections alternative to China – thus, making it an attractive destination for corporations who want to offshore even more U.S. jobs.
The next round of negotiations is scheduled for December.