Washington, D.C. – On the eve of his fifth State of The Union Address, President Barack Obama is being urged by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and a broad coalition of progressive organizations to ensure that strong, enforceable labor, health and environmental protections are included as part of the largest “free” trade agreement ever negotiated by the U.S.
Further, talks about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) must be transparent and include more than the corporate interests now being accommodated.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently is being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It would become the largest free trade agreement in U.S. history, and could grow even bigger since it is being negotiated to allow other countries to join even after negotiations are concluded.
“Unless President Obama insists on strict standards of openness and iron-clad protections for American workers, the TPP will likely become the biggest and most destructive free trade agreement we’ve ever seen,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. “This agreement will provide even more incentives for corporations to off-shore U.S. manufacturing and service jobs to countries like Vietnam which pay extremely low wages and suppress workers’ rights. Also, it could lead to lower wages and benefits in the U.S. as the remaining U.S. employers are forced to compete with these low wage countries. These same incentives will further erode labor rights, health and environmental protections among all participants. It would be part of a global race to the bottom that only benefits multi-national corporations.”
Collins noted that CWA and the other organizations support fair trade, but not the giveaway of jobs that has been the outcome of previous agreements, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the entry of China into the World Trade Organization. The current TPP process has given corporate lobbyists access to all negotiating documents, while the public is shut out of any discussion.
“We will only support trade agreements that secure fundamental labor rights for workers and fundamental protections for our health and environment in America and abroad,” Collins said.
Below links to a letter sent February 4th to Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, Southeast Asia and Pacific Barbara Weisel.