Washington, D.C. -- Following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen:
“The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake up call for our nation. Amazingly, this chapter is sealed for four years after either adoption or rejection of the TPP. Everything we read and learn makes “Fast Track” authority unimaginable. It’s secrecy on top of secrecy.
The TPP is shaping up to be an exercise in words about citizen rights that are not enforceable versus expanded corporate rights to sue governments for supposed diminishment of corporate profits. Section B of the leaked chapter documents new provisions of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), the secret tribunal process that is above national law or courts.
It is ironic that the document demonstrates that the U.S. is leading the push for expanded Investor or corporate rights provisions while Australia is leading the opposition. The center-right Abbott government has forced inclusion of a footnote in the current draft that Investor State Dispute Settlement “does not apply to Australia.”
Current ISDS action by Philip Morris, challenging Australia's plain packaging cigarette regulations designed to prevent cancer and heart disease, is likely part of the explanation for this footnote. This leaked chapter says as much about the corrosive effects of money and corporate interests in our political system as it does about trade.
These 56 pages must be a wake up call for our nation. We must be defenders of democracy first and push aside the special interests of multinational corporations. The nice words in other parts of TPP are more than outmatched by this section placing corporate rights over citizen rights and providing reparations for corporations versus government reports for other complaints.
The case for rejecting “Fast Track” authority for the TPP is now even clearer. “Fast Track” or Trade Promotion Authority is only being considered by the U.S. Every other government is preserving its right to read the text before speeding its adoption. This chapter on Investment compels the U.S. to do the same.
CWA will redouble our efforts to participate in the broadest coalition ever to defeat “Fast Track” and the TPP. Our jobs, our living standards, our safety, our environment, our national sovereignty and our very democracy are on the line. We will stand up and fight back for as long as it takes.”
Cohen is president of the Communications Workers of America, representing 700,000 workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, public service, health care and higher education, and manufacturing.