NAFTA on Steroids? Believe It.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Paul Kirk about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, CWA President Larry Cohen said the U.S. should "refocus attention on domestic employment and the rights of workers and not just the property interests of the one percent."

Cohen noted that in addition to concerns about workers' rights and jobs, the treatment of data and telecommunications services and the impact on workers across this country has received little attention.

Specifically, CWA is concerned that the approach being taken in these negotiations may "restrict the ability of Congress, the states or local governments to require that electronic or telephonic service providers perform the work locally when deemed in the public interest and make sure that consumers are afforded the ability to make an informed choice regarding the services that are provided to them."

The TPP deal could affect legislation like that introduced by Sen. Robert Casey, S. 3402, and in the House by Reps. Tim Bishop and Dave McKinley, H.R. 3596, to bar companies that move call center jobs offshore from receiving federal loans and grants and give consumers the right to be transferred to a U.S. based call center.

"It should be clear by now that the interests of corporate America are not identical to the overall interests of the U.S., and certainly are not the same as the interests of U.S. workers," Cohen said.

We know that the Trans Pacific Partnership would be a disaster for workers, consumers, and the environment. That's probably why it's being negotiated in secret, with only business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actually able to read all the proposals. Even members of Congress are denied access. What's up with that?

Slate's David S. Levine describes the debacle:

Imagine being invited to formally offer input on a huge piece of legislation, a proposed international agreement that could cover everything from intellectual property rights on the Internet to access to medicine to investment rights in the agreement's signatory countries. For 10 minutes, you'd be able to say whatever you'd like about the proposed law—good, bad, or indifferent—to everyone involved in the negotiations. But there's a caveat: All of your questions, all of your input, on what may be the most controversial part of the package, would have to be based on a version of the proposed international agreement that was 16 months old. And in that 16-month period, there were eight rounds of negotiations that could have changed any and all of the text to which you had access, but no one could tell you if that version was still accurate.

The next round of talks starts Sept. 6 in Leesburg, Va. CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign activists will be there, calling for public disclosure and access to what could be the biggest and scariest trade deal ever. Stay tuned.