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TPP a Worry for Communities of Color

If past trade deals are an indication, African Americans and other communities of color should be especially concerned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that's targeting more American jobs, experts testified at a House briefing on the Hill this week.

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Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) urged activists to use the fight against TPP to hold their members of Congress accountable for their vote.

"These agreements allow large corporations to ship jobs overseas, creating a ripple effect that hurts our communities," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said. "We know from experience that the good union jobs that help African Americans and other communities of color climb to the middle class are the first to be decimated by these so called free trade agreements. I've witnessed this over and over and over again. This is true in my home district in Oakland, CA. It is true in Detroit and it's true in so many places around the country."

CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson moderated a panel that also included NAACP Washington Bureau Policy Director Hilary Shelton, ASFCME Asst. Legislative Director Barb Coufal and AFL-CIO Chief Economist Dr. Bill Spriggs.

Shelton said there's a responsibility to learn from past experiences and to correct injustices.

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Panelists agree: trade deals like TPP won’t create U.S. jobs. From left: CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson, AFL-CIO Chief Economist Dr. Bill Spriggs, NAACP Washington Bureau Policy Director Hilary Shelton and ASFCME Asst. Legislative Director Barb Coufal.

"Racial and ethnic minorities, especially African Americans workers, have historically been employed disproportionately in low-paying jobs in the manufacturing service sector, areas often more vulnerable to direct or residual impact of such international agreements," he said. "Because of our strong commitment to job creation, we ask the question, will American jobs be created by any eventual trade agreement?"

No, Spriggs said. Trade deals used to be about lowering tariffs but tariffs are pretty low the world over right now, he said. These new deals allow corporations to take a job from one area of the world, move it elsewhere so the job could be done much cheaper; they pocket the profits and tax breaks despite not paying much taxes and Americans are left with the ruins.

"We are not going to get jobs out of this. Unless you believe in the Tooth Fairy and you're a very patient child, ain't going to happen. If you believe you're going to get jobs, well, you've had since 1993 to get jobs out of NAFTA. So far, all you've done is hurt the Mexican economy, sent millions of people across their borders," Spriggs said.

Rep. Lee urged people at the briefing to use the TPP negotiations to organize: "Go back to your organizations, organize, mobilize, educate and then meet with your member of Congress and insist on not free but fair trade," she said.