Ohio activists, including CWAers and environment and community allies, held a town hall in Columbus last night to tell U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to oppose "fast track" legislation and stand up for good jobs and consumer protections for Ohioans.
Packed into the Neighborhood House of Columbus last night were members of CWA, the AFL-CIO, Progress Ohio, Ohio Association for Retired Americans, Ohio Sustainable Business Council, Common Cause Ohio, Columbus NAACP, Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council, Central Ohio Worker Center, Jobs with Justice Columbus, and concerned Columbus residents.
"It's an honor to continue to stand alongside you in this really, really important fight," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said in a video address. "We cannot allow another trade deal that shortchanges our workers and ships jobs overseas. These trade deals may be great for corporations but they're not good for our small businesses, they are not good for our workers, they are not good for our families, and they are not good for our communities."
Participants also heard from speakers including Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga; Sam Gresham of Common Cause Ohio; Ohio Association for Retired Americans President Norm Wernet; Brian Kunkemoeller of Sierra Club; NAACP Political Action Committee Chairperson Cynthia Stewart; Mark Shanahan of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council; and Sister Roberta Miller, professor emeritus at Ohio Dominican University.
Burga said past flawed trade pacts "have blown up our import/export deficit" and caused the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs across Ohio. "Ohioans would be well served to look at the catastrophic results of recent such arrangements," he said. "Between 2000 and 2014, America lost 4 million jobs."
The town hall focused on efforts by Big Business and others to use "fast track" to foist the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on an unsuspecting public. CWA and allies have moved mountains to make sure the deal being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 nations like Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, and Brunei does not remain secret much longer.
Congressional approval of "fast track" for trade deals would mean an expedited process in which members of Congress strip themselves of their rights to debate and amend the 1,200-plus page TPP bill. "Fast track" would be a simple up-or-down vote. Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have been publicly declaring their opposition to "fast track" authority.
The TPP trade deal will send more U.S. jobs overseas, raise prescription drug prices, and allow multinational corporations to challenge any U.S. law or regulation that affects "expected future profits" in a secret, overseas court. Unions, environmental, progressive and community groups and others have been participating in public discussions on the devastating effects of "fast track" and TPP on good jobs and our communities.
"The TPP is a fast track to disaster for our environment and our democracy because of investor protection provisions that elevate the profits of foreign corporations above laws that protect clean air, clean water, and curb climate disrupting carbon pollution," Sierra Club-Ohio's Kunkemoeller said.
It was standing-room only as CWAers joined labor, environmental and community allies at a Columbus, OH, town hall to tell Sen. Rob Portman to reject "fast track" for the TPP.
Below: Former Ohio Governor and Member of Congress Ted Strickland signing in at last night's Town Hall. Strickland wrote a letter to Sen. Portman at the meeting telling him to reject "fast track." Afterward, he stood in the back and didn't speak but was greeted with an ovation when the crowd realized he was there.