During his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke with confidence about where America is headed. In many areas, he laid out an encouraging vision for our nation – expanding education opportunities for working and middle class families, improving the ability to better balance work and family responsibilities, tax fairness, and more.
CWA has supported the president in these and similar initiatives throughout his presidency. However, we cannot stand with the president in his alliance with Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable to send more U.S. jobs offshore, undermine U.S. communities and weaken U.S. sovereignty. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has much more to do with protecting the investment of multinational corporations and maneuvering around China than lowering trade barriers.
Public opposition to "fast track" authority and the TPP is strong, and growing more vocal every day. Consumer groups, workers, environmentalists, people of faith, students and more have united to stop this attack on U.S. jobs and communities. Conservatives, who do not believe that nations should relinquish their sovereign power to secret tribunals, also are on board.
Over the past 20 years, millions of U.S. jobs have been lost. The jobs U.S. workers had been promised over those years, of course, never materialized. In fact, just two trade deals – NAFTA and the Korea Free Trade Agreement – have resulted in the loss of nearly 800,000 jobs. The promoters of the TPP are again promising job gains through growth in U.S. exports. But we can do the math. Any new jobs will be dwarfed by the flood of jobs that go offshore.
We believe in trade, but U.S. communities and working families deserve fair trade that gives workers' rights, environmental standards, consumer rights and other issues the same standing as corporate profits. Twenty-first century fair trade will balance our imports and exports, lead to job growth and protect all our rights, not just those of the 1 percent.
Instead, through the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process, the TPP gives multinational corporations special guarantees and the right to challenge a country's laws and regulations that could affect future profits in a secret tribunal. Corporations don't have to wait for six years, like workers in Guatemala did, for the U.S. to raise trade complaints over the abuse of workers in that country. Corporations don't have to accept the judgment of the Australian Supreme Court that the government has every right to regulate cigarette packaging. The secret tribunals and ISDS process would handle corporate complaints quickly.
The TPP has been negotiated in secret, but it's no secret that we're taking this fight to the Obama administration and to Congress, where activists and organizations across the political spectrum are pushing members of the House and Senate to stand up for jobs, fairness and our communities. Congress must reject "fast track" authority and give trade deals like the TPP the full review that the American people deserve.