BELLINGHAM (Mar. 24, 2015) — The Bellingham City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night in opposition to “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority when Congress considers the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The council’s message: “We do not believe it is sound democratic process to bind Congress to an up-or-down vote, particularly on a wide-reaching and controversial agreement written behind closed doors.”
“Cities and counties are alarmed, rightfully so, that provisions in these deals let international corporations challenge their ability to work on behalf of their communities,” said Mark Lowry, President of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council. “If some company decides a city ordinance is hurting their profits, they would be able to sue — not in court but before an international tribunal that could award the company ‘lost profits.’ It’s absurd to sign away our right to self-governance. And it’s even more absurd to block Congress from debating such important issues by ‘Fast Tracking’ secret trade deals.”
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council has postponed its vote on a similar resolution until Monday, March 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 600 4th Ave. The vote on the Seattle resolution was postponed because a council member introduced a “counter resolution,” which automatically moved the vote to give it proper consideration.
The resolutions come at a critical time, as Congress could consider passage of Fast Track next month. Members of Washington’s Congressional delegation will be back in district on recess next week, and paying attention.
TAKE A STAND – If you live in Seattle, the City Council needs to hear from you. Call or email city council members today. Call 206-684-8566 and/or email them at email@example.com. Urge them to pass a strong resolution that OPPOSES Fast Track for the TPP (not merely expresses “concerns”). The council is being pressured by Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing, the Seattle Times, and even the White House to oppose or weaken the resolution. Now is the time to send a clear message that we are holding all of our elected officials accountable for upholding democratic processes and ensuring trade agreements are by, of, and for, the people.
The Bellingham resolution, which passed 7-0, resolved:
Section 1. The City of Bellingham declares its opposition to the granting of Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) by the U.S. Congress for its consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We do not believe it is sound democratic process to bind Congress to an up-or-down vote, particularly on a wide-reaching and controversial agreement written behind closed doors;
Section 2. The City of Bellingham calls on the U.S. Executive Branch to make a full copy of the negotiating draft available to members of Congress and the general public for consultation and comments before the creation of a final agreement;
Section 3. The City of Bellingham will convey this resolution to our Congressional delegation, to President Obama, and to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman along with a call for a new model for trade and investment that safeguards the ability of local and national governments to safeguard our environment, protect communities, domestic businesses and workers, and tackle climate change;
Section 4. If these principles are not adequately addressed in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Bellingham City Council reserves the right to urge our Congressional delegation to vote to reject this agreement.
Fast Track is the first step in passing the TPP, another flawed trade deal. Passage of Fast Track would restrict Congress to just a yes or no vote on the highly-flawed TPP. It would prevent members of Congress from offering any amendments to change provisions that hurt U.S. workers. The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors between the United States and 11 pacific-rim countries, including notorious human and labor rights violators Vietnam, Brunei and Mexico. It dramatically expands corporate control over the U.S. economy and reduces the ability of the U.S. to promote health, safety and environmental regulations with our trading partners.
Like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the TPP threatens to offshore hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to countries with lower wages.
For more information on the TPP and Fast Track, see this column by Lynne Dodson, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council: Congress trades away authority, its responsibility with ‘Fast Track.’
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