(April 22, 2015) — An unprecedented coalition of more than 100 labor unions, environmental groups, community organizations, small businesses and other civic groups have joined forces to urge Washington’s Congressional delegation to oppose granting Trade Promotion Authority, known as “Fast Track,” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other NAFTA-style trade agreements. A Fast Track proposal was introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 16 and could be voted upon as soon as next week.
This week, the broad-based coalition opposing Fast Track co-signed a letter to each member of Washington’s delegation to Congress that urged them “to take a stand in favor of the workers, our state’s businesses, the environment, and the safety of products that come into our homes and onto our tables” by voting against Fast Track for the TPP.
“We are in favor of trade, and take pride in exports from Washington state,” the letter reads. “But NAFTA-style trade policies have increased imports faster than exports, contributing to $11 trillion in cumulative trade deficits, loss of manufacturing capacity, substantial job loss, and movement of production to countries with low wages and weak environmental regulations.”
Organizations ranging from the Washington Environmental Council to the Washington State Labor Council, from Casa Latina to the Faith Action Network, from the Main Street Alliance of Washington (advocating for small business) to One America are all expressing their opposition to Fast Track and reminding members of Congress that “negotiations for TPP are being conducted in complete secrecy, without meaningful participation from civil society.”
“The TPP should be debated in a full and open manner like every other piece of legislation,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Working people across Washington and the rest of the nation are showing tremendous courage by standing up to the corporate agenda that offshores good jobs and lowers wages for the jobs that remain. It’s time for the members of the Washington Congressional delegation to do the same.”
“Since the day this Fast Track proposal was introduced we have been amazed at the outcry of opposition from every corner of the community,” said Gillian Locascio, Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. “There’s a reason why the corporate interests who negotiate these secret trade deals want to avoid scrutiny from the public and our elected representatives. If it’s as good for us as they say it is, then it can withstand open debate in the light of day and shouldn’t be fast-tracked through Congress.”
“Today’s trade agreements have significant implications for our environment, public health, and global climate,” said Becky Kelley, President of the Washington Environmental Council. “Fast Track subverts the principles of democracy, transparency, and political accountability that are necessary to a more inclusive and transparent process for these trade agreements. A new model of trade that promotes broadly shared prosperity and safeguards the environment and public health is possible. We won’t get there through this Fast Track legislation.”
“The Sierra Club believes that trade done right can foster development and sustainable growth, while also protecting workers and the environment in the United States and abroad,” said Kathleen Ridihalgh, Senior Organizing Manager of the Sierra Club. “It’s time that our trade rules support environmental and climate protection.”
ALSO at The Stand:
Secret trade deals, Fast Track thwart our cherished democracy (by Leo W. Gerard)