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WSLC censures Fast Track supporters in state delegation

WA-congress-fast-track-censure-frontSEATTLE (Aug. 7, 2015) — In response to Resolution #15, which was unanimously approved by delegates representing unions all across the state, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has sent a letter censuring each member of the state’s Congressional delegation who voted for “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority in June. The letter also notes that this vote — as well as any vote in favor of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement — will be heavily weighted when the WSLC considers its election endorsements in 2016.

The letter from WSLC President Jeff Johnson was sent last week to Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Reps. Suzan DelBene (D), Rick Larsen (D), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), Dan Newhouse (R), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R), Derek Kilmer (D) and Dave Reichert (R), all of whom voted in favor of Fast Track. The letter reads:

Dear ______:

On behalf of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and our over 400,000 affiliated union members, I am writing regarding your recent vote on Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track), and I am including a resolution from our recent convention that addresses political accountability for votes on Fast Track and the upcoming vote of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

For the past eighteen months labor and our community partners have engaged in a comprehensive education and lobbying campaign with our Congressional delegation to vote no on Fast Track.

We believe that the negotiating position and process for TPP has been seriously flawed from the beginning insofar as:

1) negotiating began and continues with no Congressional or Civil Society parameters around our trading objectives and goals;

2) lacking original trading objectives and goals, there are insufficient accountability metrics;

3) the process has lacked any semblance of transparency or inclusiveness for anyone other than corporate interests;

4) the language protecting labor, environmental, and human rights standards is insufficient and, given past and present history, including the State Department’s recommendation to upgrade Malaysia’s human trafficking level, we have no confidence that any of these standards will actually be enforced;

5) the agreement does not address currency manipulation;

6) the agreement is designed to create CEO and shareholder winners and more working class losers in the form of greater job loss and declining wages; and finally,

7) the agreements do not view trade through either an equity or climate lens.

Representatives McDermott, Smith, and Heck voted in the best interests of working Americans and Washingtonians by voting no on Fast Track. We are grateful to them for these votes.

Senators Murray and Cantwell, as well as Representatives Larsen, DelBene, Kilmer, McMorris Rodgers, Herrera Beutler, Reichert, and Newhouse all voted for Fast Track and against the best interests of working people. Resolution #15, passed unanimously at the 2015 WSLC Convention, calls on us to censure you for your yes vote on Fast Track. Your reasons for voting yes were unconvincing to the labor movement.

We may well see TPP come up for a vote before the end of this year. Given the weak negotiating parameters, lack of transparency and inclusiveness, and a review of leaked sections of the text, we will be asking you to vote no on TPP.

While we recognize that many issues constitute a fair basis for evaluating a voting record, Resolution #15 recognizes the gravity of trade agreements on U.S. workers and, therefore, requires us to heavily weight your TPA and TPP votes as we consider our political endorsements for 2016.

We look forward to further discussions on TPP and hope that our positions will be in alignment on this agreement.


Jeffrey G. Johnson
President, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

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