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Free traders are back in Seattle; let’s demand People Over Profit!

Washington Fair Trade Coalition invites all to a workshop, rally/march, and town hall. Can’t attend? Sign the petition!


Special to The Stand

SEATTLE (July 25, 2023) — For decades, free trade deals have been used by corporations to amass profits off the backs of workers and the planet. Corporations have been able to move supply chains at the drop of a hat, leaving working families and communities devastated.

Here in Washington state, around 100,000 jobs have been lost since NAFTA went into effect in 1994. At the same time, Washington’s wealthiest 10 percent increased their share of the wealth from 39 percent to 48 percent in the first 20 years of NAFTA. Corporate-centered free trade has clear winners (corporations) and losers (workers). It’s time we reverse this dynamic and finally prioritize people over profit in the global trading system.

And we have an incredible opportunity coming up to do just that.

Officials from Washington, D.C. and multiple countries throughout the Asia Pacific region will be in Seattle starting later this week for closed-door, invitation-only Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) talks on trade and the global economy. In part, they will be discussing the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), President Biden’s biggest trade initiative, which will have a huge impact on jobs, wages, labor rights, environmental protection, consumer privacy, and human rights at home and abroad for decades to come.

In response to these secret negotiations, the Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WFTC) is joining with labor, environmental, consumer privacy, and international solidarity partners in hosting a series of events highlighting the voices of those marginalized by free trade. Negotiators will be in town to hear from Amazon, Boeing, and Microsoft; organizers want to make sure they hear from workers, environmental activists, migrants, women, and others who have been negatively impacted by corporate-centered trade.

TAKE A STAND — Join WFTC, unions and multiple other organizations in demanding transparency, labor rights, environmental protection, and consumer privacy in ongoing trade negotiations by attending these events:

Trade Justice Workshop — Saturday, July 29 at 1 p.m. at University of Washington Architecture Hall, Room 147, 3943 Stevens Way in Seattle. Learn about the status of the IPEF negotiations, the struggle between corporate-driven trade rules and people’s interests, and what you can do to make a difference. RSVP here.

Trade Justice Rally and March — Sunday, July 30 at 2 p.m. at Cal Anderson Park, 1635 11th Ave. in Seattle. After a short rally in the park, participants will march to bring our demands directly to officials at the APEC meetings at the Seattle Convention Center. RSVP here.

Digital Trade Town Hall featuring Rep. Pramila Jayapal and WSLC Secretary Treasurer Cherika Carter on Monday, Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. in the Walker Ames Room of Kane Hall at the University of Washington, 4069 Spokane Ln NE in Seattle. RSVP here.

If you can’t attend these events but want your voice to be heard, sign this petition, which will be delivered to trade negotiators during the July 30 march.

They must hear our stories. Stories like that of Brian Skiffington from ILWU Local 23:

“As a third-generation longshoremen on the Port of Tacoma, I know that trade connects me directly to workers in all nodes of the global transport sector,” said Brian Skiffington, a member of ILWU Local 23. “Our solidarity and power rely on decades of lessons learned about the need for strong worker-to-worker communication across oceans. We touch the same cargo that seafarers, truckers, railroad, airplane workers and warehouse workers handle all the way out through manufacturing and production.”

He continued:

“If we’re going to make Trade Deals like IPEF, they need to work for all people in the global supply chain. To ensure this is the case, the negotiations have to represent the widest swath of working class voices. Unfortunately at this time they are dominated by large corporations and world leaders with abysmal human rights track records and bottom feeder labor and environmental conditions.

“IPEF can’t be a win for workers of one country while continuing the abuse and exploitation of peasant communities and migrant labor in another.

“The groups organizing around APEC and IPEF not only are stronger through organizing together, but they bring all kinds of community struggles into the Coalition. Which is a good place to stitch together our working class movements. It’s healthy for our unions when workers and community groups learn how to organize and struggle from each other. Unions have a lot to learn and a lot to teach about democracy, fighting for justice and people power.”

Please join us in demanding transparency, labor rights, environmental protection, and consumer privacy in ongoing trade negotiations. Please get more details and register here.

Let’s remind the world of Seattle’s strength against free trade! People Over Profits!


Julie Bouanna is the Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition.


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