‘We will defeat TPP’ says Trumka

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‘THE hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP,’ says Trumka.

After the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was released, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement:

‘After six long years, the secrecy is over. The public finally has a chance to scrutinise the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for themselves instead of having to rely on characterisations made by the agreement’s supporters. America’s voters can now make their own judgment about whether it meets their high standards for a 21st century agreement that will raise wages, protect our democracy and promote sustainable growth and development.

‘From what we have reviewed so far, we are deeply disappointed that our policy recommendations and those of our trade reform allies in the environmental, consumer, public health, global development and business sectors were largely ignored. The investment rules still provide expansive new legal rights and powers to foreign businesses to challenge legitimate government actions.

‘The labour enforcement provisions are still inadequate to address the enormous challenges posed by this deal and the lack of enforceable currency rules subject to trade sanctions mean the promised new export markets may never materialise. We will be examining the text line by line in the coming days to understand the deal’s full implications for working people in every sector from manufacturing and agriculture to public and private services.

‘But from what we have already seen, it is clear that the threats of this expansive new agreement outweigh its benefits – for good jobs, for democracy, for affordable medicines, for consumer safety and for the environment. ‘The hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP.’

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa noted the TPP agreement helps big business, not everyday Americans. The following is the official statement of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in response to the White House releasing the text of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal which would lead to tens of thousands of US jobs being shipped overseas and lower wages for many Americans.

He said: ‘A month has passed since trade officials from around the Pacific Rim signed off on this pact. While we are pleased that Congress and the public will now be able to see the entire text of this massive agreement, viewing it in person will not make it any better for US workers. Americans’ fears over how the TPP will tamp down on wages, allow foreign companies to sue governments and create even larger trade deficits due to a lack of currency manipulation controls are very real and justified.

‘And because Congress approved fast track trade promotion authority earlier this year, there’s not a damn thing elected officials can do about it except oppose ratification of this bad deal when it comes to a vote. Officials have talked about side deals and special arrangements that they say will improve the agreement. But they are unenforcable and won’t help protect the jobs of hardworking Americans. That’s why there is only one right answer for lawmakers when it comes to TPP. Just say no.’

The International Association of machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) expressed grave concerns over details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which were released last Friday by the White House after months of secret negotiations.

‘The IAM’s worst fears about the TPP materialised early this morning when the US Trade Representative released the TPP text,’ said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. While we are still reviewing this document, on nearly all matters of immediate relevance to American working families and their communities, this agreement fails to deliver.

‘Not only are the labour provisions warmed over language from failed past agreements, but the agreement actually takes a giant step backward, with the inclusion of Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Mexico. Additionally, investors and corporations can still challenge basic worker and environmental protections while rules of origin are weaker than even the ones found in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and there are no provisions to bring currency manipulation under control.’

The IAM will immediately activate its grassroots network of political activists at more than 800 locals and districts across the US to call on legislators to oppose this failed trade deal. Separately, longshoremen’s union ILWU International President Robert McEllrath pledged to fight new attacks on dockers.

He wrote: ‘As you know, politicians have been publicly and inaccurately blaming congestion at the ports on those of us who work on the docks. They are opportunistically using industry-caused congestion as an excuse to introduce legislation that attacks workers’ collective bargaining rights, threatens our safety, wastes taxpayer dollars – and fails to address the actual root causes of congestion.

‘On November 4, two US Representatives proposed misguided and dangerous amendments that would have forced unsafe speeds on the docks and hijacked the transportation bill to reexamine past labour talks. Fortunately, with hard work from our Longshore representatives in D.C., our Legislative Action Committee, and a unified voice from longshore workers and our friends and allies, both amendments were defeated.

‘The amendment proposed by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) was withdrawn for lack of votes, and the amendment proposed by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) was defeated in a House floor vote. While we prevailed in this round of attacks on our workplace safety and collective bargaining rights, politicians have already fired another round.

‘Just hours after the Newhouse and Reichert amendments were defeated, two anti-union Congressmen from Washington and Oregon held a news conference and introduced another misguided bill called the “Economics Act.” At first glance, this bill seems to be a rehash of already rejected ideas. More details on the act will be forthcoming. The ILWU will be educating members of Congress on the dangers of this bill and any others that arise. We need your support to defeat them.

‘Listen to your local officers’ updates, and if you use social media, stay tuned to the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s page on Facebook. If we issue an action alert, it’s important to respond immediately by contacting your elected officials in Congress and respectfully urging them to vote according to the action alert. It will take continued hard work and vigilance to ensure that opportunistic politicians do not erode our rights.

‘We have been fighting this fight since 1934, and we must continue to beat back these attacks. Thank you for your support to defeat the amendments, and stay tuned to make your voice heard again.’ Teamsters’ leader Hoffa warned that Congress is on the cusp of doing something it hasn’t done in more than a decade, approving a long-term highway bill.

‘A bipartisan collection of lawmakers in both the House and Senate should be lauded for the difficult work they have accomplished thus far in attempting to enact a six-year funding measure.

‘This includes rejecting an amendment that would have allowed heavier trucks on the nation’s thoroughfares.

‘Increasing truck weight limits by up to 11,000 pounds would have placed a significant burden on the nation’s decrepit infrastructure at a time when it is already struggling to meet the needs of millions of truckers and motorists. It would have also jeopardised safety. But there is still more that needs to be done as leaders in both chambers attempt to work out the differences between House and Senate versions of the bill by the November 20 deadline for renewing federal infrastructure funding.

‘This includes stopping teen truckers from transporting commerce across state lines as well as eliminating meal and rest break rules that ensure truckers are at their best when behind the wheel. There is no reason to have inexperienced drivers making such long hauls. Drivers with less time behind the wheel get into more accidents.

‘And there is definitely no excuse for those on Capitol Hill to try and overturn the rules of 22 states and Puerto Rico that grant breaks to truck drivers. The Teamsters remain extremely concerned with their inclusion of overly-broad and dangerous language which would preempt state meal and rest break laws that protect the working conditions of commercial drivers. If elected officials care about highway safety, they will strip such provisions from any final bill.’

Hoffa added that the Teamsters’ ‘Let’s Get America Working’ platform calls on America to invest in itself and its citizenry. By building roads and repairing rails, for instance, this nation can improve the fortunes of both working people and big business. And as the Senate vote in July and the House vote yesterday proves, infrastructure presents an opportunity to break political gridlock.

‘Transportation investment is an ideal way to boost the nation’s economy. Infrastructure jobs, unlike those in other sectors, can’t be outsourced. They improve living standards for all Americans, including the men and women who help to repair and maintain road, bridges and mass transit systems, along with those who earn a living transporting goods and the vast majority of Americans who use our transportation networks every day.

‘There are 61,000 structurally deficient bridges in the US today and 28 per cent of urban roads are in substandard condition. Quite simply, the nation’s transportation infrastructure is in crisis. Congress has the ability to change it. But it must put forward a bill that takes both funding and safety seriously.

‘Lawmakers are very close to accomplishing something worthwhile here. But as part of the process, elected officials must protect motorists as well,’ said Hoffa.