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The Fight for Better Trade Policy Isn't Over

July 29, 2015

Let there be no mistake: although Congress has approved fast track—the failed process by which the U.S. negotiates and approves trade agreements—the larger battle for better trade policy continues.  The labor movement remains unified and resolute in its opposition to the corporate trade agenda.

Global enterprises seeking to suppress wages, pollute the air and water and violate fundamental labor rights must no longer be the architects of U.S. trade policy.  Instead, trade policies must empower workers to organize and act collectively to ensure their work is safe, secure and fairly paid; that they have adequate access to training, education, healthcare and housing; and that their elected representatives work to advance the common good rather than substituting corporate interests in its place and hoping for some trickle-down benefits.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal the administration has signaled its intent to enact by the end of the year.  In its current form, it is unacceptable.  It will irreparably harm the American economy and its working families.

Repeatedly, America’s workers have raised their voices against poorly designed trade rules, such as those enshrined in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.  Yet we now face another deal that advances the desires of global corporations rather than the needs of working families and our communities.  The TPP’s shortcomings span virtually every topic it touches, from its tariff reduction schedule and rules of origin to its outmoded financial services rules and its job-killing rules regarding public enterprises and government procurement.  Amongst its most important failures are its:

  1. Labor provisions that repeat past mistakes and fail to create confidence that they will be enforced;
  2. Unreformed investment rules that increase corporate influence over our economy and undermine our democracy;
  3. Complete lack of effective rules against currency manipulation; and
  4. Complete lack of rules to establish a framework for border adjustments to ensure that climate change policies are not undermined.

The TPP’s continued failure to address even these fundamental issues demonstrates the pact’s architects have neglected the growing evidence of the failure of status quo trade policies and have disregarded the policy solutions that will rebuild a sustainable U.S. and global economy with a vibrant middle class.  Until the TPP remedies these failures, the AFL-CIO will fight this pact, using all of the tools at our disposal.

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