Chris Shelton is the president of the Communications Workers of America.
Negotiators from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries have announced agreement on a trade deal that will affect about 40 percent of the world’s economy. Despite all the hype, it’s clear that this TPP will continue decades of one-sided trade policy that gives away U.S. workers’ jobs and harms our communities, while benefiting multinational corporations and the 1 percent.
We’re concerned about the investor-state dispute settlement process that gives corporations an extra-judicial process to enforce their rights. Labor and environmental standards don’t get such special treatment. Instead, labor and environmental standards might look good on paper but basically are not enforceable.
Our country could negotiate a 21st century trade policy, one that benefits citizens and communities as well as corporations and investors. Unfortunately, the TPP is not that deal. Instead, we are being presented with a trade deal, negotiated in secret mainly by corporate lobbyists, that looks to offshore U.S. workers’ jobs and attacks workers’ living standards, raises real concerns about food safety and our ability to protect the environment, and allies the United States with governments that engage in forced labor and abuses of their own citizens, like Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
Bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and others have brought about the loss of millions of U.S. jobs, affecting the lives of families from New Jersey to Michigan to California. In Detroit, for example, hundreds of auto plants closed as those jobs were offshored to Mexico and China. Residents lost their jobs and wages, tax revenues declined, the price of housing dropped, and the city eventually filed for bankruptcy. Too many communities today can tell that same story.
And because TPP also applies to service sector jobs, its impact will be even more disastrous.
A broad coalition of workers, environmental organizations, consumer groups, people of faith, students, immigrant rights groups and many others has been fighting against this flawed trade deal. We’ll continue to spotlight the failings of it, and we’ll make sure our representatives know that we are holding them accountable for the vote they will take. It’s time to decide: Which side are you on?