1,000 rally against ‘Fast Track’ and Trans-Pacific Partnership proposals

The Wisconsin Gazette

More than 1,000 protesters assembled in Washington, D.C., over the weekend to demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and so-called “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority.

Protesters carried a banner reading “Don’t Trade Our Future” and a 15-foot Trojan Horse from Lafayette Square in front of the White House to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who has indicated an interest in running for president, addressed the crowd. He said, “The TPP is another corporate-backed agreement that is the latest in a series of failed trade policies which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs, pushed down wages for American workers and led to the decline of our middle class. The TPP must be defeated.”

Before the rally, activists from National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Alliance for a Just Society and USAction occupied the lobby of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The group included workers, students, immigrants, family farmers and small business owners. They demanded to meet with President Thomas J. Donohue and called on the U.S. Chamber to join a multi-national coalition of workers, environmentalists, and human rights advocates in opposing Fast Track Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“Working people are rising up against backroom deals that destroy our democracy and threaten our communities and the environment,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, which organized the action along with Campaign for America’s Future, Alliance for a Just Society, and USAction.

Goehl said, “We won’t stand idly by while our government trades worker protections for corporate profits and democracy for secret agreements. We’ve seen this movie before and we know it does not end well.”

The TPP would expand the NAFTA agreement to 11 Pacific Rim Nations and, if approved, would become binding U.S. law. Protesters say this would limit the ability of Congress and state and local governments to regulate food safety, set financial rules, protect workers and labor bargaining rights and limit how governments regulate public services.

The negotiations have included more than 600 corporate lobbyists but have excluded human rights and labor groups, according to NPA.

“The TPP isn’t a trade deal. It is a corporate coup d’etat that is about to be rammed down the American people’s throats.  It would make us poorer and less free and we the people aren’t going to stand by and let it happen,” said political commentator Jim Hightower, who addressed the rally.

Larry Cohen, president of Communications Workers of America, also spoke against the trade agreement.

He said, “Fast Track is not what democracy looks like. We are shut out of the debate and the consequences are horrible for the environment, workers here and abroad, for our cities devastated by abandoned factories, and for public services underfunded with trade deficits leading to greater public deficits.”

The event drew activists more than 30 states.

The rally was part of the AFL-CIO’s nationwide week of action against fast- tracking trade deals.

On the Web …

For background on the Trans Pacific Partnership, see: http://action.npa-us.org/page/-/TPP%20CWA%20fact%20sheet.pdf