Showing posts with label congress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label congress. Show all posts

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Georgia AFL-CIO works to change or defeat TPP

The Georgia AFL-CIO continues to press for changes to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), or failing that, defeat of the current expected 12-nation trade deal.



On Monday, Oct. 5, the union will be asking the Atlanta City Council to pass a resolution, in support of better trade deals. It appears that if the Council approved this resolution, it would place the Council in conflict with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who welcomed the negotiators to Atlanta last week and has generally supported the TPP.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Mayor Reed as saying that “Businesses that engage in exports have a higher chance of survival and they pay higher wages. “At the end of the day, all of this is about folks having a job that gives them some dignity and allows them to support their families.”

The call for a City Council resolution follows the AFL-CIO’s support of protests last week in Atlanta where trade representatives were meeting to try to conclude trade negotiations on the pact supported by the Obama administration.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, Georgia AFL-CIO’s communications director, told the AJC that he has myriad concerns with the potential deal, namely that it will benefit CEOs and not workers.

“Once TPP passes, it could last indefinitely. And other countries can join it without limit or oversight by the public or Congress,” he said. He fears that TPP “is a global race to the bottom, the bottom in environmental standards, the bottom in labor and wage standards.”

The Obama administration has argued that TPP will help U.S. companies increase exports. In turn, they believe that increased business would result in increased employment for American workers.

It is unclear whether union locals in Georgia support the TPP protestors or whether the Georgia AFL-CIO is acting more on orders from the national AFL-CIO to oppose the trade deal. Last week’s protest in downtown Atlanta did not show a particularly large turnout of union members.

TPP is the nation’s largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. Much of the present union opposition to TPP stems from what they see as serious job losses due to NAFTA, which they vow to not allow again under TPP.

Nations involved in the current TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. While China is not part of the current round of negotiations, some fear that China will be added later to the agreement causing loss of more U.S. jobs.

Meanwhile, the trade negotiators themselves are probably less concerned about protests as they struggle to conclude any deal. A number of stumbling blocks over specific issues, including dairy imports and patent protections for pharmaceuticals, continue to delay finalizing details of the trade deal.

The trade talks, which were originally scheduled to conclude on Thursday, have carried over into the weekend. Given these difficulties, it is unlikely that negotiators will be willing to entertain additional modifications to the current trade package.

Assuming that negotiators are able to agree to a final package before leaving Atlanta, the protestors will then need to turn their attention to having Congress to defeat the final agreement.

This will be difficult as TPP was given fast-track status by Congress, meaning that the agreement can be voted either up or down but with very few changes. Fast-track status means that protestors will need to convince a majority of lawmakers to vote down the deal, since they will be unable to amend the final bill.

Asking the Atlanta City Council to approve this draft resolution is one step towards shifting the focus by putting public pressure on lawmakers to defeat the final draft trade deal.