Union members and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council (SDICLC) dropped off a stack of petitions (almost 90,000 signatures) to Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Monday, calling for a fair trade deal that works for Americans. U.S. Trade Representative Carol Guthrie accepted the petitions on behalf of the negotiators. TPP should promote job creation, respect labor and human rights, protect the sovereign right of nations to make public interest policy and preserves the ability to Buy American.
SDICLC Secretary-Treasurer/CEO Lorena Gonzalez, other SDICLC staff, and representatives from AFL-CIO and Machinists (IAM) delivered the petitions in the lobby of the Hilton on Monday. Organizations including AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Public Citizen and SignOn gathered signatures the week before.
Gonzalez and Matt McKinnon, who represented IAM, spoke with Guthrie and reiterated the need for fair trade in the TPP free trade agreement.
Guthrie acknowledged the need for public input and told those in attendance that she would take all 90,000 signatures to her fellow TPP trade negotiators upstairs to review and consider as part of the ongoing discussions.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement with 11 countries. Trade negotiators from the U.S. were at the Hilton all week working on the negotiations with representatives from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Mexico and Canada were recently added to the TPP—but have not yet participated in the talks.
A major difference from past free trade agreements is that a completed TPP would allow new countries to join, or “dock on,” at any time. “Dock on” could be one of the most critical aspects of the entire agreement, as it would allow any country in the world, such as Japan or China, to join the agreement at a later date. It is also not yet clear whether the TPP will ensure that Congress gets an up or down vote for each new entrant. Now, new entrants can join the World Trade Organization (WTO) without such a vote. The results of Japan or China joining the TPP without a Congressional check could be devastating for our economy. Unfair trade with China since it joined the WTO has displaced more than 2.8 million U.S. jobs—1.9 million workers in manufacturing alone. We cannot afford a free trade agreement with either of these countries unless and until our negotiators get the rules right.