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  • Labor Leaders, Congressional Democrats Fight To Prevent Lame-Duck Passage Of TPP
    Posted On: Jul 17, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, July 18, 2016

    Opposed by the majority of America’s working families and the presumptive presidential candidates of both major political parties, the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is on unsteady footing.  In a press conference with Congressional and labor leaders on Friday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka said working people should be proud of the progress they’ve made against trade structures that have killed jobs and lowered wages: 

    [Richard Trumpka]: “When it was clear the TPP would be more of the same we mobilized like never before and our activism passed the brakes on the whole process.  Fast track limped through, but Goliath has been tamed.  Today, the TPP is hanging on by a thread.  The next president will certainly oppose it and Congress does not have the votes to pass it.”

    President Barack Obama is still pushing for the TPP, increasing its chance for eleventh hour reprieve during Congress’s lame-duck session after November’s election.  Friday’s conference focused heavily on trying to prevent this.  Wisconsin Congressional Representative Mark Pocan:

    [Mark Pocan]: “That is not the best time to have people look out for the best interests of their constituents.  Let’s face it, some people are going to be looking out for our own best interests, and we have to make sure that something as big as this, that encompasses 40 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, has to have the support from the majority of people and the majority of Congress and trying to slip it through and sneak it through lame duck would be very bad for this country.”

    Democratic Congressmembers Rosa Delauro of Connecticut and Tim Ryan of Ohio described the agreement as undemocratic in its drafting and contents:

    [Rosa DeLauro]: “Working families were left out of the drafting process.  Labor groups, human rights organizations, did not have a seat at the table.  Instead, it was corporations who wrote the rules in this back room deal.” 

    [Tim Ryan]: “Rosa, myself, others who have been elected by people in the United States should have an opportunity to say ‘Hey, wait a minute, we want to strengthen the labor provisions…and the health and food provisions.’  That was taken away.  After that, to then jam this through on a lame duck session I think continues to feed what most people are seeing as a deck that’s really stacked against them.”

    American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stressed that unions are pro-trade, as long as it’s fair trade:

     “We want trade that actually creates American jobs.  We want trade that actually raises labor standards, raises environmental standards and doesn’t allow an end-run to our democracy by creating private courts.  This clearly wouldn’t even fall under that and therefore it should not be even considered in a lame duck.”

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