By JoAnne Powers, August 30, 2016
Organized Labor and the United Steelworkers are ramping up efforts to make sure that the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is not passed during a lame-duck session after November’s presidential election, saying the agreement would benefit international corporations at the expense of working Americans. While President Barack Obama has vowed to continue a push to pass the TPP at the end of the year, opponents received good news late last week when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the U.S. Senate would not be voting on the agreement. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has expressed opposition to the TPP, as has her Republican rival Donald Trump.
Here is United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard:
[Leo Gerard]: “[Well, the pressure that we put on President Obama’s making sure that he can’t round up any new support.] We’re clearly concerned and worried in the lame-duck session that we’ll end up with an attempt to try and get TPP passed, and I wouldn’t trust the Republicans as far as I can throw them. We’ve got to keep the heat on, we’ve got to make sure that we limit any wayward Democrats and that we keep the Republicans that have said that they were against it, that we keep them against it. We’re talking to our members every day. We’re going to work with other progressive groups. We’re gonna work with the rest of the labor movement and make sure that TPP in the lame-duck doesn’t see the light of day.”
Gerard says organized labor intends to make sure Clinton sticks to her promises regarding the TPP:
[Leo Gerard]: “The Democratic Candidate for President, Hillary Clinton, saying she’s against the TPP now, she’s against it in the lame-duck session and she’ll be against it after the election. So, we hope to hold not only President Obama’s feet to the fire, but Secretary Clinton, soon to be President Clinton.”
Labor unions and other progressive organizations expressed dismay in mid-August when Hillary Clinton announced the appointment of outspoken TPP supporter Ken Salazar to her transition team. Salazar had previously been a paid lobbyist pushing to grant President Obama fast-track trade authority on the TPP.
[Leo Gerard]: “I don’t like it, he’s not my first choice, but, again, he doesn’t get to make the appointments, he gets to put names forward. If he’s putting forward names that we disagree with, we’ll make that disagreement known. I’m much more comfortable with the fact that we have Governor Jennifer Granholm who’s co-chair of the transition team, who understands manufacturing, understands the negative impact of these rotten trade deals, saw her state through the deep recession and the role she played in helping to restructure the auto industry. So I’m more pleased with her appointment. And we’ll be also gathering names to make recommendations to both the transition team and to the President-elect. It’s important to keep in mind it’s the president that makes the final decision. So, more important than Ken Salazar is what positions will President Clinton take, and also the role that Governor Granholm will take, and I have a lot of faith in her.”