There will be a number of rallies and other events over the July 4 Congressional recess, focused on members of Congress in their home districts. These events will be to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the proposed “fast track” process that essentially bypasses Congress to get it signed into law. The protests will specifically focus on the how TPP bans “Buy America” provisions that keep American taxpayer dollars here to create American jobs and boost American manufacturers and suppliers.
People the case against the TPP and “Fast Track” process at parades, picnics, BBQs, fairs and farmers markets where members of Congress will appear over the July 4 recess. People ask their representatives and senators where they stand on trading away Buy America preferences, American jobs, and wages in these trade agreements.
Trading Away Buy America?
The TPP is being negotiated in secret, but we know from leaks that it would require all companies in any TPP country get the same treatment as U.S. firms when bidding on government contracts over a certain size. Despite Buy American policies in place since 1933, this means American taxpayer dollars will instead go to the lowest foreign bidder instead of being guaranteed to American companies to create American jobs.
What Do WE Get?
What do we get in exchange for trading away Buy America? Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) spoke about this on a call Thursday discussing the upcoming events:
“Federal procurement is 10 times as large as the all of rest [of TPP countries] combined. We trade away preferential access to this $556 billion federal market to gain access to $53 billion of their procurement. We trade away our advantage here. This is in the wrong direction. Taxpayers want their money to create jobs in America not sweatshops in other countries.”
So our trade negotiators are trading away $556 billion to get $53 billion in an agreement that also sends American jobs out to sweatshops in other countries. Why? What do WE get?
Maybe the answer depends on what’s mean by “we,” and which “we” is negotiating and benefiting from this and past trade agreements. Is the “we” in these negotiations We the People, or is it the giant multinational corporations and the billionaires behind them? Who do our trade negotiators work for?
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said on a different call the other day that there are three kinds of people working to negotiate these trade agreements:
- People who used to work for the giant corporations that benefit from these agreements.
- People who want to work for the giant corporations that benefit from these agreements.
- People who used to work for the giant corporations that benefit from these agreements and want to work for the giant corporations that benefit from these agreements again.
So our trade negotiators are using those taxpayer dollars that currently go to Buy America as the incentive to get countries like Vietnam — with its 28-cent minimum wage — to sign on to letting giant multinational corporations harvest their impoverished workers for use in sweatshops. This doesn’t look like a deal negotiated to help American workers or Vietnamese workers, but more like a deal to help multinational corporations drive down wages around the world.
More From Thursday’s Call
On the Thursday call, DeLauro said this about the effect of one-sided pro-multinational corporation, anti-US worker trade agreements: “It is a tough economy, people want to see us create jobs and raise wages and restore economic growth. People remember what NAFTA did to America. We should not sign away our investment in our businesses and our workers.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said, “Buy America has been part of America’s politics since the Great Depression. Why hinder American companies and workers in these precarious economic times?”
Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), said, “The Buy America act gives US firms a leg up. Why should we let TPP and other agreements change that and further slash American jobs? The House passed an amendment to make it clear: do not kill Buy America. People will be putting that question to members this recess, do they stand for these policies to make sure trade agreements do not become a race to the bottom?”
Gillian Locascio, Coordinator of the Washington (state) Fair Trade Coalition, said, “People have watched what 25 years of NATFA-style trade agreements have done to their state. There will be rallies, letter drops and other activities asking Representatives to take a stand and not sign away congressional oversight of this secret agreement.”
House Votes To Cut Off Funding For Negotiating Away Buy America
In the meantime, the House unanimously passed by voice vote an amendment to cut off funding for negotiations of any trade agreements that undermine Buy American preferences. (Thanks to Grayson.) That’s right, unanimously. But the Senate still needs to do the same.
You can also help with a Communication Workers of America action. Click here to Tell your members of Congress to stand against “Fast Track” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is approved, American workers will be forced to compete with workers in countries like Vietnam, with a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour. It’s not just manufacturing jobs that are at risk – multinational corporations will happily auction off information technology and tech support jobs to the lowest bidder.
Negotiators are seeking “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which blocks any changes or amendments to the trade deal and only allows for an “up or down” vote by Congress.
Stopping fast track is the only real way to change the Trans-Pacific Partnership.