fresh voices from the front lines of change







A trade agreement created to benefit American corporations is being fast-tracked in secret, leaving economists and labor activists concerned. And today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took those concerns to an audience of economic and foreign-policy elites at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“The American labor movement has long said, loud and clear, that good trade agreements must improve wages and working conditions for workers around the globe, not just here in the United States. We have insisted, and will continue to insist, that has to be the yardstick we use to measure trade deals.” Trumka said.

Trumka's speech detailed his concerns regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the fast-track trade promotion authority legislation that would allow the treaty to be approved by Congress with no amendments and limited debate, and the need for higher wages around the world. He argued that our current trade policy does not benefit Americans and is conducive to unsafe working conditions and low wages around the world. Trade has often been used as an investment for corporations instead of an exchange that would enhance workers earnings and multiple economies, he said.

One of the most troubling aspects of TPP is how few people have seen the entire treaty, Trumka said. So far only leaked portions have been released that clearly favor a race to the bottom, putting corporate interests over investment in human and environmental rights. Trumka outlined specific portions of TPP he found highly problematic while making a case for American interests that respect workers needs around the world.

Trumka’s primary goal is to defeat fast-track legislation in Congress and potentially reject the TPP if these concerns aren’t properly addressed.

Video and audio of the speech is posted on the Peterson Institute for International Economics website, along with a transcript.

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