Labor, Environmental Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance and their allies today reacted to the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and urged Congress to vote “no” on the TPP.

November 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC (November 10, 2015) – Leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance—a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations—and their allies today reacted to the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was released late last week. The leaders identified four key areas where the agreement falls short—including the risk to American manufacturing jobs, the Investor-State Dispute System, and labor and environmental standards—and urged Congress to vote “no” on the TPP.

“The TPP undermines our manufacturing sector and, like NAFTA, KORUS and other free trade agreements before, will ship good-paying American jobs overseas,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “The TPP would richly reward gigantic multi-national corporations that already have moved or plan to move U.S. factories to low-wage, low-standard TPP countries. This is a bad deal for American workers.”

Gerard pointed to the impact of past trade agreements, including the last ratified agreement completed in 2012 between the U.S. and Korea (KORUS), which caused a net loss of 75,000 jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In the first three years after that agreement took effect, U.S. domestic exports to Korea increased by only $0.8 billion—or 1.8 percent. Imports from Korea increased $12.6 billion, an increase of 22.5 percent.

The leaders also highlighted the TPP’s flawed Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), which could allow an unelected tribunal to veto America’s environmental and labor laws at the behest of corporations. The system also allows companies to be compensated for damages.

“Corporations have been using the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement process to attack common-sense air, water, and climate protections for years. The TPP would only make a bad situation worse, expanding this system to thousands of new corporations for the first time ever,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The TPP is a toxic deal for American families. We can’t afford to trade away our ability to protect workers and communities, our environment, and our climate. This corporate giveaway is just another reason why Congress should reject the TPP.”

“Even a cursory review demonstrates how the Trans-Pacific Partnership fails working families. It forces the U.S. to compete with countries with low-wage workers. It’s a deal negotiated by and for the 1 percent, and our broad coalition will continue to oppose it,” said Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Chris Shelton.

Celeste Drake, Trade Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO, raised concerns about how the agreement will impact the rights of working people.

“The TPP is a corporate rights agreement that threatens good jobs and wages in the U.S. while allowing worker abuses abroad to continue unabated,” said AFL-CIO Trade Policy Specialist Celeste Drake. “Instead of incorporating new mechanisms to create a race to the top for workers and the environment, it repeats the special interest giveaways we’ve seen in past agreements.”

In terms of environmental protections, the groups said that the agreement may not force countries to live up to obligations on key international agreements or to stop illegal and unsustainable activities that are destroying the ocean, wildlife, and forests.

“This trade agreement would allow foreign corporations to challenge our health, safety and environmental protections in a foreign tribunal outside our legal system, and it would weaken those bedrock safeguards in the United States. While there are some positive conservation measures, the agreement’s substantial shortcomings should lead Congress to reject it,” said Jake Schmidt, International Program Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Listen to the call below.