On Wednesday, June 3, opponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will stage a massive call-in to members of the US House of Representatives. Callers will tell their member of Congress to vote no on fast track authority for TPP, a massive trade deal between the US and eleven Pacific Rim countries.
Fast track authority for the trade deal would limit debate on the deal, prevent representatives from offering amendments that could make the deal more palatable, and prevent Congress and congressional staff from thoroughly vetting the complex deal.
In addition to the call-in, the coalition of groups opposing TPP will hold demonstrations and other events during the week of June 1-7 to convince undecided lawmakers to vote no.
“We’re throwing everything we have at the fast track vote in the House because everything is on the line,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Those opposed to TPP include union members concerned that TPP will result in more jobs being shipped abroad and lower wages for the jobs that remain in the US; environmentalists concerned that TPP will make it more difficult to pass laws protecting the environment; consumer advocates concerned that TPP will protect corporate interests at the expense of consumers, and social justice advocates concerned that TPP will make the rich richer and the rest of us poorer.
The week of action during the first week in June comes after the Senate voted 62 to 38 to approve fast track authority.
Cohen told CWA members during a union hall teleconference that he was encouraged that so many Senators voted to oppose fast track authority.
We knew that fast track would pass in the Senate, said Cohen. But we were surprised that so many senators vote no. So were the fast track supporters.
Cohen attributed the stiff resistance in the Senate to a well-organized grassroots mobilizing effort.
That grassroots mobilizing work is intensifying as fast track for TPP moves to the House.
In San Antonio, Texas, opponents are trying to convince the undecided Rep, Joaquin Castro to vote no.
A coalition of Texas groups opposing fast track has called a town hall meeting to have a conversation on trade deals. They’ve invited Rep. Castro and hope that a strong showing at the event will convince him to vote no.
The conversation will take place from 11:00 A.M. until 1 P.M. at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro Ave. Groups sponsoring the conversation include the San Antonio AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, Teamsters, Sierra Club, Presente.org, Fuerza Unida, Fair Trade Coalition, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Texas Organizing Project, and Move San Antonio.
In California, two undecided representatives from San Diego, Rep. Susan Davis and Rep. Scott Peters. will be hearing from constituents urging the two to vote no on fast track.
Since early May, voters in San Diego have been hearing a radio and online ad sponsored by the Sierra Club explaining what is at stake when Congress votes on TPP fast track authority.
The ad criticizes the TPP for being negotiated in secret.
“Why the secrecy?” asks the ad’s narrator. “Because TPP would grant enormous new rights to multinational corporations and make it harder for our nation to safeguard our food, our jobs, and our air, water, and climate.”
A report by CWA also explains the devastating effect that TPP could have jobs in the San Diego area.
According to the report, “The Impact of Trade Agreements on the San Diego Service Sector,” as many as 325,000 service jobs could be at risk of being offshored.
For the most part, the jobs that could be shipped abroad are decent paying jobs.
“The San Diego service sector jobs at risk of being offshored include 19,040 customer service representatives who earn an average annual salary of $37,850; 3,500 computer programmers who average $83,810 a year; 2,530 financial analysts who average $89,770; 14,300 Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks who average $41,590 a year; and 285,340 additional workers spread across another 156 occupations,” reads the report.
In the state of Washington, where several representatives have not committed on how they will vote, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 367 is phone banking to mobilize members to take action against TPP.
“What little we have seen about this secret agreement points toward the TPP being another pro-corporate trade deal with low standards,” said Nathe Lawver, Local 367’s communications director. “Anyone who likes to eat safe food, have a roof over their head, and work for fair pay needs to be actively fighting against the TPP.”