Unions Rally for Lawmakers to Vote Against Fast Track

WASHINGTON— Several hundred unionists fanned out over Capitol Hill on March 4 to lobby lawmakers to vote against so-called “fast-track” trade promotion authority.


A poll released during the rally in the Capitol shows 75 percent support “fair trade that protects workers, the environment and jobs” and 11 percent oppose that – Congress may be another matter.


Fast-track and the job-destroying “free trade” pacts that it would let President Barack Obama (D) jam through are one of the few issues that Obama, big business and most of Congress’ majority Republicans agree on.  And not all Democrats are on board with workers, either, several of the workers told Press Associates Union News Service.


The rally and lobbying, which included the Machinists, Steelworkers, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Communications Workers and the American Federation of Government Employees, was to convince Congress to deep-six fast-track.


Fast-track would let Obama push through three trade pacts: with Europe, public services and most dangerous, with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Congress couldn’t change the pacts, and all three would lack worker rights.


They also would let business use secret trade courts to challenge and override federal, state and local laws if those laws even threatened potential corporate profits, speakers said.  Everything from state minimum wage hikes to Buy American laws would be under the gun.


Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain blamed Congress for “a number of pressing issues: Income inequality, wages are stagnant, manufacturing is decaying, the minimum wage is too low, and families struggle.”


Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minn., co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pointed out the unionists are not alone.  Spreading his arms wide, he declared, “we’ve got a big coalition here and you have every right to feel enthusiastic and confident that we will win.”


He also reminded the workers to tell lawmakers that they, too, were shut out of the secret talks about the TPP – but big business was not.  Citing the U.S. Constitution, Ellison said workers should demand their lawmakers not cede their authority over trade.


Source: PAI