Unions Urge Intl. Trade Commission to Halt TPP

WASHINGTON —The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “trade pact” between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations would harm U.S. workers in a wide variety of ways and worsen income inequality here, union representatives told the International Trade Commission.


Speaking at the opening of three days of ITC hearings on the trade pact, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and AFL-CIO trade specialist Celeste Drake explained TPP’s negative impact on U.S. workers and the economy.


“It is a path leading to more off-shored production and outsourced jobs as well as continuing income stagnation, or declines and lost opportunity,” Gerard said.


The ITC held the hearings Jan. 15-17 to help it prepare a report for Congress on the trade pact and its impact. Most ITC witnesses were business lobbyists backing the TPP. The report is due in 105 days, before lawmakers vote on legislation to implement the trade pact.


Gerard, Drake, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., all urged the ITC to evaluate the trade pact based on experience with the impact of past trade pacts, including declining U.S. wages and loss of high-paying factory jobs.


That will particularly affect not just autos, but auto parts, many of them made with steel. The TPP would let the 11 nations also manipulate “rules of origin” to bring in parts they import at low cost and transship them to the U.S., the senator explained. That costs U.S. auto part workers jobs.


Gerard also pointed out that past experience with trade pacts has led to shuttered factories, jobless workers, declining wages and dozens of trade cases before the ITC and federal agencies, detailing unfair foreign trade. The Steelworkers have led both U.S. labor and business in gathering evidence for and filing those complaints.


Under “fast-track” trade rules, lawmakers can take only one up-or-down vote each in the House and the Senate. Only a simple majority can pass the TPP implementation bill. Debate is limited and lawmakers can’t change the legislation to protect workers.


The TPP’s harms have led to an intense labor-led campaign, joined by many other organizations, to overturn and defeat the pro-TPP legislation.


Drake and Gerard explained to the ITC that unions are not against trade, but are against unbalanced trade rules.


Source: PAI