What does it take to bring Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonObama to make clean energy pledge with Mexico, Canada: report Anti-Trump leaders sending 'advance team' to Cleveland: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpObama to make clean energy pledge with Mexico, Canada: report Anti-Trump leaders sending 'advance team' to Cleveland: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE together? One terrible trade deal - the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
We know a trade deal must be truly devastating to hardworking families when leading presidential candidates from opposite ends of the political spectrum find common ground in opposing it.
The fight to stop this trade agreement goes well beyond the presidential campaign trail. Ford Motor Company, AFL-CIO, Doctors without Borders, and Sierra Club have all called for the TPP to be rejected. If top presidential candidates, major corporations, labor unions, and global health care and environmental leaders opposing this deal isn’t a big caution sign, then what is?
Of course, the ultimate fate of the TPP rests in the hands of Congress. With that in mind, to any member of Congress who truly believes that this trade pact is good for America, we only have one thing to say – read it.
Members of Congress who support TPP should have the courage to publicly confirm to the people of this country that they have read every word of this massive 6,000 page trade deal before they vote for it.
We can’t imagine anyone supporting this deal after actually taking the time to fully absorb its impact, let alone read it. The text is filled with details that are both harrowing and harmful to everyone in America who is fighting to build a better life.
For example, Americans will be pushed into an unfair competition with workers in Vietnam who make less than a dollar per hour. The result will be a race to the bottom where corporations either lower wages or send jobs overseas.
The trade pact also includes extended patent monopolies for life-saving medicines. This means big pharmaceutical companies will be able to keep drug prices high by locking out more affordable generic versions.
As if lowering wages and raising drug prices wasn’t enough, the TPP will also force us to accept more seafood and meat imports from countries like Malaysia whose food safety standards are notoriously lax.
If you did not know some or all of these terrible details, don’t feel badly. The text of this 6,000-page deal has only recently been made public. Unaccountable trade representatives negotiated the deal in nearly complete secrecy, and it’s clear that corporate lawyers stuffed it full of complicated, dense, legal language that benefits their special interest clients at the expense of everyone else.
Given what we know about who negotiated the deal, how they negotiated it, and what they ultimately wrote, it is incomprehensible how any reasonable person could believe that this deal benefits a majority of hardworking men and women and their families. This deal might be good for corporate donors, but for a vast majority of Americans it spells disaster and must be stopped.
As such, we, the 1.3 million hardworking members of the UFCW family, along with countless allies, will be asking every member of Congress – Republican and Democrat – to pledge to read every page of the TPP before they vote on it.
We hazard to guess that not one supporter of TPP in Congress has ever read the full text, which naturally begs the question, why are they planning to vote for it?
When fully printed, the pages of the TPP trade agreement stand nearly 4 feet tall. But there is just too much at stake for any member of Congress to vote on this deal without reading it.
We urge anyone who believes in building a better America to join us in this effort. Simply asking Congress to read a trade bill before they vote on it shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
Perrone is president of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.