Unions plan Capitol Hill trade blitz

Labor unions are ramping up their campaign against trade promotion authority (TPA) with a planned blitz on Capitol Hill. 

A group of unions led by the AFL-CIO sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday urging lawmakers to oppose fast-track authority.

{mosads}On Wednesday, those groups plan to swamp Capitol Hill to argue that trade deals are bad for jobs and wages and that “fast track trade means fewer jobs, lower wages and a declining middle class.”

More than 425 union members including the United Steelworkers (USW), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will be on Capitol Hill to meet with more than 100 lawmakers to lobby against TPA.

“These deals, written by and for the world’s largest corporations, don’t create jobs,” they wrote in Tuesday’s letter.

Fast-track would expedite any trade pacts through Congress, allowing an up-or-down vote on deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which negotiators are hoping to wrap up this spring.

“Fast track is an undemocratic, unaccountable and completely unacceptable way to develop economic policies that affect us all,” the letter said.

“America needs a new version of trade negotiating authority that brings the process out from behind closed doors and prioritizes making life better for people, instead of just making life better for corporations.

TPA negotiations continue in Congress with Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pressing for the inclusion of a provision that would make it easier for Congress to remove fast-track authority after it’s in place if lawmakers don’t like the trade deal. 

Meanwhile, top business executives made another call for Congress to give President Obama the authority to negotiate trade deals.

Many trade supporters say that the nations involved in the TPP talks won’t put their best offers on the table until they get a guarantee from Congress that lawmakers won’t amend the long-awaited agreement.

The CEOs said in their latest economic outlook survey that greater market access around the world would help them boost hiring.

Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the bulk of the Cabinet are trying to convince skeptical Democrats to support TPA, arguing that it gives Congress more say in the process of shaping the trade agreements.

Administration officials who are engaged in a massive lobbying campaign to grow support fast-track, also argue that the United States must be out front in writing the rules of global trade or face leaving a vast void that China will fill in with less ambitious rules. 

Tags AFL–CIO Fast track Michael Froman Michael Froman President Obama Richard Trumka Ron Wyden Ron Wyden Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
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