Save California’s Jobs And Environment, Oppose Fast­-Tracking Trade Deal

Junior Romero
CA Associate Representative with Sierra Club National

From Washington D.C., to Sacramento, CA, millions of labor, environmental, community and human rights activists are raising our voices in an otherwise secretive discussion on the future of our global economy, Sierra Club determinedly among them.

We’re concerned about the position of Northern California’s Congressional delegation when it comes to “free” trade pacts that will threaten our families, our jobs, and our access to clean water and clean air.

U.S. lawmakers are negotiating the Trans­-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a massive trade pact with 11 other countries – including Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, and others – that will cost us jobs and jeopardize our clean air and water by endangering critical environmental protections.

Trade can be a good thing if it’s done responsibly. As environmentalists and workers, we can come together to support trade deals if they improve our economy, protect our environment, and uplift our overall quality of life. But from what we’ve seen from leaked trade texts, the TPP will drag us in the opposite direction by offshoring our jobs, eroding our wages, and leaving environmental and consumer protections vulnerable to new attacks from corporations.

We already know how bad trade deals hurt our jobs and wages. The U.S. was promised economic prosperity from opening up trade with Mexico and Canada 20 years ago with the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. But this ultimately hasn’t been the case. NAFTA led to devastating job losses across our nation, including a net loss of 86,500 California jobs. NAFTA hurt California’s economy and helped depress the wages of its workers.

The TPP will make things even worse because we’ll be competing with corporations relocating to countries like Vietnam, where the average minimum wage is a meager 56 cents per hour.

This agreement will also allow foreign corporations to sue the U.S. over laws that they allege could cut into their profits. That includes laws designed to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food on our dinner tables. Californian taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the tab to defend American laws against foreign corporations using secret court systems against us.

This corporate empowerment will pose a massive threat to our environment, and the chapter of the trade deal dedicated to the environment would in practice do nothing to help, from what we know. A draft of the chapter was leaked earlier this year, showing weak language about all of the region’s main conservation issues oceans, fish, wildlife, and forest protections. Without fully enforceable environmental safeguards in the Pacific Rim region, natural wonders like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Peru’s Amazon rainforest, and California’s Stanislaus and Mendocino National Parks could be destroyed.

It comes as no surprise that the American people are not fooled by these trade agreements. According to a bipartisan poll—found at fasttrackpoll.info—62 percent of voters oppose giving President Obama “fast track” authority over the TPP. With fast track, Congress would not be allowed to make any changes to the deal before it’s signed. This is such a bad deal that 43 percent of voters—including 68 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Independents—stated that they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supported fast track.

The fight over the TPP will probably come to a head in the next few weeks, when members are expected to introduce a new proposal for fast track.

We need our representatives in D.C., like Congress members Bera and Matsui to put Californian’s first, not corporations and big polluters.

We hope that each member of our Northern California congressional delegation will join us in the fight to protect our jobs, wages, environment, food, prescription drugs, health, and national sovereignty by making a public commitment to oppose fast tracking the Trans­-Pacific Partnership.

Share this article: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.