As trade negotiators from throughout the Pacific Rim gathered outside Dallas for a trade summit aimed at speeding the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement towards conclusion, Texans were out in force to demand a public voice in the negotiating process. With the help of Citizens Trade Campaign and the Texas Fair Trade Coalition, local labor, environmental and community advocates:
- Delivered over 42,000 petition signatures urging the U.S. Trade Representative to release the texts. Over 24,000 were presented during a media event with speakers from the Texas AFL-CIO, Lone Star Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America Local 6215, and then delivered to Assistant USTR Carol Guthrie. Later in the week, CTC hand-delivered an additional 18,000+ to lead U.S. negotiator Barbara Weisel during a stakeholder briefing, at which point she publicly stated USTR’s new position that “constantly evolving TPP chapter texts cannot be released to the public” — a rollback in transparency from both the current World Trade Organization negotiating process and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) of more than a decade ago.
- Followed up on the petition with a high-energy “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally and march. The demonstration started with a rally trade justice advocates from across Texas and the Pacific Rim. More than 300 people then marched over into the parking lot of the hotel where negotiators were meeting, before they were stopped by police. Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller led the march by asking “What are they trying to hide?,” and CTC Executive Director Arthur Stamoulis led the crowd in a spirited “mic check” directed at negotiators.
- Conducted a wide range of educational activities, including a teach-in moderated by the Dallas Peace Center, with fantastic presentations by Lori Wallach (Global Trade Watch), Celeste Drake (AFL-CIO), Ilana Solomon (Sierra Club) and Sanya Reid Smith (Third World Network). CTC staff also participated in a CWA-hosted telephone town hall, as well as meetings and events throughout the week with the Steelworkers, Teamsters, Building Trades, Sierra Club and Occupy Dallas. Occupy even live-streamed the May 12th rally.
Separate from CTC’s efforts, a number of independent activists also carried out a variety of stunts throughout the week, including a Yes Men award presentation; replacing hotel toilet paper with special TPP TP; projecting transparency messages onto the side of the hotel; putting flyers under negotiators’ hotel room doors; and more.
The next round of TPP negotiations will be in the United States from July 2 – 10, 2012, widely rumored to take place in Los Angeles.
Above: Texas AFL-CIO’s Becky Moeller and others
Above: Teamsters Local 745’s Brent Taylor
Above: CWA’s Claude Cummings
Above: Nancy Hall (CWA Local 6215), Hal Suter (Lone Star Sierra Club), Becky Moeller (Texas AFL-CIO) and Bob Cash (Texas Fair Trade Coalition)