Fair trade activists set off on a two-day “Fair Trade or BusTour” across the Pacific Northwest in February 2015 to raise awareness of the risks of fast-tracking the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress. The tour highlighted the risks the trade deal poses to jobs, wages, the environment and public health.
“We become state legislators to create policies that bolster our middle class, counter climate change, and keep the food we eat safe,” said Washington Senator Maralyn Chase. “In its current form, the TPP would tie our hands, creating special corporate courts where foreign companies can sue the government for any future profits our policies cost them. These are rights that not even national companies have. We cannot afford to fast track a trade agreement that poses such a threat to our sovereignty and democracy.”
Imbalanced trade with Pacific Rim nations has already led to significant job loss in the Pacific Northwest, a trend many believe would accelerate by fast tracking the TPP. Over 100,000 net jobs were displaced from Oregon and Washington under the first decade of a 2001 trade policy focused on China alone. The TPP is a 12-nation pact that would govern approximately 40 percent of the global economy.
“Our trade policies should be promoting balanced trade,” said Rob Sisk, President of SEIU 503. “Fast track for this new trade proposal with countries like Vietnam and Malaysia where workers are even more exploited than they are in China would only worsen our trade deficit, offshore more good-paying jobs and drive down the wages and benefits in the jobs that are left.”
The bus tour, organized by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Sierra Club and other supporting groups, brings together activists from a broad variety of movements who share the desire for a new model of trade that promotes a sustainable future.
“We’d love to be loading more Washington-made goods onto ships in the Port of Tacoma,” said Dean McGrath, President of ILWU 23. “If that’s ever going to happen, Congress needs to stop rubber-stamping business-as-usual trade deals that create a race-to-the-bottom in labor and environmental standards. We should be pushing to improve working standards overseas, not forcing people here to compete with sweatshop wages.”
As trade expands, so do the threats to our air, water, and environment. In particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would expand dangerous fracking in the U.S., let foreign corporations challenge our clean air and water protections, and increase climate-disrupting emissions.
“It’s not just jobs that are threatened by the TPP,” said Andy Maggi, director of the Oregon Sierra Club. “Fast track legislation would eliminate Congress’ authority over TPP provisions that affect environmental protections, food safety standards, medicine patents, financial regulations, public procurement preferences, and more.”
To view a list of the Fair Trade or BusTour events, click here.