Senator Wyden: Fast Track is a Flop! Floppy Petition Deliveries!
Trade Justice Advocates across in Oregon will deliver petitions to Ron Wyden’s offices across the state with the message that Fast Track is as outdated as a Floppy Disc!
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) just took over as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee — one of the most powerful positions in the entire federal government. As such, Senator Wyden will play a deciding role in how trade policy moves forward in this country.
Senator Wyden has repeatedly called for transparency in the TPP negotiations. At a constituent event this month, he promised to continue pushing for it, and over two years ago, he wrote to Oregon Fair Trade Campaign and Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice saying, “U.S. trade negotiators should be required to — at a minimum — share with the public the proposals they are putting forward, as they put them forward, in negotiations. Obama’s trade negotiators cannot be allowed to shroud their goals in secret because, after all, they are supposed to be negotiating on our behalf — on behalf of workers and everyone who simply seeks to make a decent income for an honest day’s work.”
Now Senator Wyden is in a position to make transparency in U.S. trade negotiations a reality. The first step is abandoning the outdated and inappropriate Fast Track mechanism, which allows trade negotiators to keep their proposals hidden from the public until after pacts are signed, amendments are prohibited and changes become all but impossible.
Fast Track was first cooked up during the Nixon Administration, when trade policy primarily covered tariffs, quotas and customs practices. As questionable as rushing trade agreements through Congress was back in the 1970s, it is clearly ill-suited for modern times when trade deals also cover energy policy, Internet protocols, medicine patents, labor rights, environmental protections, government procurement, financial regulations and more.
A healthy economy, environment and democracy — whether locally, nationally or globally — require transparent and participatory public policy-making, not obsolete Congressional rubber-stamps.
TAKE ACTION: Sign our “floppy disk” petition urging Senator Wyden to say NO to Fast Track for the TPP and other trade pacts. Your electronic petition signature will be printed out, adhered to an old-fashioned 5.25″ floppy disk and hand-delivered to Senator Wyden’s office to drive home the point that Fast Track is outdated and needs to come to an end.
There are already petition deliveries during the next Senate Recess in the following cities:
Bend – Wednesday, March 19th at 12 noon
Senator Wyden’s Office * 131 NW Hawthorne Ave., Suite 107. Bend
Portland – Thursday, March 20th at 12 noon
In the federal building plaza at Senator Ron Wyden’s Portland office.
911 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR
Eugene – Thursday, March 20th at 12 noon
Senator Wyden’s Office * 405 East 8th Ave., Suite 2020, Eugene
Medford – Date and time TBA
As new chair of the committee that decides whether or not Fast Track will move forward, Senator Wyden is in a position to retire this obsolete and undemocratic policy-making procedure once-and-for-all. Please help us defeat Fast Track by signing the petition to Senator Wyden and participating in a petition delivery near you!
Monthly Regional Organizing Committee Meetings
ORFTC supports volunteer-led trade justice organizing committees that meet regularly in Portland and Salem, and irregularly in Eugene. To get involved, please email Elizabeth Swager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (503) 736-9777.
We also maintain a database of supporters throughout the state called the Trade Action Network that we call upon several times each year to submit Letters to the Editor, bird-dog at elected officials’ “Town Hall” meetings and help distribute information. Contact Elizabeth at the address or number above, and she’ll be glad to add you.
Examples of Past Events
Fair trade activist hand Obama the pink slip for his support of job-killing free trade agreements.
Just prior to a new TPP negotiating round in Peru, trade activist, faith leaders, labor and the 99% who are harmed by corporate globalization gathered to oppose the TPP.
We stood with cities and towns around the world holding community assemblies to discuss the problems with the TPP and the free trade model during the 17th round of TPP negotiations in Lima, Peru. We remembered that multi-national community resistance put a freeze on the WTO. It stopped the Free Trade Area of the Americas. It can stop the TPP.
Jackson County Peoples’ Assembly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
SUN APRIL 28TH 4:30PM
At the Grass Shack Cafe – 205 Fern Valley Rd.
Phoenix, Oregon (Ext 24 off I-5)
Eugene/Springfields Peoples’ Assembly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
MON APRIL 29TH 6:00PM
AFSCME Bldg., 688 Charnelton St, Eugene, OR
PDX Peoples’ Assembly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
SAT MAY 11TH (International Fair Trade Day!) 1:00PM
First Unitarian Church
SW 12th Ave and Main St., Portland, OR 97205
Train the Trainers – Tools to Stop the TPP!
Fair Trade, Labor and Environmental Justice Advocates gathered to learn more about the next corporate power grab with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We learned that for decades corporations have been trying to dominate the global economic system through the WTO and various Free Trade Agreements. Broad-based organizing at the Battle in Seattle and again with the Free Trade Area of the Americas shut down that corporate agenda!
We will take those lessons to heart as we take on a massive new Free Trade Agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that, if it moves forward, would trade good paying jobs for sweatshop labor, further consolidate power into Big Ag while destroying small farms, block access to affordable medication and undermine environmental protections.
Big thank you to Kristin Beifus, Executive Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition based in Seattle, for sharing a powerful presentation that participants can share with their unions, environmental and social justice groups, churches and more.
Past Event: D5 —Mobilizing Against the 2009 WTO Ministerial
As part of the global days of action against the new World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial, thousands of people from across the Pacific Northwest converged in downtown Portland on December 5th to speak out against the proposed expansion of failed “free trade” policies within the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign led a coalition of more than 75 labor, environmental, immigrant rights, faith and social justice groups in organizing the mass march and rally.
That week, the WTO held its largest negotiations on international trade and investment in many years in Geneva, Switzerland. On their agenda was the expansion of trade pacts that would:
- Cause further offshoring of Oregon jobs
- Prohibit new banking regulations designed to prevent the next financial crisis
- Force global warming policies to conform with restrictive commercial agreements
- Expand agricultural practices that push small farmers off their land and force migration
- Require countries to accept imported foods and consumer goods that fail to meet local safety standards
Thank you to everyone who made the “D5″ demonstration such a powerful event! To learn more about it, please visit www.december5.org.
Thanks to the hard work of fair trade activists around the globe, the WTO negotiations in Geneva didn’t make much progress. Unfortunately, the same corporate interests behind the WTO are trying to advance their agenda through regional and bilateral trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the South Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Photos courtesy of Jerry Atkin, Pete Shaw and Bette Lee, respectively.
Past Event: THE FUTURE OF TRADE
A Public Forum on the Local Impacts of Free Trade Agreements — and Opportunities for Change
** Highlights from this event are available at:
Tuesday, October 14 * 7:00 pm
First Unitarian Church * Portland, OR
In the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, how can we turn around the economy for working people?
Re-writing the nation’s trade policy is a major part of the solution. Trade policy affects everything from jobs and wages, to immigration, to the value of the U.S. dollar — and the opportunity for progressive change is now stronger than it has been at any point over the past fifteen years.
This free and open public forum will feature a panel discussion, testimonials from affected workers and a response from political candidates. Panelists include:
* Tom Chamberlain, President, Oregon AFL-CIO. On job loss and wage stagnation due to existing trade agreements.
* Erica Maharg, Columbia Group Chair, Oregon Sierra Club. On the connections between “free trade” and increased global warming.
* Ken Allen, Executive Director, Oregon AFSCME. On the potential for increased offshoring of service sector jobs.
* Arthur Stamoulis, Director, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. On the TRADE Act and opportunities for change.
ALSO HEAR JEFF MERKLEY’S VIEWSON TRADE: U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley will also respond to the panelists and share his views on trade. Gordon Smith declined an invitation to participate.
Past Event: Portland Assembly on Free Trade and Job Loss
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Portland Community College – Cascade Campus
Allan Brannan was one of hundreds to lose his job at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Camas, Washington last year. Today, Brannan works as a Peer Outreach Counselor for others who have lost their jobs due to international trade.
On the evening of July 19, Brannan and displaced workers from a wide range of industries participated in a forum on free trade and job loss organized by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. Held at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus, they discussed impacts that free trade agreements are having on communities in the Portland metro area, and the opportunities available to fight back.
“When I was hired at the mill, I thought I had hit the lottery of jobs. I had a family-wage job with good benefits. I thought I was going to retire there,” Brannan said at the forum. “Being a Peer Advocate is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I often have to respond to former co-workers saying things like, ‘My wife thinks I’m a loser.’ ‘How can I afford health insurance for my family?’ ‘I’m going to be evicted.’ … There are very few opportunities for me or my co-workers to recover.”
The job loss experienced at the Camas mill, and countless other workplaces throughout the United States, is the direct result of free trade policies that make it easy for large corporations to relocate jobs abroad, where labor and environmental standards are much, much weaker. Even those companies that would like to keep production in the U.S. face difficulties when forced to compete with low-cost foreign imports.
“NAFTA affects every one in the United States who wants the quality of life of our parents before us. The cream of Middle America is being skimmed off. We have been asleep and in the dark for too long,” said Victor Pierce, a current employee at Portland’s Freightliner Truck Plant, worried that his job may soon be sent to Mexico. More than 800 jobs at the Freightliner Portland Truck Plant have already been shipped abroad this year, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
“Healthy economies are supposed to include healthy standards of living and have basic labor standards,” Brannan said. “The countries that the U.S. is entering into trade agreements with often lag centuries behind when it comes to labor rights… Many of our trade agreements include environmental clauses, but they are so thoroughly ignored and unenforced that one wonders why they even bother including them.”
Many participants in the event had already lost one or more jobs to offshoring, and spoke of the difficulties finding family-wage replacement jobs. Others spoke about worries that their jobs could be offshored, and about the downward pressure on wages that offshoring creates across all sectors of the economy.
“High tech is often presented as a field where displaced workers can find a six-figure salary with minimal training,” said Mitch Besser, a high-tech worker with a Masters in Software Design and Development and more than 20 years of experience in the sector. “If you work in high-tech industries it is extremely likely you will be threatened with having your job sent overseas. Companies across the board are looking globally for the cheapest sources of labor they can find.”
One of the major messages highlighted by event organizers is that the United States is now at a crossroads when it comes to trade policy. On July 1, Fast Track trade promotion authority expired. For years, Fast Track rushed free trade agreements through Congress by eliminating ordinary committee review, amendment and debate procedures. This trade policymaking mechanism, first cooked up by the Nixon administration, was responsible for trade pacts like NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and favored trade relations with China.
“With Fast Track’s death, future NAFTA-style trade deals will be nearly impossible to negotiate and pass through Congress,” said Arthur Stamoulis, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “Unfortunately, the Bush administration signed four new free trade agreements just before Fast Track expired.”
These new pacts with Peru, Colombia, Panama and Korea could come up for a vote in Congress as early as September. It is crucial that people contact their Members of Congress and demand they vote no on these trade agreements, Stamoulis said. If these deals are defeated, it should spell the end of NAFTA-style trade agreements once-and-for-all. Without Fast Track, the Free Traders won’t be able to negotiate free trade pacts any more.
But if these deals pass — and especially if they pass by a wide margin — that will send a signal that business elites can continue slipping free trade agreements past the American people. It could give them the momentum needed to get Fast Track renewed, and that would be a disaster for working people in the United States and around the world.
“This is the best chance we’ve had in well over a decade to shape how international trade will be conducted,” said Stamoulis. “You can be sure the Free Traders are lobbying hard for their side. We need to stand up for what we believe in.”
Past Event: THERE GO OUR JOBS!
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Portland Federal Building
Thank you to the more than 200 people who attended this rally! Speakers included Freightliner workers and Tom Chamberlain, Oregon AFL-CIO President.
Portland is the home of Freightliner Trucks. They have been built in Portland for more than 50 years. Some production workers are 2nd and 3rd generation Freightliner employees. These have been family-wage union jobs since the 1940’s. Now Freightliner will stop making the Freightliner brand here and is permanently laying off 800 union workers, with most of their jobs going to Mexico. This is the second major layoff at Freightliner to qualify for Trade Act assistance, because the Labor Department certified the jobs were going to Mexico. In 1999 there were 2600 IAM (Machinists Union) jobs at Freightliner, and now only 650 will be left.
Free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO (all of which were approved under “Fast Track” trade promotion authority) make it easier for companies like Freightliner to ship Oregon jobs out of the country—yet Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith continue to support Fast Track and NAFTA-style trade deals.
Join recently laid-off Freightliner workers and others in telling our elected officials that giving away Oregon jobs is something we take seriously. Let’s stand up and say NO to the expansion of Fast Track and NAFTA-style trade pacts.
How Government Policies Lead to Local Job Loss
• The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar trade policies enable companies to ship Oregon jobs to foreign countries with dismal labor standards and then import products back into the United States for sale to U.S. consumers.
• 68,000 Oregon jobs have already been lost due to these NAFTA-style trade policies—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg if these policies continue to expand.
• NAFTA, CAFTA, the WTO and other bad trade pacts were approved under a policymaking procedure known as “Fast Track,” which eliminates ordinary Congressional review, mark-up and oversight of trade agreements, while giving large corporations special access to trade negotiators.
• Since Fast Track was cooked up by the Nixon administration in 1974, real hourly wages for the average American worker have only increased by 5 cents—despite an almost doubling in worker productivity. The offshoring of jobs has created downward pressure on wages across all sectors of the workforce.
• Fast Track expires this summer and can only be renewed with Congressional approval. If Fast Track is stopped, future NAFTA-style trade deals are dead in the water. If Fast Track is extended, hundreds of thousands of additional Oregon jobs will be put at risk of offshoring. Now is the time to speak out!
• Call Senator Ron Wyden at 503-326-7525 and Senator Gordon Smith at 503-326-3386 and tell them you oppose Fast Track renewal.
International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 1005
Teamsters Local 305
Painters Local 1094
SEIU Local 49
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign
Portland Jobs With Justice
Cross Border Labor Organizing Council (CBLOC)
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8
Northwest Oregon Labor Council
Past Event: The Hermiston Assembly on Free Trade and Job Loss
Read about our recent Hermiston event in this cover story from the East Oregonian:
Ex-Simplot workers support fair trade campaign
Effort seeks to prevent outsourcing, job losses
Friday, January 19, 2007
By Dean Brickey
of the East Oregonian
HERMISTON — Angie Kile and other ex-Simplot employees are fighting to prevent others from going through what they did.
Kile was among several who spoke at a meeting Thursday night organized by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. The meeting at Hermiston High School attracted more than 50 people. Most were among the 600 that Simplot’s Hermiston potato processing plant employed before it closed in late 2004.
Kari Koch of Portland, the campaign’s program director, said the time is ripe to get elected officials’ attention. She encouraged the displaced employees to spread the message that our-sourcing employment to other countries is bad for American workers.
“A lot of people got elected into office in November who are with us on this issues,” Koch said. “It’s our chance to get fair trade policies implemented.”
She also circulated a petition, which most signed, that demands elected officials stand up for fair trade. She said national policies such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free trade Agreement (CAFTA) have damaged the U.S. economy. That has occurred because American workers have lost their jobs to workers in other countries, resulting in a lower standard of living for those displaced workers and more lower-quality imported goods on America’s store shelves.
Kile, who works as a Union Pacific electrician, said she’s one of the few lucky ones who benefited from training after losing her Simplot job.
“I’ve seen whole families destroyed by this because this was their whole income,” she said. “It’s sad and it’s despicable the way we got thrown out on the street.”
Jason Weyand of Pendleton, representing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said a plant close like Simplot’s affects more than the workers, it results in a loss of tax revenue, which translates to government job cutbacks and a loss of public services.
“That’s ironic, because they’re needed more,” he said. “It’s a bad time to start losing those positions.”
Weyand also said a plant closure often pushes down wages at neighboring industries because as the demand for jobs increases, employers can hire workers for less.
“Free trade is damaging all professions,” he said.
Manuel Gutierrez, a Hermiston city councilman, said Simplot had a $15 million payroll in Hermiston, and the plant’s closure had a domino effect in the community.
Speaking in English and Spanish, he encouraged those in the crowd who were not U.S. citizens to obtain their citizenship so they can vote.