Faces of Free Trade and Job Loss
Larry was a 22-year veteran of Roseburg Forest Products, who lost his job due to increased foreign imports.
"There are lots of jobs out here at minimum wage. Most people can't afford those jobs. They'll lose everything. You just drive through the area and look at the 'FOR SALE' signs. It's terrible... You're just working from day to day and existing. And hoping that something awful doesn't happen."
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Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is currently deciding whether to join Republicans in cosponsoring “Fast Track” legislation that would allowing pending trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures.
Modern trade agreements affect far more than just traditional “trade” matters such as tariffs and quotas. The TPP is a proposed 12-nation pact that would set rules governing approximately 40% of the global economy. It’s 29 separate chapters could adversely impact jobs and wages; access to medicine; environmental protections; food safety standards; financial regulations; public procurement preferences; and more. The TPP needs to be carefully reviewed and debated, not given a Fast Track rubber stamp.
Hundreds of organizations have written to Senator Wyden urging that he oppose Fast Track for the TPP, and instead support a democratic and accountable trade policy-making process. A recent public opinion poll shows that 73% of Oregonians also oppose Fast Track legislation.
Senator Wyden is the highest-ranking Democratic Senator in the country when it comes to overseeing trade policy, so his position on this issue matters. In 2014, after considerable pressure from Oregonians and people throughout the world, he opposed Fast Track legislation. We want him to oppose Fast Track again this year.
Please email Senator Wyden now and urge him to oppose Fast Track for the TPP.
On Sept. 2, 2014, we held actions in Portland, Eugene and Medford, where we delivered over 5,000 signatures from Oregonians who sent the message to Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden that “Smart Track” can’t be Fast Track in disguise.
Sen. Ron Wyden has publicly announced that he plans to replace the Fast Track trade negotiating process with legislation he is calling “Smart Track.” We all know that Fast Track is an undemocratic process that allows harmful trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be sped through Congress without ordinary review,amendment and debate procedures. Fast Track is outdated and inappropriate for modern trade agreements, and certainly needs to be replaced.
However, we don’t know what is in “Smart Track” since Senator Wyden’s bill is not yet drafted. It could become a means for advancing democracy and accountability in trade policymaking — but we’re worried that, without constituent input, “Smart Track” may just become Fast Track in disguise.
Excitement is building as Oregon gears up to get GMO labeling on the ballot this summer. Food justice advocates have launched a powerful statewide Right to Know GMO campaign. We do have a right to know what’s in our food, so we can make our own decisions about what we eat and feed our families.
At the same time, trade negotiators are meeting in secret on a free trade agreement that could jeopardize these efforts. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens to pull the rug out from under any policies to regulate GMO foods.
The TPP is a massive free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the U.S and eleven other countries in the Pacific Rim. And guess who is at the negotiating table? Former lobbyist for Monsanto, Islam Siggique is the chief U.S. Negotiator for the TPP’s chapters on agriculture.
The TPP would empower corporations to seek financial compensation for non-tariff barriers to trade. And in the eyes of Monsanto and other Big Ag companies, GMO labeling could easily fit the bill.
For our 2014 annual roadshow, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (ORFTC) teamed up with Food and Water Watch to do a series of forums across the state on the TPP and GMO Labeling in Oregon.
Unite to Stop the TPP as it threatens to:
* Abolish GMO Labels as a barrier to trade
* Allow corporations to sue countries for lost profits for banning GMOs
* Promote GMO seed monopolies
* Lower international food safety standards
Floppy Disk Petition Urges Senator Wyden to Oppose Outdated Trade Policy
Over 10,000 Petition Signatures Adhered to Floppy Disks Delivered to Senator’s Offices Across the State
Portland, Ore. — Fair trade advocates delivered over 10,000 petition signatures adhered to old-fashioned 5.25″ floppy diskettes to Senator Ron Wyden’s offices throughout the state this week. The petition, spearheaded by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign and Fight for the Future, urges the Senator to oppose the renewal of 1970s-era “Fast Track” legislation, which they say would rubber-stamp trade pacts that threaten Oregon high-tech jobs, digital privacy and freedom on the Internet. Senator Wyden recently became chair of the powerful U.S. Senate Finance Committee and will determine whether or not the expired Fast Track process is resurrected.
“Fast Track is an outdated and inappropriate way to negotiate and approve 21st Century trade agreements,” said Elizabeth Swager “It would enable trade negotiators to keep their proposals hidden from the American public until after negotiations have concluded, pacts are signed and amendments are prohibited. Our floppy disk petition urges Senator Wyden to recognize that Fast Track is obsolete in this day and age.”
As Oregon’s Congressional delegation considers whether to “fast track” the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement, new government data indicates that President Obama’s largest similar trade pact to date — the Korea Free Trade Agreement — has had a negative impact on exports from Oregon and throughout the nation.
The Korea Free Trade Agreement reached its second anniversary on March 15, 2014. U.S. International Trade Commission data on trade with South Korea is currently available through the end of December 2013. That data shows that the United States’ monthly bilateral trade deficit has increased 49% under the pact. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that the increase in imports and decrease in exports under the Korea Free Trade Agreement cost the United States about 40,000 jobs in the first year alone.
Specific to Oregon, government data shows that:
- Oregon’s overall exports to South Korea were down 11% in the year after the Korea Free Trade Agreement’s implementation compared to the year before.
- This equates to $116.7 million in reduced Oregon exports.
January 2014 marked the twenty-year anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a pact that has had devastating consequences for people and the environment in all three countries (the US, Canada, and Mexico) and beyond. The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been described as “NAFTA on Steroids,”and threatens to:
◾Destroy livelihoods – accelerating the global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions
◾Further commodify agriculture, trample food sovereignty, hurt small farmers and contribute to forced migration
◾Enable corporate attacks on environmental policies to combat climate change
◾Reduce access to life-saving generic medications – raising drug prices
Across the state, labor, environmental, human rights and community activists came together to protest 20 years of NAFTA and to say no to the TPP and Fast Track! Continue reading
We are please to announce that our annual volunteer award goes to Wes Brain from Ashland, OR, who has been a leader for trade justice with the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (ORFTC) before we were ORFTC. The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE) in Oregon was the precursor to ORFTC and was founded in 1999. Wes Brain was one of the first elected board of directors, representing the labor caucus. The Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment brought together rank-and-file laborers and environmental activists in a strategic alliance that worked to challenge economic policies that destroy good jobs and a healthy environment. As ORFTC does today, ASJE worked to build a world where nature is protected, the worker is respected, and unrestrained corporate power is rejected though grassroots organizing, education, and action. Wes has been at the forefront of the trade justice battle, sharing his talent for bringing together unlikely allies for the mutual and far-reaching benefits of our coalition. He has been the lead organizer on multiple trade justice demonstrations, educational events and lobby visits. He has housed, fed and trained ORFTC organizers, fundraised for the coalition, and helped shape its direction. Continue reading