Leesburg: No Back Room Deals for the 1%

As the 14th major round of closed-door negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership took place in northern Virginia, Citizens Trade Campaign and our labor, environmental, consumer, public health, family farm and other social justice allies were there to demand an end to back-room dealmaking for the 1%.
The outside protests began with the TPP: Out of the Shadows! Rally for Good Jobs, Affordable Medicine & a Healthy Environment on Sunday, September 9 outside the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia, where negotiators were meeting.  Two hundred people made it out to demand a public voice in the TPP, and to hear rousing speeches from the Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth, HealthGAP, Sierra Club and Public Citizen.  The rally was covered nationally by wire services such as McClatchy, Bloomberg and Reuters, as well as a variety of blogs, radio shows and local newspapers.
Inside the resort, CTC projected Twitter-sized comments about the TPP from thousands of people across North America and beyond during a “tabling sessions” where negotiators could see them.  They sent a clear message to negotiators from every country that people are watching them and are unhappy with the direction in which the negotiations appear to be heading.  CTC supporters also dominated the “Negotiator Briefing” session, asking questions from the lead negotiator from each TPP country, while corporate lobbyists sat by mum.  The lack of transparency and accountability was a consistent theme throughout.
Others also staged a variety of stunts throughout the 10-day negotiations, which included yard signs, a mic check, balloon lift, bat signal, tripod blockade and even a “barf-in”.
THE ACTION CONTINUES:  During the round, CTC also helped the group Avaaz develop an online petition demanding transparency in the TPP negotiations.  At the time of this posting, it already had over 700,000 signatures.  Please sign here to get us over the 1 million signers mark!

Why were people so active? The TPP is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history.  Approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access to the negotiating texts, while the general public is barred from even reviewing what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names.

If it continues on its current course, the TPP is likely to:
  • Offshore good-paying jobs to low-wage nations and undercut working conditions globally
  • Create new tools for attacking environmental and consumer safety policies
  • Deregulate Wall Street banks, hedge funds and insurance companies
  • Further concentrate global food supplies, displacing family farmers and subjecting consumers to wild price fluctuations
  • Lengthen patents thereby blocking access to affordable, generic medications

Groups who endorsed one or more of the actions in Leesburg included the American Medical Student Association, CISPES, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America, Fair World Project, Friends of the Earth, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, HealthGAP, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, ItsOurEconomy.us, National Family Farm Coalition, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, Nodutdol, Occupy Wall Street Trade Justice Working Group, October2011.org, Organic Consumers Association, Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Trade Justice New York Metro, United Students Against Sweatshops and many others. (Click here for a PDF of the rally flyer)

Photos from the Leesburg Round of TPP Negotiations

CTC projected public comments about the TPP inside the resort where negotiators were meeting.

CTC projected public comments about the TPP inside the resort where negotiators were meeting.

Approximately 50 CTC supporters wore t-shirts with messages directed to negotiators inside the public “stakeholder” events

Communications Workers of America chief-of-staff Ron Collins kicked off the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally

Friends of the Earth US president Erich Pica speaking at the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally

The National Family Farm Coalition and Rainforest Action Network were just two of the many groups that participated in the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally

ItsOurEconomy.us and the Backbone Campaign were two of the many groups that participated in the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally

Access to medicine was one of the themes at the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally

The photo at the top of this post is of Allison Chin, president of the Sierra Club, speaking at the “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally