Lessons from Colombia for how we proceed with NAFTA renegotiation in 2018-2019

The Colombia FTA shows how flawed the U.S. government’s prioritization has been—to this point—regarding labor rights in its trade agreements.  The following writing explores this.

  • Despite a “no” vote being encouraged by labor and civil society, the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was passed by Congress in 2011 and went into effect in 2012. Chief among the reasons for civil society’s advocating against passage was the labor and human rights record in Colombia.
  • There were more than 2,200 murders of trade unionists between 1991 and 2007, with an impunity rate of over 97%. This did not stop the final text of the agreement from being signed, together by the U.S. government and Colombian government, in 2007.
  • In the years between its signing and Congress’ approving of the deal, Citizens Trade Campaign reported, the figures of trade unionists’ deaths increased. The opposition from labor and human rights advocates to the deal was unmoved, despite the introduction of a Labor Action Plan (LAP), ostensibly established to bring Colombia into enforcement of labor law. More on the LAP here https://colombiareports.com/labour-action-plan-useless-detrimental-workers-union/
  • Criticizing the LAP in 2011, the Latin America Working Group stated, “We could see the same shocking numbers of murders of trade unionists when the FTA is implemented, and there’s nothing in this agreement or the accord itself that would stop it from going forward.”
  • Their statement proved true, as WOLA has said, “anti-union violence and labor rights violations have only increased since 2012.”
  • Some members of Congress are still alarmed over the impact of our human-rights-abusing trade relationship with Colombia. In September 2017, Sens. Wyden and Casey and Reps. Neal and Pascrell wrote a letterto the Trump cabinet.  It makes clear that the situation in Colombia is a lesson — and a gaping hole in a supposedly human-rights-promoting U.S. foreign policy — for how not to conduct the NAFTA renegotiation, with respect to holding trade partners to account on: actual enforcement of their compliance to domestic and international labor law. Find the letter here https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/09.19.2017%20Labor%20Enf.%20Letter.pdf
  • At present the situation has not improved.  In May 2018, two high-profile incidents of violence against activists and labor-rights championscall this to attention. Read about them here https://bit.ly/2rLuUQrand herehttps://bit.ly/2KmXQWR

CONCLUSION: Any renegotiation struck with Mexico or on NAFTA, and any U.S. trade/investment policy going forward, must show that the U.S. is correcting when it comes to dealing with countries where it is dangerous to organize. Commercial benefits of trade are only meaningful if all workers’ lives and rights are defended—and trade policy is uniquely positioned to get this right.  To ensure the rights to unionize (and related rights, and protections for vulnerable populations) are in place beforethe agreement is allowed to come into effect.

Posted in Colombia FTA, NAFTA | Comments Off on Lessons from Colombia for how we proceed with NAFTA renegotiation in 2018-2019

Join a picket! ORFTC and the Pulp and Paper Workers Fight WestRock’s Bad Corporate Behavior

There are potentially buyers who want the Newberg mill and want it to run as a paper mill, and want it to be union. WestRock — the company which in 2015 bought the mill and only two weeks later shut it down — however, (perhaps illegally) is committed to sell only to buyers who contractually agree not to restart it as a mill.

That’s just unacceptable. Join us in Newberg, where we take action over this. Multinational corporations that push their operations to the Global South for cheap labor and lax environmental regulation — that’s a story we know well.  But it’s a new low when, in the wake of their plant shutdown, they additionally prevent communities from accepting other businesses that would re-employ the lost union jobs.

Posted in Oregon Jobs Lost | Comments Off on Join a picket! ORFTC and the Pulp and Paper Workers Fight WestRock’s Bad Corporate Behavior

More Than 1,000 U.S. Civil Society Groups Demand That a People-Centered Agreement Come out of the NAFTA Talks

Civil society groups — us, and those in relationship with us — across the U.S.A. that have a shared vision for a replaced NAFTA and a list of demands regarding the nature of the agreement have released their letter to the U.S. government. There are more than 1,000 groups on the letter, and it’s a strong list — impressive collective power.

The letter is being used on Capitol Hill and in district offices all across the country.

The press release on this letter can be found here:

The letter itself can be found here:


More than 70 Oregon organizations are among the signers — a list we’re grateful for and proud of and present here:

350 Salem OR



Alliance for Democracy Portland

Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers (AWPPW)

AWPPW Oregon-Idaho-Virginia Area Council

BCTGM Local 114

BCTGM Local 364

BerniePDX / Our Revolution Portland

Carpenters Industrial Council Local 2851

Carpenters Local 1503

Citizens for Peace & Justice, Medford

Climate Action Coalition

Climate Jobs PDX

Communities and Postal Workers United

Community Alliance of Lane County

Cultivate Oregon

Economic Justice Action Group of 1st Unitarian Church

Eugene Interfaith Earthkeepers

Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network JwJ

Friends of Family Farmers

Health Care for All Oregon – Action

IBEW Local 48

independents for Progressive Action (iPA)

International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – ICHRP-PNW

Joint Council of Teamsters No.37

Jubilee Oregon

Machinists Willamette Lodge 63


Move to Amend – Portland (OR)

Multnomah Grange #71

Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Oregon AFL-CIO

Oregon Alliance for Retired Americans

Oregon Carpenters Industrial Council

Oregon Fair Trade Campaign

Oregon Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice

Oregon PeaceWorks

Oregon Progressive Party

Oregon Rural Action

Oregon Working Families Party

Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families (OSFF)

Our Revolution Central Willamette

Our Revolution Corvallis Allies

Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters

Parents Across America Oregon

Peace House, Ashland, OR

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste

Port Orford Ocean Resource Team

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP)

Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance

Portland Jobs With Justice

Portland Raging Grannies

Portland Rising Tide

Powdermilk Equipment & Supply Team

Recycle Runway

Rogue Climate

SAJES Sustainability and Justice Emerging Series

SEIU Local 503

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice

Springfield Roughnecks

Sustainable Energy & Economy Network

The Main Street Alliance of Oregon

USW Local 1097

USW Local 330

USW Local 6163

USW Local 7150

USW Local 8378

Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project

WILPF, Portland, Oregon Branch

Posted in ISDS, NAFTA | Comments Off on More Than 1,000 U.S. Civil Society Groups Demand That a People-Centered Agreement Come out of the NAFTA Talks

Cooke Aquaculture an ISDS-Enabled Threat to People and Planet

Lookout, Oregon. This story delves in something unacceptable faced by our state neighbors to the north. It could happen here, and it’s bad enough that it happens anywhere.  #EndISDS

ISDS, Investor-State Dispute Settlement, is being used dangerously in Washington state right now. Cooke Aquaculture, a Canadian company, ruined a Puget Sound fishery ecosystem and it got the attention of the state legislature, to point where Washington State is very close to banning the farming of Atlantic salmon in WA state waters. Cooke Aquaculture has publicly and explicitly threatened that if the proposal becomes law, they will undermine it with an ISDS suit under NAFTA.

Yes indeed, this trade-agreement-originated international legal arrangement is for corporations to be able to put a thumb on the scale. Instead, trade policy should be able to lift up and prioritize needs of ecosystems, indigenous communities, and the health and vibrancy of local economies.




Posted in ISDS, NAFTA | Comments Off on Cooke Aquaculture an ISDS-Enabled Threat to People and Planet

Trump’s promises for fairer trade distinctly unfulfilled, to this point

Trump Trade has meant so far a lot of uncertainty and tremendous talk of change, with nothing meaningful changing yet, and trade deficits climbing rather than subsiding.

In the State of the Union a week ago, Trump said the United States had “finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our nation’s wealth.”

To put it simply, people are waiting for anything to change, as this article explores:

“Trump said he’d shrink the trade deficit with China. It just hit a record high.” – Washington Post, 02/06/18

Posted in NAFTA, president | Comments Off on Trump’s promises for fairer trade distinctly unfulfilled, to this point

Replace NAFTA National Day of Action

December 13, 2017

We are in midst of the sixth round of NAFTA 2.0 talks.  What can we say is going on, in this tense, consequential process (to wrestle with 23 years of loss to communities due to the North American Free Trade Agreement)?  A straight-ahead news article/update here.

  • Senator #Bernie Sanders, Randi Weingarten, Rosa DeLauro, Simone Campbell, many others are rallying in DC for our #ReplaceNAFTA Day of Action.
  • All over the country, a nationwide call-in day on #NAFTA — today — means citizens will be loud and clear in getting the message to their members of Congress that there is a way forward, to transform NAFTA into a deal that works for working people.  If you’re seeing this, you’re helping.  Go here and dial your member of Congress to ask that they demand…

that NAFTA’s renegotiation put people ahead of corporations by eliminating NAFTA’s job outsourcing incentives and adding labor, environmental and climate provisions that meet fundamental international standards, include swift and certain enforcement, and raise wages for all workers. A vote should not be held until these essential standards are met.

Step out on your email and social media (like, post this image — and other Replace NAFTA alerts, going forward) to show our reach and our unity and strength.

This is the coalition (… labor, environmental, consumer, faith and farm groups… these leaders speaking in the DC rally/presser today…)  that defeated the TPP.  And we’re having an impact on the direction NAFTA is heading.  And we flat-out must.

After the current #NAFTArenegotiation round, a round occurs in Montreal, January 23-27.  Rubber has been hitting the road on the (fiercely) competing visions for a NAFTA 2.0.  And it will continue to.  Our window for our impact is wide open; hear and spread our demand in:

– eliminating the job-outsourcing incentive that is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (#ISDS) chapter

– adding labor, environmental, and climate provisions that meet fundamental international standards, including with swift and certain enforcement

– raising the wages for workers in Mexico, which will lift up all, by slowing the corporate search across borders for the lowest common denominator of labor cost

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on Replace NAFTA National Day of Action

Oregon’s resources for what we’re saying on NAFTA

This post is for spreading some new resources.  The image below is our ORFTC fact sheet on the NAFTA campaign made in-house.  Further, we have these exciting things to tell you about:

Public Citizen (and their entities Global Trade Watch and ReplaceNAFTA.org) did some fabulous research, and you can find it at this site: https://www.citizen.org/our-work/globalization-and-trade/50-reasons-we-cannot-afford-tpp’s-expansion-nafta-model

All 50 states now have two-pager fact sheets on the costs of NAFTA, state-specific.  Here’s the link for Oregon’s.

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on Oregon’s resources for what we’re saying on NAFTA

NAFTA Renegotiation Has Begun. Here’s what you need to know.

NAFTA is being renegotiated starting today.  The time has come when the three countries sit down to make changes to the agreement.  This round of negotiations, which is in Washington DC, will go ’til August 20.  The second round will be September 1-5 in Mexico City.  And on they’ll proceed, with the countries’ leaders wanting to finish up the agreement by end of year.

What needs your attention: we have demanded that the texts-agreed-upon after each round be made public, so we know what’s being negotiated in our name.  Rather than go this route, the Trump administration has said the text is classified.  NAFTA renegotiation is happening along the same practice of secrecy as the TPP.  A round of stakeholder engagement has been denied.  Meanwhile, hundreds of corporate lobbyists have been given special “cleared advisor” status that gives them privileged access to proposed texts and to the negotiators themselves.

What can you do?  Follow this link to demand transparency. http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1034/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=22171

And watch this 5-minute video made by the Witness for Peace team in Mexico

It tells the reality, contrary to Trump’s narrative, of NAFTA’s devastating effect on Mexico.

Check back here for updates, including on the released statements of various organizations concerned with the direction of the negotiation and calling attention to Trump’s neglect so far of what working people have said needs to be in any new NAFTA.

In terms of organizational statements, to be thoroughly informative/helpful to you, here’s one pasted—that of Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC):

Statement on the Start of NAFTA Renegotiations
By Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director, Citizens Trade Campaign

In the midst of the President’s reprehensible response to the racism, anti-Semitism and violence in Charlottesville, the business of his administration continues — with the potential for decades-long consequences to the economy, the environment and public health.

The public is being shut out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations that formally began today.  Meanwhile, hundreds of corporate lobbyists have been given special “cleared advisor” status that gives them privileged access to proposed texts and to the negotiators themselves.

President Trump got into office in large part on his promise to make NAFTA better for working people, but his administration’s written renegotiation plan fails to take the bold steps needed to accomplish that goal.  Instead, it relies heavily on language from the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate power grab.  If corporations are allowed to dictate the terms of NAFTA’s renegotiation, the pact could become even worse for working people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.

To put an end to rigged trade deals that enrich corporate elites at the expense of the majority, we need a transparent negotiating process that allows the public to comment on draft U.S. trade proposals before they’re formally introduced and to review composite texts at the end of each negotiating round.

Any NAFTA replacement deal and future trade agreement must also meet the following basic criteria:

• Eliminate the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, which promotes job offshoring and gives multinational corporations power to sue governments over environmental, health and other public interest protections before a tribunal of three corporate lawyers.  These lawyers can order U.S. taxpayers to pay corporations unlimited sums of money, including for the loss of expected future profits.

• Include strong, binding and enforceable labor and environmental standards, not the ineffective rules found in deals like the TPP.  Require that these standards are enforced before the new pact is finalized.

• Require all imported food, goods and services in the agreement to meet all domestic safety, consumer-right-to-know and environmental rules, and uphold nations’ rights to democratically establish domestic farm policies that ensure that farmers are paid fairly for their crops and livestock and that the public has ongoing access to safe, affordable food.

• End rules that waive Buy American and Buy Local policies by eliminating NAFTA’s procurement chapter.

• Remove terms that drive up the cost of life-saving medicines by giving pharmaceutical companies extended monopolies on drug patents.

While not a comprehensive list of necessary changes to a NAFTA replacement, any agreement that fails to meet these simple standards is unlikely to deserve the support of working people at home or abroad.

And, as we’ve said many times before, any NAFTA replacement deal must work for working families in all three countries.  We know that the NAFTA debate isn’t a question of the United States versus Mexico and Canada, but rather big corporations against the rest of us.

Posted in Free Trade Agreements, NAFTA, president | Comments Off on NAFTA Renegotiation Has Begun. Here’s what you need to know.

Our event has a new flyer. It’s not just the flyer. What Trump intends to do with #NAFTA warrants your attention.


RSVP to indicate your presence at this, here http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ

Oregon Fair Trade invites you to get active and get educated in the (really hot right now) issue of jobs and trade.  The Trump administration is taking up a rewriting of NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement.  What will NAFTA 2.0 look like?  Signs point to a renegotiation that may only tinker around the edges of the NAFTA model, a model that has wrought damage of 23 years.

Our event — a NAFTA Town Hall, in Portland on Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 at AFSCME Hall — will educate on the unfolding NAFTA politics and will examine the legacy of NAFTA for Oregonians.  We will hear of the NAFTA-enabled corporate behavior that costs, in livelihoods, on both sides of borders.  We will hear from Portland workers, who make Oreos (among other products) for Nabisco, who suffered a work stoppage — and whose jobs are in peril — as part of a large trend of that company’s offshoring.

Get in on the uniting around this issue (and the activism that it requires), from many sides of NAFTA’s impacts — job loss, downward pressure on wages, public health and safety, climate change acceleration, migration, and others.

NAFTA Town Hall – After 23 Years.
Thursday, August 10 at 7:30pm
AFSCME Council 75 (6025 E Burnside St.)
in Portland, Oregon

Use our RSVP link, at http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ
Find this event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/113221029312583/

Posted in Free Trade Agreements, NAFTA | Comments Off on Our event has a new flyer. It’s not just the flyer. What Trump intends to do with #NAFTA warrants your attention.

Roundup of Reactions from Civil Society to Trump’s Plans for NAFTA

Last week, you noticed that the Trump administration released its document of negotiating objectives for NAFTA 2.0.  Our post, as Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, about this is the most previous post on this site.  It is our statement of response to the Trump release.

But you might be wondering… what are other corners of civil society (and labor and the like) saying about the Trump release??  Well, let’s give you a thorough answer.  Many people have given their specific side of the larger story that the Trump plan falls unacceptably short.  (It’s not just Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign whose statement we linked in the earlier post.)

People — speaking for their estimable and diverse organizations — who have weighed in include Richard Trumka, James P. Hoffa, Leo Gerard, Robert Martinez, Jr, Chris Shelton, Michael Brune, Bill Waren, Roger Johnson, Juliet Majot, and of course Lori Wallach.

Here are the statements/reactions in comprehensive, list form:

“Administration Falls Woefully Short in NAFTA Renegotiation Plans”

“Teamsters Disappointed by Lack of Specifics in New NAFTA Objectives”

“Administration’s NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Must Reverse Past Failures”
USW+Sierra Club (Gerard and Brune publish as co-author, op-ed contributors at Morning Consult)
“Wanted: A Trade Agenda That Values People Over Corporations”

“Working People Must Come First in NAFTA Negotiations”

CWA (their general release)
“New NAFTA Looks a Lot Like TPP”
CWA (Chris Shelton’s article as a guest commentator at CNBC)
“Trump’s new NAFTA plan is all wrong. Here’s what he needs to do to fix it”

UAW (Note: this is an exception — not actually a reaction to the Trump release, as, it predates it.  But it is stellar and from an important voice — Dennis Williams, president of United Auto Workers — so it’s included.)
“New NAFTA for Working Families”

Sierra Club
“Trump’s Promised NAFTA ‘Plan’ Keeps Workers and Communities in the Dark”

Friends of the Earth (their brief statement)
“Trump’s NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Indicate Possible Stealth Attack on Public Health, Food, Agriculture”
Friends of the Earth (their full statement)
“NAFTA Renegotiation: A Stealth Attack on Food, Agriculture, Chemicals, and Biotechnology Safeguards”

National Farmers Union
“NAFTA Objectives a Missed Opportunity for Family Farmers”

Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy
“NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives Fall Short for Farmers and the Planet”

National Family Farm Coalition
“Rural America Cannot Export Its Way Out of Financial Ruin”

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante
“Migrant Workers Left Out of NAFTA”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
“NAFTA Plan Does Not Describe Promised Transformation of NAFTA to Prioritize Working People”

Posted in NAFTA, president | Comments Off on Roundup of Reactions from Civil Society to Trump’s Plans for NAFTA

The Trump administration releases NAFTA objectives. Here’s how we respond. Follow the link to submit comment.

Yesterday, the USTR released the awaited (eighteen-page) document outlining its negotiating objectives for when — in thirty days — the U.S. is at the table with Mexico and Canada, to redo NAFTA.  You can see the USTR’s document here.  Our petition for telling the President and Congress that Trump’s plan falls short, to the point of being unacceptable, is here, and please submit your name.  Also, find Citizens Trade Campaign’s statement in response to the release, on their site, here.

The Trump administration continually signals to us that it has a values problem and a competence problem.  Trump’s politics are not working people’s values.  And the blame that he cast during the campaign for folks’ economic hardship was leveled at Mexico, and others, who are getting a better “deal” than we are, supposedly.  Trump’s story of grievance missed the mark of an authentic critique of NAFTA.

He is a con-man on trade (at least, so far).  The TPP and NAFTA to Donald-Trump-the-Candidate were unacceptable, disastrous deals.  Yet given the chance to renegotiate NAFTA, the Trump administration has inserted TPP language in the NAFTA objectives.  The new NAFTA negotiating objectives are not an improvement over TPP on labor and environment — the provisions there in TPP having been rejected as inadequate by us (and civil society broadly).

Human rights as an objective is not in the administration’s document, which is a step backward from Congress’s 2015 Trade Promotion Authority bill,  which chanced to use the phrase in one place.  Congress’s 2015 Trade Promotion Authority bill passed; it is what we are living under (and it is commonly known as the Fast Track rules) and it was originally the table-setter, procedurally, for the TPP (and other trade agreements to follow).  (So, Trump’s “new” NAFTA is literally more of the same.)

The administration’s release is vague.  It is specific only in one place: in its pushing for the elimination of NAFTA’s Chapter 19, which instituted review panels to help enforce anti-dumping.  The fact that the removal of a chapter was mentioned, but it was not NAFTA’s Chapter 11, is a serious point.  It means Trump’s intent is to keep the ISDS system in place, whereby corporations can sue governments if the governments have laws on the books that the corporations perceive block their profit-making.

In total, Trump here presents a plan ripe for corporate expansionism and not a deal that was demanded by (and, in a sense promised to) working families.  It is unoriginal, it is business-as-usual, and it is not welcome news for those of us taking a firm stance for people and planet.  There will need to be — now more than ever — real transparency in this process, and people waking up to Trump’s hollowness in his promises to make things “a lot better.”

Our petition demands transparency, in addition to insisting on seeing people’s real needs put ahead of corporate designs.

Posted in NAFTA, president | Comments Off on The Trump administration releases NAFTA objectives. Here’s how we respond. Follow the link to submit comment.

NAFTA news, all the time: Small businesses line up in opposition to ISDS section of NAFTA

This comes from Green America.  They announce today that 100 small businesses sent a letter to President Trump urging him to side with small business in its opposition to ISDS’s presence in the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is the provision in NAFTA that allows corporations to sue governments (and therefore claim settlements) over their perceived lost profits due to the regulatory actions of those governments.

It makes corporations freer to offshore U.S. jobs and it straightforwardly attacks the institution of democracy, in that laws that a voting public sets in place are vulnerable to being overruled by a tribunal of trade lawyers.  They operate in secret and by and large serve the model—the free-trade, NAFTA model—which empowered them and which invented this dangerous sort of corporate power-grab.

Small businesses know this hurts our communities and lays bare the fact that these free trade agreements are for the largest multinational companies, not the rest of us.  Thus it is necessary that while NAFTA is in renegotiation, ISDS be targeted for removal from the text.

Find Green America’s announcement here.  The letter signers are members of the American Sustainable Business Council and Green America’s Green Business Network.  The text of the letter is here.

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on NAFTA news, all the time: Small businesses line up in opposition to ISDS section of NAFTA

Portland metro area: Attend the NAFTA Town Hall

The NAFTA politics — where do they stand?  Who will be the winners of a NAFTA renegotiation?

Could it be labor and environment and community groups?  Only if we show up.

Get answers to these questions, and join forces — for all the reasons that the NAFTA legacy cannot go on — to move us toward greater global justice in this unique 21st-century moment, of looking hard at a late-20th-century trade-policy paradigm.

…with your presence at this event

NAFTA Town Hall
Thursday, August 10 at 7:30 pm
@ AFSCME Council 75: 6025 E. Burnside St., Portland, Oregon

To attend, fill out our online RSVP, which is here http://bit.ly/2ufeinZ

You can also find it on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/113221029312583/

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on Portland metro area: Attend the NAFTA Town Hall

The Guatemala CAFTA case that clarifies what we’re fighting for, in NAFTA renegotiation

The United States had been in nine years of litigation against the government of Guatemala in the first-ever labor dispute settlement case under the provisions of CAFTA-DR.  Guatemala was in trouble for failure to enforce its labor laws.  The case closed this past Monday when the panel ruled in favor of Guatemala.  Why?  Not because Guatemala had met some standard of labor protection.  It had not.  The panel ruled in favor of Guatemala because CAFTA’s labor-protection enforcement mechanism requires that the party bringing the labor grievance prove that such failure was affecting trade.  This bar proved too high a reach for U.S. litigators — at least the way the CAFTA system works.

This is a look at a broken (and shamefully long) enforcement process.  Labor and human-rights groups took note, and say this is exactly the inadequacy that cannot be repeated in how we move forward with NAFTA.  This point is critical to raise at this time, because NAFTA is in renegotiation, and its current labor rules are toothless and part of a side agreement, not the text itself.  Here are a couple quotes from labor and human rights interests, making this point.  (Sources for this post are here and here; the spokespersons were witnesses at the recent hearings in Washington, DC, which were for input to guide the priorities of the USTR in the negotiations.)

“Indeed, there’s no clearer proof about the ineffectiveness of the current language than the final report of the Guatemala panel that was just released. . . .  [NAFTA] is the opportunity to get it right.”  Owen Herrnstadt, chief of staff and director of trade and globalization at the Machinists

“Based on what we’ve seen under CAFTA in the Guatemala case, the trade-related standard that we’ve seen develop over the past few years has created a barrier to accessing dispute resolution which really renders feckless the labor action plans that have been created and all of the efforts to promote labor rights, particularly for migrant workers.”  Elizabeth Mauldin, policy director at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on The Guatemala CAFTA case that clarifies what we’re fighting for, in NAFTA renegotiation

Action in DC delivers 100,000 petitions, for People’s priorities on NAFTA

Today, in D.C., the U.S. International Trade Commission is hearing testimony as input in the NAFTA renegotiation. These hearings are part of how the United States Trade Representative will be guided as to what positions to take (and priorities to hold) in the negotiations. Here’s the thing: the People – in the form of: workers and consumer, environmental, labor, and human-rights groups – have been speaking up, and demanding that their voice be heard in this process, because the public sees through the false promises of the NAFTA model and knows the danger of NAFTA as a deal advantageous to multinational corporations, to the detriment of the rest of us.

So today outside the hearings, this coalition, which derailed the TPP, delivered more than 100,000 petitions to the federal government, on top of the 50,000 public comments that were submitted in the USTR’s public-comment period.  You should still sign the petition, HERE, if you haven’t.

The petition and many of the comments focuses on two themes. First, if corporate elites are allowed to dictate how NAFTA is renegotiated, the agreement could become more damaging for working families and the environment. Second, modest tweaks would not stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage, much less deliver on President Donald Trump’s promises for a deal that will create American jobs and raise wages.

Advocating for a NAFTA renegotiation that benefits working people in all three countries, a diverse coalition of consumer, labor and digital organizations coordinated the collection of petition signatures challenging the Trump administration to:

  • Make the negotiating process transparent;
  • Eliminate NAFTA’s foreign investor protections and investor-state dispute settlement, which promote job offshoring and empower corporations to sue the U.S. government for uncapped sums before tribunals of three corporate lawyers;
  • Add tough and strongly enforced labor, wage and environmental standards;
  • Ensure imported food, goods and services meet U.S. consumer and environmental standards;
  • Cut rules that waive Buy American and Buy Local policies and offshore U.S. tax dollars; and
  • Eliminate rules that drive up the price of lifesaving medicines by giving pharmaceutical companies extended monopolies to avoid generic competition.

So there’s your update. Stray strong in this struggle.

Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on Action in DC delivers 100,000 petitions, for People’s priorities on NAFTA

The NAFTA countdown. The NAFTA struggle.

negotiation-countdownThis graphic shows the timeline on how NAFTA renegotiation will proceed. The period for submitting public comments to the USTR ends THIS MONDAY, June 12. Get them in. Here’s a LINK to a form by which you can send language that demands putting good-paying jobs and healthy communities ahead of corporate interests.


Posted in NAFTA | Comments Off on The NAFTA countdown. The NAFTA struggle.

NAFTA is being renegotiated. And there is a brief, important window for Public Comments. (Speak Up.)

two NAFTA graphics from GTW combined png

President Trump’s intentions for NAFTA are in motion.  The “renegotiation” of NAFTA will go down this summer.  Right now, the new United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer is accepting public comments on how the renegotiation should take place (… what it should prioritize).  This comment period ends June 12, making this a critical time to be heard.  Send him some language on what the possibility of a people- and planet-centered North American Free Trade Agreement looks like.  

For almost a quarter century, NAFTA has been enriching corporate elites at the expense of working people and the environment in the United States, Mexico and Canada.  NAFTA’s forthcoming renegotiation should be used to stop the pact’s ongoing damage and to create a replacement that puts people over profits.

Unfortunately, many of the same corporations behind NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) view the re-opening of NAFTA as a way to further expand their own corporate power agenda.

It is time to TAKE ACTION and Submit public comments on NAFTA’s renegotiation now demanding a transparent process that puts human needs ahead of corporate greed.

We need a NAFTA replacement that, among other things, includes strong, binding and enforceable labor and environmental standards; that requires imported food to meet domestic safety standards; that defends “Buy America” and “Buy Local” public procurement preferences; and that eliminates investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions that promote job offshoring and give multinational corporations power to sue governments over environmental, health and other public interest protections before tribunals of three corporate lawyers.

In sum, speak up.  And be ready — to struggle for a trade agreement that would live up to Trump’s promise of something that is “a lot better” for working people.

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You’ve Stopped the TPP — Now What?


Picket_FairDealorNoDealThank you.  Your hard work — coupled with that of millions of other grassroots activists across the United States and the world — is what pulled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) out of the shadows and derailed the TPP corporate power grab.

TPP negotiations were concluded in 2015 and the deal was signed in the first week of February 2016. It would have been approved by Congress shortly thereafter if the votes were there to pass it.  It was your work that ensured the TPP was a non-starter in Congress last year, and that it has remained that way ever since.  

Looking ahead, Donald Trump has promised to formally withdraw from the TPP on his first day in office.  Saying he won’t attempt to revive a deal that you’ve already ensured has no chance of passing Congress isn’t enough.

The incoming President’s real test on trade isn’t what he does with the already defunct TPP.  Instead, it’s whether he announces an end to negotiations now underway to establish more TPP-style pacts — the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty. And, whether he replaces NAFTA and other existing pacts with trade policies that put working people, the environment and healthy communities ahead of corporate profits.

TAKE ACTION:  Now that you’ve killed the TPP — help ensure that the corporate interests behind it aren’t allowed to hijack the trade agenda in 2017.

Continue reading

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ORFTC Fair Trade Monitor, August 2016


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ORFTC Fair Trade Monitor 

Fair trade update from the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, August 2016

In this issue:

1. We Rocked Against the TPP!

2. Keeping up the #RockAgainsttheTPP momentum

3. Time to get in the street to shout out loud!

4. Let’s keep working, week after week, to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership

5. White House says it sees a path to approval of Pacific trade deal

6. Take Action Against the TPP Now!

sign-crowd shot Rock.pngWe Rocked Against the TPP!

As the White House readies a last minute desperate push to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, large crowds descended on Portland for the Rock Against the TPP Oregon weekend of action. Oregonians took action, educated themselves, had fun and enjoyed a great concert!  This was part of a nationwide protest tour featuring celebrities such as Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, comedian Hari Kondabolu, and punk rock legends Anti-Flag. The tour next stops in San Francisco on September 9th at Regency Ballroom with an event featuring Jello Biafra, Grammy winning latin alternative band La Santa Cecilia, and riot-grrrl cello legend Bonfire Madigan. Additional tour dates to be announced, for more information visit www.RockAgainsttheTPP.org.

BLM at Rock.jpg

A huge thanks to all of the over 55 local and regional endorsers! Full list here Many thanks to some of the organizations who went above and beyond to make this weekend of action a success: UFCW Local 555 for all of your support in printing the massive amounts of materials for promotion and the events. Portland Jobs with Justice for organizing the March Against the TPP. Sierra Club for speaking, providing staff support, and phone banks. Teamsters for artist transportation. Greenpeace and 350PDX for organizing art makes and creating awesome props. Machinists, Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and ILWU for recruiting volunteers. Cascade AIDS Project, Burgerville Workers Union, Fair World Project, Pride@Work, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Machinists, GABRIELA Pdx, and Black Lives Matter Portland for speaking. Thank you!

Portland VIDEO, more info and PHOTOS here

PDX Rocks Against the TPP Photo Station

Fair World Project on why they are Rocking Against the TPP

The Pacific Northwest Raises the Volume Against the TPP – Greenpeace

Keeping up the #RockAgainsttheTPP momentum

Blimp Salem.jpgOn Tuesday August 23rd there was a new addition to the Capitol skyline in Salem. As USW, UFCW, ORFTC, and others gathered on the steps of the capitol, a 25 foot blimp flew in the sky reminding Gov. Kate Brown, Rep. Kurt Schrader, and Sen. Ron Wyden that the TPP is bad for democracy, bad for US jobs, bad for our planet, and bad for Oregon. Speakers at the rally reminded the Governor, who recently came out in favor of the TPP, of the loss to Oregon manufacturing since the passage of NAFTA, the lack of worker protections in the TPP, and the dim economic projections in the recent International Trade Commission Report on the pact. More information here. After the rally participants went to Rep Kurt Schrader’s Salem office to deliver messages from hundreds of constituents asking him to oppose the TPP.


Constituents speaking with Rep Blumenauer’s staff

The following week Portland and Beaverton fair trade advocates came out in force to send a very loud message to both Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici that they are out of step with their party, their districts, and their state when it comes to their indecision on the TPP. In addition to delivering hundred of Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs and Rock Against the TPP postcards, constituents spoke with congressional staff expressing why they are asking their Representatives to come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thank you to the members of CWA Local 7901, Alliance for Democracy Portland, Beaverton  Social Justice League, USW, Oregon AfterBern, Portland Jobs with Justice, 350PDX, and so many more who showed up to stop the TPP!

Time to get in the street to shout out loud!

David Delk, Alliance for Democracy


Alliance for Democracy taking it to the streets!

For over a year the Alliance for Democracy has been doing just that with our twice weekly street corner sign holding. Designed to get the attention of drivers at one of the busiest intersections in Portland (E. Burnside and SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd), we have flyers to hand out explaining the dangers of TPP to democracy, the environment, and labor. YOU ARE WELCOME TO JOIN US! Either just show up or to get on the Alliance e-mail list email me at davidafd@ymail.com.

Want to just show up? Great! Join us on Tuesdays beginning at 2:30pm or Friday at 4pm. Check the Alliance for Democracy TPP Action webpage to confirm times.

It is time to expand these actions, so if the above times do not work for you contact me at davidafd@ymail.com to see if something else can be arranged.

Let’s keep working, week after week, to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Herman M Frankel, M.D.


Constituents gathering outside of Rep. Bonamici’s office in Beaverton

Bravo, ORFTC and Rock Against the TPP friends! Now more public events, and what else?

Some of you are already phoning lawmakers weekly or more often reminding them Oregonians oppose the TPP. You tell them that the TPP would enable corporations to disable our government’s sovereign power to protect our environment, our working people, and our planet; would cost good jobs and suppress wages; and would increase climate change and other environmental damage.

I want to help. Every week I organize a series of phone actions. You’ll get copies of the letters and documentation I send to our lawmakers, reports about specific devastating effects of the TPP, and one-minute phone message samples (with phone numbers).

Please tell me if you want to join me and let’s keep working together! E-mail me at frankelh@comcast.net for more information and to get added to the weekly updates.

White House says it sees a path to approval of Pacific trade deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House said on Monday (8/29/2016) it could still win congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before President Barack Obama leaves office, and warned that failing to do so would undermine U.S. leadership in the area. “The President is going to make a strong case that we have made progress and there is a path for us to get this done before the President leaves office,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told a news briefing ahead of Obama’s trip to Asia this week. Continue Reading Here

Take Action Against the TPP Now!

Have you written an e-mail to your Congressperson telling them to oppose the TPP today? You can do so right here!

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LillyRockAgainstTheTPPRock Against the TPP WEEKEND OF ACTION is coming to Oregon!

The biggest challenge we’re facing in the fight to stop the anti- democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is that too many people still don’t know what it is.

That’s a real problem. And corporate lobbyists are hoping to exploit it to quietly rush the TPP through Congress this Fall. Fortunately, we’ve got a secret weapon to help sound the alarm: the Rock Against the TPP roadshow.

On the weekend of August 20, thousands of Oregonians will come together to demonstrate their unified opposition to the largest free trade agreement ever: the TPP. Join us for an afternoon workshop at Portland State University covering the environmental consequences of the TPP, then march with us to a free concert and rally at Director Park in downtown Portland from 5 – 10pm. Then on Sunday join us and invite your friends to TPP 101 hosted by Golden Globe nominee Evangeline Lilly.

Saturday August 20th: F8

2pm – Fossil Fuels and Trade Workshop – PSU Smith Student Union, Rm 296

4:00 – March Against the TPP –  South Park Blocks

5:00 – 10:00pm: Rock Against the TPP – Director Park, 815 SW Park Ave 

Sunday August 21st:

1pm – TPP 101 hosted by Evangeline Lilly – First Unitarian Church Eliot Center – 1226 SW Salmon St 

Rock Against the TPP is a nationwide uprising and concert tour meant to raise awareness about the threats of the TPP and the likely vote in Congress right after the election. This massive event is sponsored by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, Fight for the Future, Firebrand Records, and many others. For more information and to get your free tickets CLICK HERE.

F5Featuring: Anti-Flag(acoustic), Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, Hari Kondabolu, Downtown Boys, Bell’s Roar, Danbert of Chumbawamba, Son of Nun, Taina Asili, and more

If you want to help before or during the show, please fill out the volunteer form here.

Join us for this family-friendly concert with food carts, a beer garden, trade-themed carnival games, and more! Get your free tickets today!

THANK YOU to our over 55 local and regional endorsers! These organization have been working tirelessly to get the word out and more!

350 EUGENE, 350 Salem, 350PDX, AFT-Oregon, Alliance for Democracy, AWPPW, Bark, Beaverton Social Justice League, Black Lives Matter Portland, Burgerville Workers Union, Cascade AIDS Project, Center for Sustainable Economy, Climate Action Coalition, Climate Jobs PDX, Climate Solutions, CWA Local 7901, Eastside democratic Club, Economic Justice Action Group – First Unitarian Church, Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network, Fair World Project, Farm Aid, Food & Water Watch, Friends of Family Farmers, GABRIELA Portland, Greenpeace USA, Health Care for All Oregon, ILWU OADC, Joint Council of Teamsters no.37, Jubilee Oregon, Main Street Alliance of Oregon, Marion Polk Yamhill Central Labor Chapter, NW Oregon Labor Council, Occupy Portland Elder Caucus, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon AFSCME, Oregon Machinists Council, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon Progressive Party, Oregon Rural Action, Oregon Steelworkers Legislative and Education Committee, Oregon Working Families Party, F2Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families, ORFTC, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, PDX Trans Pride, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Portland Jobs with Justice, Pride At Work Oregon, Rogue Climate, SEIU 503, Sierra Club, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice, UFCW 555, VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, Willamette Lodge 63


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Government Study Reveals Oregon Jobs at Risk Under Pending Trade Agreement

Labor Leaders & Others Urge Congress Not to Put More Oregonians in the Unemployment Line

IMG_4803Portland & Beaverton, Oregon — Labor and community advocates held rallies and press events in Beaverton and Portland this week to discuss the release of a new government study that finds Oregon jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, forest products and the service sector are at risk under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.  In front of a giant prop representing an unemployment line, they called on area Congress members Suzanne Bonamici (D-01) and Earl Blumeanuer (D-02) to oppose the TPP.

This report shows how damaging the TPP would be for Oregonians’ jobs and wages, including in the machinery and equipment sectors,” said John Kleiboeker, president of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers’ Lodge 63 of Gladstone. “Given the ITC has historically overestimated the benefits and downplayed the costs of trade agreements, the fact that they’re saying so many Oregon industries are at risk under the TPP is a real cause for concern.  Representatives Bonamici and Blumenauer should be leading the charge against this job killer.”  

IMG_4838The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recently published its official findings on the TPP, which reveal:

  • More than 99% of Oregon’s manufacturing workers are in sectors of the economy projected to experience worsening trade deficits under the TPP.  95,269 Oregonians work in manufacturing sectors expected to lose under the agreement, while only 514 Oregonians work in the one manufacturing sector expected to see gains (petroleum and coal).
  • Oregon’s top agricultural export, wheat, is expected to suffer decreased exports under the TPP, as is the forest products sector.
  • White collar jobs are also at risk, with the U.S. service sector as a whole projected to experience a worsening trade balance under the TPP.  This includes worsening trade balances in everything from “transportation, logistics, travel and tourism” to “financial services.”

What’s more, most of what U.S. service-sector benefits are projected for the TPP aren’t from U.S.-based employees providing services cross-border, but rather from sales by U.S. companies’ foreign-owned affiliates, meaning profits for transnational corporations, but fewer jobs for Oregon workers.   

13516198_1229367233750848_4430757518365093896_nThe TPP was signed in February, but has not yet been submitted to Congress for a vote.  It is widely expected to be considered by Congress later this year.  Leading presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have all criticized the TPP as bad for American jobs, and have said it should not be approved by Congress.  Representatives Bonamici and Blumenauer, however, have said they are undecided on the TPP.  

Oregon can’t afford a trade deal that puts more hard-working people in the unemployment line,” said Michael Shannon, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign.  “The U.S. Labor Department has already certified more than 63,000 Oregon livelihoods as destroyed are a result of offshoring or displacement by imports since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — and that’s just one narrow program that ignores huge sectors of the economy also hurt by bad trade policy.  This new ITC report indicates that type of job loss would only accelerate under the TPP.  There’s no reason for indecision.  It’s time for Oregon’s Congress members to join the chorus against the TPP.”

13510786_1229367127084192_1820351477358073503_nThe ITC report’s unexpected findings included that the TPP would provide almost no gains for U.S. economic growth (only 0.15 percent by 2032) while reducing employment in manufacturing, shrinking the U.S. service sector trade surplus and increasing the overall U.S. trade deficit.  Because the agency employs a model that incorporates unrealistic assumptions, such as constant full employment and no currency manipulation, past projections have systematically overstated the benefits of trade pacts relative to their outcomes.    

The ITC projected much more optimistic outcomes for the most recent previous U.S. trade agreement on which TPP was modeled, the 2012 U.S-Korea Free Trade Agreement. But in reality, the U.S. trade deficit with Korea in the top 10 products that Oregon exports to Korea – including everything from machinery to agricultural products – ballooned 98 percent in the agreement’s first four years. The overall U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea surged $15.4 billion (99 percent). According to the administration’s trade-jobs ratio, that equates to the loss of over 102,554 U.S. jobs in four years of the FTA.  The TPP dwarfs the size of the Korea trade agreement, covering approximately 40% of the global economy.  

This week’s press conferences were held in front of a 8’ by 16’ silhouette of an unemployment line emblazoned with the names of approximately 10,000 recent trade-related plant closures and downsizings.

13516560_1229364983751073_8634239163721711671_nWith Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all saying the TPP is a job-killer that doesn’t deserve the support of Congress, it’s distressing that members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation are still waffling over it,” said Laurie King of Climate-Jobs PDX.  “Yes, this might help Phil Knight make another billion dollars off of Vietnamese labor, but he doesn’t need that.  Oregonians really do need good-paying jobs at decent wages, and the TPP puts their livelihoods at risk. Our Congressional delegation, including Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, should not take a more corporate stand than these presidential candidates.”

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Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs rallies in Oregon!


Beaverton & Portland Rallies

We need your help in telling Congress not to let the Trans-Pacific Partnership put more people in the unemployment line!

The corporate push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is going full force — and we need to push back!  Join us at either of the upcoming Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs tour stops and rallies in Oregon:

Beaverton Rally * Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs

Monday, June 27  *  10:30am * Outside Rep. Bonamici’s office 12725 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton

RSVP for Beaverton Online 

Portland Rally * Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 * 12 noon * Outside Rep. Blumenauer’s office 911 NE 11th Ave St, Portland

RSVP for Portland Online

The TPP allows big corporations to pit local workers against highly-exploited workers abroad making less than 65 cents an hour.  This trade agreement threatens to offshore more jobs and drive down wages.  If we stand together we can stop the TPP!

Join us in Portland and Beaverton to hear from workers and community leaders calling on Congress to oppose the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership!

Help spread the word! Like and Share on Facebook here and ReTweet here!

For more information e-mail Shannon at m.shannon@oregonfairtrade.org

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PRIDE Activists say No to the TPP!

AJ Pride Meme

June 17th, 2016, Portland, OR—In wake of the Orlando massacre and in celebration of PRIDE weekend, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign hosted a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in front of Rep Earl Blumenauer’s office, highlighting the trade deal’s lack of protections for LGBT rights.


The TPP, which has been signed by 12 countries but is not ratified, has yet to enter congress. 26 House Democrats, led by Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, recently signed a letter asking President Obama to renegotiate the trade deal due its disregard for LGBT justice. The letter cites the TPP’s inclusion of Brunei, where the state can stone citizens to death for being in a same-sex partnership, and Malaysia, where police have arrested transgender individuals for their choice of clothing. The author addresses Obama, reading “Given the continued prevalence of attacks on the LGBT community in Malaysia and Brunei, we urge you to consider renegotiating the agreement to include protections for gender and sexual minorities and further demand that these countries treat all of their citizens as equal.”

Despite his recent statement of support for the LGBT community trailing the Orlando Massacre, Rep. Earl Blumenauer has failed to come out against the Trans Pacific Partnership. “With his voting history, Rep. Blumenauer has repeatedly voted for the interest of the queer community,” commented Shannon Michael, Executive Director of Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “Blumenauer’s vote on the TPP will test the depth of his allyship to his LGBT constituents.” Peter Defazio, who has been vigilant in his resistant to the TPP, remains the only Oregon signatory on Pocan’s letter.

While Blumenauer previously voted yes to Fast Track the TPP, he has not yet declared what he will vote once the bill comes back to congress.

13423819_1222739907746914_3428155719677858111_nAJ Mendoza, a queer activist, noted, “You cannot merely share sympathy with LGBTQ victims of the Orlando massacre and call yourself an ally. If you are an ally, you don’t get to pick and choose when to vote for solidarity” Mendoza, who became the first openly gay student at George Fox University, an evangelical university in Newberg, Oregon, now serves as Executive Director of One George Fox, and is no stranger to empty words. “The United States has chosen to believe in the ugly lie of collateral damage. There is no economic gain that merits sacrifice of human life.”

120830-prideatworkJobs remained at the forefront of the rally, which accumulated signatures for an emerging campaign, “Bad Trade kills Good Jobs.” Be Marston, an organizer at PRIDE @ Work and lead Bartender at Portland 5 shared, “The struggle for queer justice and the struggle of the labor movement are deeply connected. Like the stonewall riots, we are not here to meet the status quo of corporate interests, we are here to fight power.” Nghia Nguyen, a local trans community activist, declared, “We will not let corporations co-opt our movement. Queerness has been challenging colonialism and capitalism for hundreds of years, and we will fight the TPP that values profit over people.”

In the crowd of nearly 40 who attended the rally, activists pulled out their cell phones to immediately ask Blumeanuer to vote no on the TPP. Blumenauer and his staff where nowhere to be seen at the rally.

Drew Elizarde-Miller, Human Rights Intern, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign

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ORFTC Fair Trade Monitor, May 2016

ORFTC Fair Trade Monitor

Fair trade update from the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, May 2016

In this issue:

  1. The US International Trade Commission report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  2. Labor and Human Rights forums
  3. Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs tour coming to Portland and Beaverton!
  4. Upcoming events in June and beyond

1. The US ITC report on the TPP

In late May the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released “the” big, government study about the projected effects of the TPP — something that’s already gotten considerable attention from Congress and the media.  Despite a long history of grossly overestimating the benefits and underestimating the costs of proposed trade agreements, the ITC’s projections show significant costs associated with the TPP and almost non-existent benefits.  That the ITC is saying this should be a major red flag.

Among the ITC’s findings are that:

  • The TPP would increase the U.S. global trade deficit by $21.7 billion by 2032.
  • That TPP would worsen the balance of trade for 65% of the U.S. economic sectors it chose to feature, including vehicles, wheat, corn, auto parts, titanium products, chemicals, seafood, textiles and apparel, rice and even financial services.  While manufacturing would take a major wallop, even the overall U.S. services trade balance is projected to worsen, with losses in the majority of service industries.
  • The projected economic gains under the TPP are a minuscule 0.15% by the year 2032, which some have called the equivalent of a rounding error.  Put another way, the ITC projects that the United States would be as wealthy on January 1, 2032 with the TPP as it would be on February 15, 2032 without it.

Members of Congress need to be asked whether a trade agreement that the ITC, with its record of overestimating the benefits of trade agreements, finds will have almost no benefits, weighs against the shared concerns being raised by civil society organizations about the TPP’s very real threats to jobs and wages, inequality, the environment, food safety and public health.

Call your Representative today at 202.225.3121. Remind them that the ITC report is damning to the TPP and ask them to commit to vote no on the deal. You can also email your Congress people here.

For more analysis of the ITC report, check out Global Trade Watch’s detailed press release

2. Labor and Human Rights Forums

On May 14th, activists and organizers from El Salvador to Oregon to the Philippines gathered to share their stories of struggle and resistance against human rights violations fueled by free trade agreements. In unity, the panel declared the Trans-Pacific Partnership disastrous for human rights, as past free trade agreements have pushed indigenous people from their land and forced migration, something the TPP will intensify all while limiting access to medicine and making no improvement in anti-LGBTQ government policies.

One of the speakers, Monico Ito Cayog, a Bagobo elder from Davao del Sur, Southern Phillipines gave these helpful inspiring words as a call to action: “Indigenous people are like small fish in our traditional ways that are constantly being eaten by bigger fish. Wisdom tells us we must join together and become a big fish to defeat the other fish.” Drew Elizarde-Miller, Human RIghts Intern, ORFTC

On May 7th, leaders from AWPPW, ILWU, UA Local 290, Oregon Tradeswomen, and Portland Jobs with Justice came together with Oregon Fair Trade Campaign for Our Jobs, Our Economy: Labor and the TPP. Watch the forum online here. Thank you to David Delk for filming and editing! Thank you to Local 290 for hosting us!

3. Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs tour coming to Oregon

By allowing big corporations to pit local workers against highly-exploited workers abroad making less than 65 cents an hour, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement threatens to offshore jobs and drive down wages.  Please join displaced workers and community leaders in calling on Congress to oppose the job-killing TPP at either of these events…

Beaverton Rally * Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs

Monday, June 27  *  10:30am * Outside Rep. Bonamici’s office 12725 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton

RSVP Online 

Portland Rally * Bad Trade Kills Good Jobs

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 * 12 noon * Outside Rep. Blumenauer’s office 911 NE 11th Ave St, Portland

RSVP Online 

4. June Events

At noon on June 17th join ORFTC and allies to kick off Portland Pride weekend by sending a loud and proud message to Rep Blumenauer: No to the TPP! Did you know that in Brunei, a TPP country, that the government sanctioned punishment for same-sex relationships is death by stoning? We stand with our LGBTTQ brothers, sisters, and siblings in saying no to preferential trading with countries that do not recognize basic human rights. Join us to kick off PRIDE weekend with action!

Our ally Common Cause teamed up with environmental activists to investigate one question: How do fossil fuel companies try to buy Oregon’s democracy? Now they want to share our findings with you. Join them as they go in depth to show how the energy industry tries to buy our elections, influence lawmakers, and prevent Oregon from confronting the threat of climate change. More information and to RSVP click here.

Portland’s monthly Trade Justice meetings are held the 4th Wednesday at 6pm of every month at the ORFTC office in downtown Portland. We have a lot of great ideas for summer and we need your help to make them happen. Interested in more information? Can’t make meetings but want to get more involved? Interested in starting a Trade Justice group in your community? E-mail action@oregonfairtrade.org

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Clinton and Sanders Oppose Lame Duck TPP Vote

For Immediate Release
May 6, 2016

Clinton and Sanders Oppose “Lame Duck” Vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Portland, Ore. — Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton voiced opposition to lame duck consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying the proposed twelve-nation pact fails to meet her standards on American jobs, wages and national security, according to a candidate questionnaire published today by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign.  Candidate Bernie Sanders also opposed a lame duck vote on the TPP in his responses to an identical questionnaire.

“The Democratic candidates agree that attempting to sneak the TPP through during lame duck is completely and totally inappropriate,” said Michael Shannon, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign.  “Popular opposition to job-killing trade agreements is at an all time high.  The votes clearly do not exist to pass the TPP before the election, and TPP proponents’ plan to try to get just-voted-out-of-office, looking-for-corporate-lobby-work Congress members to rubber stamp it after the election is something that more-and-more politicians are speaking out against.”

In their questionnaire responses, both Clinton and Sanders detailed their opposition to the TPP, a pact whose final text was released in November 2015, but has not yet been submitted for a vote in Congress.  Many observers believe the TPP may be submitted for a vote during the “lame duck” session of Congress, after the election, before the newly-elected Congress is seated — a moment in the political calendar when accountability to constituents is at its lowest.

In response to the question, “If elected President, would you oppose holding a vote on the TPP during the ‘lame duck’ session before you take office?,” Clinton responded, “I have said I oppose the TPP agreement – and that means before and after the election,” and Sanders responded, “Holding a vote on the TPP during a ‘lame duck’ session would be going against the will of the people.”

Clinton detailed her opposition to the TPP in a number of areas:

  • When asked about the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, she responded, “As I have said with respect to TPP, we need to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. Those provisions in the final TPP agreement are one of the reasons I opposed it.”
  • When asked if she believes the TPP does enough on climate change, she responded, “I do not. As president I will ensure that our trade policy supports, rather than undermines, our policies to reduce emissions at home and encourage climate action abroad.”
  • On investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), she said, “With respect to the flawed ISDS provisions in TPP, I believe we need to have a new paradigm for trade agreements that doesn’t give special rights to corporations, but not to workers and NGOs.”
  • On labor and human rights abuses among TPP partner nations, she said, “I think we need a fundamental rethink of how we approach trade deals going forward. It is critical that we address labor protections and ensure that human rights are protected.”
  • In another response, she wrote, “One of the reasons I opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was my concern that we need to do more to address currency manipulation. I will take on foreign countries that keep their goods artificially cheap by manipulating their currencies, and expand our toolbox to include effective new remedies to respond, such as duties, tariffs, or other measures.”
  • She also said the TPP’s rules of origin provisions are not adequate to protecting American jobs, particularly “its weak rules of origin standard for what counts as a car that can get treaty benefits.”

Clinton’s completed questionnaire is available online here.

Sanders also detailed his opposition to the TPP in a number of areas:

  • When asked about the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, he responded, “A major reason why I am leading the fight against the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership is because it would significantly increase prices for prescription drugs for some of the most desperate people in the world.”
  • When asked if he believes the TPP does enough on climate change, he responded, “No… We need to fundamentally rewrite our trade agreements to protect the environment and raise living standards in the U.S. and throughout the world.”
  • On investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), he said, “As president, I will not approve any trade agreement that gives foreign corporations the right to undermine American democracy through the disastrous Investor State Dispute Settlement system.”
  • On labor and human rights abuses among TPP partner nations, he said, “In my view, the TPP is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements. That is especially true when it comes to addressing human rights abuses abroad.”
  • In another response, he wrote, “My Administration would use every means necessary to end currency manipulation and stop the outsourcing of American jobs.”
  • He also said the TPP’s rules of origin provisions are not adequate to protecting American jobs, adding, “That is unacceptable.”

Sander’s completed questionnaire is available online here.

The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign is a statewide coalition of labor, environmental and human rights organizations working together in support of better trade policies.  The coalition also approached the Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich campaigns with the same questionnaire, but did not receive responses.


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Urge Congress to Say NO to the TPP

The corporate push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is on.  We need your help pushing back. Last week, the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbies formally launched their campaigns to get the TPP passed early this year. NikeStory Action12.2016

TAKE ACTION NOW: Please contact your Members of Congress and urge them to oppose calls to pass the TPP in early 2016 and beyond.

The TPP would have a tremendously harmful impact on U.S. jobs and wages.  But it doesn’t end there.  The TPP is also a disaster for the environment, food safety, access to medicines and democracy itself.   What more should we expect from a trade deal that was negotiated behind-close-doors with the aid of hundreds of corporate advisors, while the public and press were shut out?

Oregon Fair Trade Campaign joined our national allies in a united cross-sector movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, LGBT, women’s, student and other groups in delivering a letter signed by over 1,500 organizations calling on Congress to oppose the TPP.  Our “movement of movements” is getting stronger every day.

Understanding that they’re really in a “now or never” moment, corporate interests groups are pushing hard for a TPP vote this year.  But if we push back hard enough, we will overcome them.  Please take action now by urging your Members of Congress to say NO to the TPP.

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Fast Track Accountability Flyering

Fast Track Accountability Flyering

This month, a number of champions of issues that Oregonians hold near and dear have gone missing. They were last seen voting for Fast Track for the job-killing, environment-devastating, Main Street-destroying TPP. Judging from the amount of corporate contributions they’ve received, we have reason to believe that they’ve been captured by corporate interests.

Please help us find the following Members of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation by posting these missing person flyers around their district offices, on streets with lots of pedestrian traffic, or in your neighborhood:

Blumenauer Accountability FlyerRep. Earl Blumenauer: Missing Climate Champion

The Congressman claims to be an environmental and climate champion — but his support of Fast Track and the TPP says otherwise. The TPP would increase rip-and-strip natural resource extraction and attack policies that fight climate change. (download & print)


Bonamici's Flyer imageRep. Suzanne Bonamici: Missing Small Business Champion

The Congresswoman claims to stand for small local businesses in Oregon. In Oregon, only 6% of small and medium-sized businesses export any good to any country, and they can’t afford the flood of cheap imports from TPP countries that have been subsidized by sweatshop labor and lack of environmental enforcement. (download & print)

Schrader Flyer imageRep. Kurt Schrader: Missing Representative of the Middle Class

The Congressman doesn’t think we should worry about the secret TPP because “it’s not finished.” More than 61,000 Oregon jobs have been certified as lost to offshoring or imports since NAFTA, resulting in stagnant wages across industries. Trade policies that erode the middle class sound like something to worry about. (download & print)

Senator Wyden: Missing Government Transparency Champion

wyden flyer imageIn his letter to ORFTC in 2012, Senator Wyden promised to fight for transparency in TPP negotiations — he said Oregonians deserve the right to know what’s being proposed in our names in real time; that we deserve the right to participate in the formative stages of the negotiations. Instead, he signed off on a plan that grants hundreds of corporate lobbyists from companies like Walmart, Chevron, and Cargill access to TPP negotiations — but we don’t get to see them until after the negotiations are over and changes are all-but-impossible. (download & print)

You can also pick up flyers outside our office in Portland: 310 SW 4th Ave., Suite 436 (6am-6pm M-F & 8am-1pm on Sat). Flyer with friends after happy hour, an ice cream social, or pot-luck picnic, or by yourself on the way home from work. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and post them to our Fast Track Accountability Flyering Facebook page or tweet them to your Member of Congress:@repblumenauer,@RepBonamici,@RepSchrader, @RonWyden

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Missing Climate Champion Flyering!

Captured by Corporate Polluters. Recently seen voting to Fast Track the TPP. If found, please Return him to the people.

Representative Blumenauer claims to be an environmental and climate champion — but his support of Fast Track and the TPP says otherwise. The TPP would increase rip and strip natural resource extraction and attack policies that fight climate change. It will give corporate polluters the power to sue governments in private tribunals for enacting policies that interfere with their profits. Fracking bans, GMO labeling legislation/bans, provisions of the Clean Air Act, and public health regulations would all be on the chopping block.

for form Missing: Climate Champion Blumenauer.jpg

Friends of the Earth recently released a television ad calling out Blumenauer for turning his back on the environment. We want to ensure that Rep. Blumenauer gets the message.

Post these flyers on telephone poles and in coffee shops to hold Blumenauer accountable for his support for Fast Tracking the TPP, despite its harm to the environment and the climate.



Post photos of yourself flyering on the action’s Facebook page here and let us know where you hung up your flyers! #BlumenauerFlyer for Twitter:


rising tide logo.png FOE logo 350pdx.png

greenpeace logo.jpg

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Tell President Obama, Just Don’t Do It!

Stop Fast Track and the TPP! -Protest at Nike Friday, May 8, 2015

just don't do it banner med

President Obama is visiting Oregon to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and legislation that would Fast Track the deal through Congress, effectively stripping Congress of its constitutional authority to regulate international trade. Obama will make his pitch at the headquarters of the company that wrote the book on offshoring — Nike. Today, less than 1% of the 1 million workers producing Nike products are in the U.S. In fact, Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, even wrote his graduate school thesis on a business model based on low-wage foreign labor.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs producing Nike goods are already located in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is less than 60 cents an hour. The TPP makes it easier for other employers to move jobs there, and not just in the shoes-and-apparel industry, but in everything from high-tech manufacturing to computer programming. Nike is a perfect example of our lost jobs and low-wage future under the TPP.

Rally at President Obama’s Trade Speech

Friday, May 8  *  9:00am

Outside of Nike Headquarters, SW Murray Blvd entrance

Beaverton, Ore.

Click here to check out the Facebook event

Get on the bus in Portland!

Meet at Westminster Church parking lot, 1624 NE Hancock, at 8am. A bus will take us to Nike in Beaverton for the demonstration. Then we’ll go to Rep. Bonamici’s office for another action. Click here to save your seat on the bus!

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“Smart Track” Can’t be Fast Track in Disguise!

photo cluster smart track petition

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.

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2014 ORFTC Roadshow

orftc 2014 roadshow pics

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

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Fast Track is a Flop!

floppy petition deliveries 2014.jpg

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Floppy Disk Petition Urges Senator Wyden to Oppose Outdated Trade Policy

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.”

Continue reading

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Oregon Exports Hurting Under Korea Free Trade Agreement

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.
  • Continue reading

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20 Years of NAFTA is Enough! Oregon Rallies to Stop the TPP.

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

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Daniel Bonham Trade Justice Award 2013

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

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Fair Trade Advocates Praise Congressional Demands for Oversight Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Portland, OR — Fair trade advocates praised the release of a new letter voicing Congressional opposition to Fast Track, a policy-making process that allows trade pacts to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures. The letter spearheaded by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA), was signed by three quarters of the House Democratic Caucus including Oregon Congressmen Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio. Representatives Earl Blumeanuer and Suzanne Bonamici also signed onto another letter signalling concerns over Fast Track. Taken together, the letters demonstrate a strong demand from Oregon’s delegation for better oversight over the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement than Fast Track would allow.

“With trade negotiators rushing to conclude the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership, it’s heartening that so many Members of Congress are standing up and demanding that each provision of the pact be scrutinized to ensure that it is in the best interests of working families,” said United Brotherhood of Carpenters General President Douglas J. McCarron.  “The middle class cannot afford for the TPP to become a ‘NAFTA of the Pacific,’ and at this stage in the game, only real Congressional oversight and intervention will prevent that from occurring.”

“The Trans-Pacific deal will affect working families, environmental protections, energy policy, food safety and more,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.  “Congress is right to want to do its job and have oversight over expansive trade pacts.  Using Fast Track is like removing the seat belts and airbags from a vehicle and racing it toward its final destination.  It’s an egregious way to speed up trade deals, which all too often put foreign corporations before families and communities.”

The 151-signature DeLauro-Miller letter sent to the President states, “we will oppose ‘Fast Track’ Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative states of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.” Continue reading

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Failed trade policy and forced migration.

By Laura Bolaños-Ramirez, Portland Jobs with Justice & ORFTC Intern

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an agreement signed by the United States, Mexico, and Canada. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. Mexicans were told that increases in trade, forging direct investment and exports would raise income and the standards of living. It was claimed that NAFTA would be so beneficial to Mexican workers that immigration would be reduced by two-thirds by the year 2000. Research has revealed the contrary, only 10% of the population has seen higher standards of living. With millions of jobs made obsolete and destroyed by cheap imports from the United States, thousands of Mexicans were left with no choice, but to migrate to the U.S. in search of work.

Alejandro Lopez a day laborer who first migrated to the U.S. when he was 26 years old stated, “Before I migrated to the U.S. I tried to find a job in Mexico, so I went to other states and cities looking for work, but it was hard to find something that was permanent, especially in agriculture, and I had no other option rather than to migrate. I have tried to go back and establish my own little business, selling food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy’s. But, people bought what they could afford with the money they had, so they choose the cheaper products that often were those imported from the United States. I’ve try four times to establish a small business in Mexico and every time I failed because people chose to buy the cheaper products, so I have no other option then to stay in the US to support my family.”

U.S. Census data shows that rather than decreasing, the number of Mexican-born people living in the United States increased by more than 80% between 1990 and 2000. Continue reading

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Welcome Benjamin Gerritz, ORFTC’s Newest Board Member!

Benjamin Gerritz is a native Oregonian, a strong leader with SEIU 503 and a dedicated member of Positive Force NW, a community-led group of HIV+ individuals working to eliminate HIV/AIDS-related stigma through social, educational, cultural, and recreational events, and community service projects.

Benjamin first became involved with ORFTC when he spoke at the Portland Peoples’ Assembly back in April where he told the audience, “This one pill I’m holding cost $64 or equivalent to $2,000 a month. For this price one would think it made of solid gold but for 34 million HIV+ people across the globe including me it might as well be as many of us would not be here today without it…The TPP would roll back internationally-held public health safeguards imposing rules and regulations to keep medicine prices high and out of reach of millions.” His personal testimony on the impact of the TPP on people living with HIV touched people in a way that data and statistics just can’t.

Since then he has been reaching out to Representatives Bonamici and Blumenauer and Senators Wyden and Merkley to ask them to oppose the TPP and Fast Track at every opportunity.

He is a truly inspirational social justice champion and Oregon Fair Trade Campaign will benefit greatly from his insights and experience serving on the board of directors.

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OR AFL-CIO Resolution on the TPP and Europe/U.S. Free Trade Agreement

At the Oregon AFL-CIO 2013 Convention this weekend in Bend, OR delegates voted unanimously for Resolution 21 to OPPOSE THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) and TRANSATLANTIC and INVESTMENT PARTNERSHIP (TTIP)!

The TPP is far, far larger than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in both its economic scale and its potential to undercut wages and worker power throughout the globe.

Thank you OR AFL-CIO for standing for workers and opposing a race-to-the-bottom trade deal that would devastate labor for decades to come.

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Video: Global Worker Solidarity Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership!

Strong message of global solidarity from our friend Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO’s trade expert who met with some of our Oregon labor leaders in Portland last month. Please don’t miss the powerful video on the TPP below!

Don’t Let Corporations Hijack Another Trade Deal

It’s happening right now, behind closed doors, and most people don’t even know about it.

Trade representatives from the United States and nearly a dozen other countries are negotiating the largest free trade agreement in U.S. history—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. And it could mean corporations gain even more power over everything from the wages you make to how clean your drinking water is to the safety of your kids’ toys.

We’ve put together this video of some of the working people across the world who are speaking out about the TPP and its consequences.
Continue reading

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Take Action to End Labor Abuses & Protect Family-Wage Jobs

WRC_Vietnam_Briefing_PaperFollowing President Obama’s meeting with Vietnamese President Troung Tan Sang last week to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we are calling for TPP negotiations with Vietnam to be suspended until the Vietnamese government demonstrates that it has brought labor and human rights abuses to an end.
It’s no accident that average American families have seen our incomes decline over the last 20 years as politicians from both parties have signed “free trade” agreements that do nothing but trade away family-wage jobs, worker rights and food and consumer safety standards.  The U.S. and the world cannot afford more race-to-the-bottom trade pacts that put corporate profits above human beings.
Now politicians are trying to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, which would freely trade good American jobs and benefits for products produced in countries like Vietnam by workers who are forced to labor in sweatshops under unsafe working conditions.
A recent report by the Worker Rights Consortium entitled, “Made in Vietnam: Labor Rights Violations in Vietnam’s Export Manufacturing Sector,” provides concrete examples of how the Vietnamese government and unscrupulous employers maintain a low-wage regime:
Continue reading

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Protest in Canada to demand “an end to the silence” on the TPP

Fair trade activists put the spotlight on secretive international trade negotiations in Vancouver B.C.

Negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim countries met quietly in Vancouver to set new investment rules within the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). No announcement of this “intersessional” on investment was made to the public or the media. People in Canada first learned about this TPP ‘mini’ negotiation from an article in the Peruvian media on Friday June 16th, just days before the weekend negotiations. It was later confirmed by iPolitics.ca with no other details and has since been acknowledged by the federal government in a brief statement concluding the intersessional talks.

“It’s long past time to end the silence on the TPP,” says Kristen Beifus of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. “It’s outrageous that this investor rights treaty is being developed behind closed doors. What they are negotiating will impact all of us, just as NAFTA has for 20 years, and we deserve to know what is being negotiated in our name.”

Continue reading

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What’s on the Table? TPP threatens Oregon’s food safety, dairy farmers and the environment

lawrenceOn May 21st, 2013 State Rep. Brad Witt held an informal hearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that he chairs.
This hearing could not have been more timely as thousands across the globe gathered to protest Monsanto’s GMOs. Monsanto is one of the 600 corporations pushing for the TPP; they want to use this free trade agreement as a tool to force genetically modified seeds and foods onto countries regardless of existing laws and regulations.
The Committee heard testimony on the TPP’s impact on food safety standards that affect not only whether Oregon consumers will have to eat products that don’t meet our domestic safety standards, but also whether Oregon producers will have to compete with overseas fish farms, industrial fruit and vegetable operations and others that aren’t bound by the same standards as they are.
Continue reading

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Seven Reasons to Fight the TPP

By Arthur Stamoulis

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive new trade and investment pact being pushed by the U.S. government at the behest of transnational corporations, threatening the economy, environment and public health both at home and abroad.

The TPP is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — but it is also specifically intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries will join over time, with Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea and others already expressing some interest in doing so.  Negotiations are scheduled to conclude in October 2013. International campaigners are fighting hard to prevent the deal from going through.

The TPP is said to contain 29 separate chapters, covering everything from food safety standards to banking regulations.

Here are some of the many reasons activists are fighting the current direction of the TPP:

Continue reading

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400+ Organizations Speak Out on the TPP & Fast Track

Over 400 organizations across the country, representing more than 15 million Americans, signed the letter to Congress expressing deep concerns about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and opposition to the outdated “Fast Track” trade negotiating and approval process. Here in Oregon we got tremendous support from labor with Oregon AFL-CIO, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, Linn-Benton-Lincoln Central Labor Council, Oregon AFSCME, SEIU 503 and many more locals and community groups that signed on.

The joint letter was submitted to Congress just one business day after the President included Fast Track in his 2013 Trade Policy Agenda, and the same day as negotiators from 11 countries throughout the Pacific Rim met in Singapore for a new round of talks aimed at pushing the TPP towards conclusion.

Fast Track excludes Congress from having a meaningful role in the formative stages of trade agreements by allowing agreements to be signed by the president before Congress votes on them. We need members of Congress to commit to opposing any delegation of Congress’s authority on trade policymaking.

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Oregon Among the States Hit Hardest by Offshoring in 2012

AWPPW-obama-picketGovernment Data Shows Oregon Lost 4th Most Jobs in Country by Population; Trans-Pacific Partnership Could Accelerate Job Loss Even Further

Portland, Ore. —  An  Oregon fair trade advocacy coalition has released a new analysis of U.S. Labor Department data showing that Oregon lost the fourth most jobs to offshoring out of any state in the country in 2012 when measured by population.

“The data clearly shows that, year after year, trade agreements have been bleeding Oregon communities of much-needed jobs. 106 mill workers in St. Helens were just laid off from Boise White Paper” said Greg Pallesen, Vice President of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers.  “Rather than stopping the outgoing flow of jobs, this new Trans-Pacific Partnership is likely to open up an artery.”

The newly compiled data released today by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign shows that the Labor Department certified 1,911 Oregon jobs as destroyed by either direct offshoring or displacement by imports in 2012, which is a 34% increase over 2011 and brings the total number of trade-displaced jobs certified by the Labor Department in the state since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994 up to 55,085. Continue reading

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Historic Cross-Border Organizing Summit to Defeat the TPP

ORFTC brought over a busload of volunteer organizers to the historic Cross-Border Organizing Summit & Rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership taking place along the U.S./Canada border in Blaine, Washington on Saturday, December 1.  [Check out photos on our Facebook page.]

The Blaine summit and rally’s organizing partners included the AFL-CIO, Citizens Trade Campaign, Council of Canadians, Sierra Club and over a dozen other regional social justice organizations.  ORFTC supplied the piñata.

Among several initiatives launched at the organizing summit was a new North American Unity Statement Opposing NAFTA Expansion through the TPP, and a goal of reaching over 1,000 organizational sign-on’s by early 2013.  ORFTC urges groups to add their names to it.

To get updated on next steps in the campaign, please sign up for monthly briefing calls or email elizabeth@oregonfairtrade.org.

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New Legislation Would Prevent Another NAFTA

As trade negotiators rush to complete the massive new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement, we need your help encouraging our elected officials to stand up and declare an end to business-as-usual trade policy.

Please email Senators Wyden and Merkley now and urge them to cosponsor critical fair trade legislation called The 21st Century Trade and Market Access Act to ensure we aren’t saddled with a new “NAFTA of the Pacific.”

First introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, The 21st Century Trade and Market Access Act reasserts Congressional and public oversight over the TPP and future trade policies.  It sets a range of binding negotiating requirements regarding labor rights, the environment, food safety and other provisions that are needed to ensure that the TPP and other pacts actually improve life for ordinary working people in Oregon and throughout the world. Continue reading

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What Are They Hiding?

The United States hosted the 14th major round of behind-closed-door negotiations on the new Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement in Virginia this September.

Despite having reportedly introduced text for some 29 different chapters, the U.S. Trade Representative has barred ordinary Americans from reviewing any of its proposals.  Even Senator Ron Wyden (D – Ore.) who chairs the Senate Trade Subcommittee charged with reviewing trade policy was initially refused access to TPP negotiating documents.

Meanwhile, approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have regular access to the negotiating texts as so-called “cleared advisors.”  This sort of back-room dealmaking only benefits the 1% and has to end.  In May, ORFTC helped deliver over 42,000 petition signatures urging that USTR inform the American public what its been proposing in our names.  That request has been flatly refused.  Over 700,000 have since signed this petition from Avaaz (which you can help push over the million signer mark by signing and sharing).

It’s also time for elected officials to intervene. TAKE ACTION NOW:  Urge Congress to demand transparency in the TPP.

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RIP Daniel Bonham

Daniel BonhamLong-time trade justice and worker rights advocate Daniel Bonham died while hiking at Silver Falls State Park on March 2.  Through-and-through, Daniel epitomized the passion and dedication that’s needed to create a more just society. He lived out his beliefs in a quiet and steady, yet self-assured, way, and seemed to be constantly seeking out new ways of engaging with and expanding his community. Continue reading

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Oregon Can’t Afford a “NAFTA of the Pacific”

The Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a massive new international trade pact for the Pacific Rim being pushed by the U.S. government at the behest of transnational corporations for completion in 2012.

Oregon cannot afford another trade deal that ships good-paying jobs overseas, reduces the tax base and puts a downward pressure on the wages and benefits in jobs we have left — all while handing new power to Wall Street to challenge financial, environmental and other public interest regulations.  Learn more about the Trans-Pacific FTA and take action to help prevent it from becoming a NAFTA of the Pacific.

UPDATE:  During ORFTC events on the Trans-Pacific FTA held in Redmond, Eugene, Ashland, Portland, Monmouth and Salem in February 2012, Oregonians from across the state signed letters urging their senior Senator to press the U.S. Trade Representative to publish its FTA proposals — and shortly thereafter, Senator Wyden contacted us pledging to do just that.

TAKE ACTION:  Please urge Senator Wyden to continue pressing for transparency in the Trans-Pacific FTA negotiations.

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Fair Trade Victory in Salem!

Corporations that benefit from NAFTA-style trade deals have long tried to frame the trade policy debate as one of being “for trade” or “against trade.”  The implication has been that there is no alternative to business-as-usual trade pacts other than just folding up shop and ending trade altogether.

You and I know that’s bunk, and now the Oregon State Senate is on record, too, speaking out for new rules governing international trade. Sponsored by State Senators Chip Shields and Brian Boquist, Senate Memorial 201 calls on Congress to enact and the President to sign comprehensive trade reform legislation called the Trade, Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act — or TRADE Act, for short.  SM 201 passed on February 10, 2012 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The TRADE Act lays out a new framework for international trade and would put an end to existing and future NAFTA-style trade agreements that put corporate profits ahead of working people, family farmers, consumer safety and the environment.  A heartfelt “THANK YOU” for all your help building support for a new model for trade.

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Trade Policy and Family Farms in Oregon

Modern trade agreements severely limit nations’ and communities’ rights to make their own decisions regarding how they will maintain or expand their ability to produce healthy, sustainable food supplies for their people and protect the livelihoods of those involved in food production.

ORFTC spoke with farmers, local food advocates and others to gain a better understanding of how these issues are playing out locally.  We share our findings in the new report Going Global in a Localized Economy: Trade Policy and Food Systems in Oregon’s Southern Willamette Valley.

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