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!
Portland fair trade activists held a rally, march and petition delivery on Friday against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast Track in solidarity with over 50 communities across North America and the world as part of an Intercontinental Day of Action against the TPP. The action also called attention to fast-track legislation that would rush the deal through Congress by limiting debate and prohibiting amendments – undermining Congress’ ability to have a meaningful role in shaping the contents of trade agreements. The action coincided with an important conference in Mexico City on the catastrophic impacts of NAFTA on Mexico and the need for a radically new trade model.
Powerful speaches were given by Rob Sisk – President of SEIU 503, Bonnie McKinlay – 350 PDX, Benjamin Gerritz – Positive Force NW and Justin Katigbak – Portland Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (PSU student group), Marco Mejia – Portland Jobs with Justice. Madelyn Elder – President of CWA 7901 emceed the rally.
A spirtited march was led by the United Students for Fair Trade from Reed College, followed by leafteting and a delegation to Congresswoman Bonamici’s office in Beaverton, Oregon.
About twenty people rallied at the Federal Building on Monday, January 27, 2014 and a delegation of two representatives delivered about 50 letters to Senator Wyden’s office urging him to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Representatives from 350.org, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Church Women United, Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC), Eugene/Springfield Solidarity Network / Jobs with Justice (ESSN), Helios Resource Network, Occupy Interfaith, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sang anti-TPP songs and heard a short speech by ESSN Chair Shelley Pineo-Jensen.
An energized anti-TPP march took place on Friday, January 31st with signs, bells, whistles and drums. A couple dozen commited fair trade advocates pointed out the dangers of the TPP including: more jobs offshored, higher drug prices, stripping away environmental protections, limiting internet freedom and lowering food safety standar