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.

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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

You can also find it on Facebook here

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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

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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.

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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.


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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

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

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 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 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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