JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania Members of the Johnstown City Council heard from constituents last Wednesday May 11th at the most recent Council meeting regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership. Having cleared a major political hurdle last spring by barely passing the US House of Representatives’ and the US Senate’s respective thresholds, the Trans Pacific Partnership, known to many as the “TPP”, the proposed trade deal could see a potential vote at any time. According to many activists and opponents of the TPP, the deal would undermine workers’ rights, human rights, and environmental standards at home and abroad. John Swanson, a member of the United Steelworkers Union, Local #2632, gave a prepared statement to the Members of the Council urging their passing of the anti-TPP proclamation. Swanson, a resident of Johnstown, listed a number of reasons why the United States should avoid entering into the trade deal and why the Council’s passing of the Proclamation would be significant in the debate over trade. From the statement, Swanson read “When manufacturing centers shut down, the multiplier effect of manufacturing disappears as well.  Those who provided services to the factories themselves, or to the factories’ employees, often also go out of business.  Revenue from income, sales, and property taxes and business licenses go down, reducing the ability of the public sector to provide services, often at the exact time those services are most needed, leaving many communities economically devastated.” Several cities across Pennsylvania, including Johnstown, have seen the detrimental impact of trade deals like NAFTA.

Mickey Sgro, chair of Central PA Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and Director of AFSCME District Council 83 stated, “We’re really excited that this Proclamation passed unanimously. Workers have had it rough for a long time and it’s clear that bad trade policies are a big part of the problem. Johnstown, in passing this Proclamation, has taken a definitive stand against those bad policies.”

The TPP is predicted to offshore more Pennsylvania jobs and push down more of our wages. Americans across the country have had enough of these empty free-trade promises and are saying “no” to the TPP, and are afraid of the same detrimental impacts that have been proven from other trade deals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania lost 308,684 manufacturing jobs during the NAFTA-WTO period (1994-2015).

The proclamation passing is part of a nationwide effort from various activist groups. The Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition is a state-wide organization who is working throughout the state in conjunction with labor, environmental and human rights groups to educate the public on the importance of blocking the TPP from passing through Congress, along with asking municipalities to consider passing an anti-TPP Resolution.