U.S. Unions Fight Free-Trade Trans-Pacific Partnership


||| labor unions/flickr

With the White House potentially on the verge of "fast-tracking" the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a measure expected to lower or eliminate trade barriers between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations, U.S. labor unions are once again voicing reservations, selfishly fighting to keep costs on imports high for all Americans.

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka says the proposal is flawed and will promote "wealth for the 1%, with poverty for the rest of us," while Teamsters President James Hoffa says the TPP will allow American corporations to offshore more manufacturing jobs.

The TPP talks have been ongoing for years. They were supposed to wrap up in 2012 and then 2014, but opponents have repeatedly delayed their completion—though a finish line may be in sight given the new Republican-controlled Congress.

These TPP talks come two decades after unions fought against the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which opened up trade restrictions between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 1994. Former presidential candidate and staunch protectionism proponent Ross Perot once declared that NAFTA would create "a giant sucking sound" of jobs leaving the U.S. for Mexico. More recently, the liberal magazine The Nation called the TPP a "massive assault on democracy" and "NAFTA on steroids."

President Obama supports the TPP, which will include nations that account for 38 percent of total world economic activity, although The Washington Post notes that the support is largely an attempt at tactical maneuvering around China:

The Obama administration's focus on the TPP is part of its "pivot" to Asia — former national security adviser Tom Donilon called it the "centerpiece of our economic rebalancing" and a "platform for regional economic integration" — after too many years of American foreign policy being bogged down in the Middle East. Scholars such as Columbia University's Jagdish Bhagwati are worried that the TPP goes further, as an effort to "contain" China and provide an economic counterweight to it in the region. Many of the TPP's current provisions are designed to exclude China, like those requiring yarn in clothing to come from countries party to the agreement, and could possibly invite retaliation. In addition, 60 senators have asked for the final agreement to address currency manipulation, which wouldn't directly affect China as a non-member, but could create a framework for broader action.

The president will likely face staunch opposition from within his own party. He acknowledged last month that congressional Democrats have "legitimate complaints" and that the issue "makes for some tough politics." But allowing companies and individuals to freely trade goods and services is not an "assault on democracy." Such free trade agreements have long been supported by economists as a means of increasing overall welfare, and rightly so.

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  1. Yeah, well, it says “Free Trade” right in the title, so it must be that, right??! Exciting!!

    Except….my company – and many others – oppose it because it’s just crony capitalism for other countries’ companies, and locks in barriers to trade with THEM that already exist, while further opening the US market. Super great for the other countries’ companies, NOT so great if you’re based in the US!

    So – it’s not just teh evul Unions that oppose this abortion of an agreement. I wish trade agreements actually opened up trade. We build certain things in Mexico because we can ship those to Brasil… but not the same product if it’s built here.

    TPP does the same thing for the Pac rim countries, esp Japan, who just gets more insulated and protected.

    Great for consumers, though, right?! Not so sure about that…

    But it says “FREE TRADE” right on the label, so it must be good!

    *shoots self in head*

    1. But the economists like it, and we know economics is an exact science because economists can always be counted upon to make accurate predictions as to what policies will have what effects, based on their understanding of immutable economic laws, over which there’s absolutely no dispute, right? Right?

    2. We should unilaterally liberate trade. That will put your company in a similar pickle but too bad really.

      1. ‘We” as in “Canada”, right?

        I wish the whole world was a free trade zone, but short of that, I hate to lock in cronyist protections for IP and other such fields.

  2. The one economic regulation that should exist is the outlawing of labor mafias, and even that is just an extension of legal protections against assault.

    1. I wondered how another guy named Bush could possibly think he has a chance at winning the presidency… but anything is possible in a world where a guy named James Hoffa can be allowed to lead the teamsters in the 21st century. I

      But who knows, maybe their proud of their Mafia ties now? Hell the Mafia probably has more of a patina of legitimacy that they do.

  3. …”locks in barriers to trade with THEM that already exist, while further opening the US market.”

    Pretty sure it’s been shown that reducing ANY barriers will increase prosperity of both countries.

  4. Reason’s support of TPP is misguided. EFF has shown that it contains enough bad copyright law that all libertarians should be against it.

    1. Why, what could possibly go wrong if the reach of IP cartels is extended across oceans?

  5. TPP has some issues in it, but the unions are not attacking it for the right reasons. Strengthening Intellectual Property is good, but some of the TPP IP clauses need review.

  6. wow i never thought about it liek that.


  7. DEHS, Cont’d
    of every charge & all costs & then some for ‘good’ measure, that come before the tribunals with no access to the tribunals to question the procedures, the findings, the determination of the amounts of the alleged damages, or, the means for appealing the decisions. It is not dissimilar to the benefactors of the unregulated shenanigans that precipitated Wall St. meltdown claiming that the harmless, NON shareholders should pay for the cost cleaning up the mess. The chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, et al, admits that he was wrong, retires from the Reserve & moves on.

    In conclusion, the salesmen of these recent trade & investment ‘arrangements’ do not want the harmless NON shareholders/taxpayers to ever understand that there is only a finite amount of value in the world & if your salary increase is not attached to the amount that the SHAREHOLDERS & their corporate leaders are in the process of making via their present treaty ‘arrangements’, then it demonstrate how much your value is shrinking by way of the SHAREHOLDERS taking your tax dollars. The amount inversely proportionate to the amount that they are taking from the many & splitting with the few. The faster the salesmen move the process along via secret, political bipartisan arrangements the less likely the NON shareholders will have time to get their evidence before our traditional & accountable judges.
    For more info & questions re; Treaty ‘Arrangements’,
    see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com

  8. Union members & NON shareholders of the world are NOT DUMMIES; they are ‘dummied’ by misinformation that is trying to convince them that the NON shareholders will benefit from the recent influx of trade arrangements as much as the SHAREHOLDERS. That’s a lie; a pretty big one, a whopper. It’s misleading & fraudulent.Trade will always exist with, or, without treaties; it’s just a matter of finding a buyer & a seller. Regardless, any hiccups in overcharging, or, price fixing is passed along to the consumer until a cheaper supplier under prices the transgressors. The paper trail of their illegal collusions can be tracked down & prosecuted depending upon the seriousness of the funding of any investigators.

    However, shareholders don’t like investing in a steadily, but, modestly growing enterprises.They want to feel the exhilaration of the chase for the big score. They want more bang for their buck & some ‘home-runs’ at the expense of someone on the outside. And, that’s where the present ‘arrangements’ in the recent treaties with their secret (‘Death-Star-Chamber’) tribunals give the SHAREHOLDERS & their corporate leaders the power to take the NON shareholders tax dollars as their prize while providing zero dividends, or, financial returns to the NON shareholders. It’s robbery that is being legitimized by the creation of the SHAREHOLDERS’ own jurisdiction that has not so surprisingly determined in advance that the NON shareholders are guilty in abscentia
    DEHS, Cont’d


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