WASHINGTON D.C. – Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen today made the following statement in response to the bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp calling for “fast track” authorization for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):
“Fast track is the wrong track when it comes to a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will affect our laws, our jobs, our food and our environment. Fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, forces Congress to give up its Constitutional right to amend and improve this trade deal, which now is reportedly more than 1,000 pages long.
“For nearly four years, the U.S. Trade Representative and TPP negotiators have purposely restricted participation and information, keeping members of Congress and citizen groups, unions, environmental and consumer organizations in the dark. There has been no opportunity for public interest groups to meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and under fast track authority, there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives to amend the deal and make it better for Americans.
“Fixing any one problem with fast track at this late date is not the solution. As important as workers’ rights, environmental standards, consumer issues, job loss or currency manipulation might be, fast track authorization should be rejected, not tinkered with. None of us who focus on those issues had any input into this fast track legislation and this in itself is as serious as the glaring deficiencies.
“If the Baucus-Camp fast track authorization proposal passes, Congress will have given away its Constitutional right to amend without ever having read and vetted all potential ramifications of the final trade bill.
“Some 600 corporate advisers have been actively involved in shaping the pact and had access to the text. The rest of us have only pieced together the impact of this deal on ordinary Americans from leaked chapters. More U.S. jobs would be shifted overseas and U.S. workers would suffer lower wages as companies look to countries like Vietnam, where the average hourly wage is 75 cents and the minimum wage is 28 cents an hour.
“Since the American people and their elected representatives had no input during the negotiations, Congress must retain its right to amend and improve the trade deal for ordinary Americans. Fast track authority has been voted down before by Congress, and trade deals have been approved without fast track authorization. Congress must reject fast track authorization or at least start over to craft an inclusive fast track process.
“We mark 20 years of NAFTA by fighting harder than ever for fair trade, transparency and participation from the start by all who should be involved not just multinational corporations and appointed officials who claim to represent national security interests.”