ALLENTOWN, PA – Today the Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition held a rally at the Allentown office of Congressman Charlie Dent that featured a giant roll of toilet paper bearing the words, “Flush the TPP.” Other activists waved poles topped with rolls of toilet paper, off of which strips with the same message wafted in the breeze. Others held signs saying “Stop the TPP” in the company of a costumed TPP zombie. Today is the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a national day of action sponsored by the Citizens Trade Campaign, of which the PA Fair Trade Coalition is our state affiliate. Scores of local fair trade activists – environmentalists, union members and human rights supporters rallied to demand that Congressman Dent vote against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Phila Back, the local volunteer organizer explained, “This past November 5, the President released the secretly-negotiated TPP text and announced his intention to sign it in early February, 2016. A 90-day public review is in progress and the agreement is expected to receive a Fast-Tracked vote in Congress in March or April.”
George Piasecki, USW Rapid Response Coordinator for PA said, “We have lost more than 60,000 factories and more than six million jobs since NAFTA. The TPP will be the largest trade agreement to date, encompassing more than 40% of the worlds economy. This is supposed to be the model for all future agreements. This Bad trade deal fails to address human rights, workers rights, food safety and the environment.
Instead of signing on to all these bad trade agreements our members of congress should focus on creating jobs here at home. They can start by closing tax loopholes for allowing the off shoring of our jobs and investing in world class infrastructure to attract business and create good jobs here in the U.S.”
The released text confirms that it is a threat to American jobs and wages as well as labor, environmental, food safety and financial safeguards while it reduces access to affordable medicine and internet freedom.
“The TPP is a big corporate giveaway,” said Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper. “If passed, the TPP will grease the wheels for more intense drilling, fracking, LNG exports and fracked gas pipelines, with all the pollution, illness, environmental devastation and eminent domain land grabs they bring.”
The TPP includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that allows nearly ten thousand foreign corporations to sue the federal government in secret international tribunals for unlimited taxpayer compensation on the grounds that some local, state or federal law threatens their expected future profits. Back declared, “ISDS undermines our nation’s sovereignty.”
Labor standards in the TPP are unenforceable and are expected to do little to alleviate slave labor and child labor in Southeast Asian partner countries. Karen Berry, local human rights citizen advocate said, “As an American concerned about human rights all over the world and as an Amnesty International member, I am disturbed that our government may be endorsing a trade agreement that severely disadvantages workers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia by not protecting them from work condition abuses and human trafficking related to employment.”
At the conclusion of the rally, activists delivered a petition to Congressman Dent’s office demanding that he oppose the TPP.