Berkeley Says No To Corporate Trade Takeover

Berkeley Says No To Corporate Trade Takeover

By Phoebe Anne Sorgen and Ruth Caplan

Originally posted in PopularResistance.org

Above photo: TPP protest in San Francisco, February, 2014. SFBayview.com. Photo by Carol Harvey.

If you would like to pass a similar resolution in your community, here are helpful tools:

Pointers for getting TPP-Free Zone laws passed.

TPP Free Zone model legislation.

In an almost unanimous vote by the Berkeley City Council Tuesday evening, the city went on record in opposition to the two major trade agreements under negotiation by the United States – the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) – and declared Berkeley to be a “TPP/TAFTA Free Zone.”

The “Berkeley Resolution to Protect Democracy and the Public Interest from TAFTA & TPP Trade Agreements” cites specific ways these agreements would rob Berkeley of needed economic protection for jobs and local business and would threaten financial stability.

During the debate, Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who introduced the resolution, noted that chapters of the TPP would impose limits on the ability of governments to tackle climate change and to require green purchasing by government.

Also during the debate, Councilmember Max Anderson observed:  “I guess we are waiting for the great sucking sound.  Our experience should teach us something …these corporate schemes are not enacted in our benefit….”

Phoebe Sorgen, who worked with Diana Bohn of the Council’s Peace and Justice Commission to bring this issue to the City Council, praised the Council saying,  “I’m proud to help Berkeley lead again on a global issue with tremendous local impact.  May this spread!”

The resolution declares Berkeley to be a TPP and TAFTA Free Zone where Berkeley will not recognize trade provisions and tribunal rulings related to these agreements. Specifically, it states:

“to every extent allowable by law, rules which do not promote the interests of workers, protect the environment, and improve the quality of life in all participating countries and which were negotiated without transparency as well as meaningful congressional and public input, and related tribunals’ rulings, will not be recognized.”

The City Council resolution, which follows similar resolutions passed by Dane County WI and Madison WI on the TPP, encourages communities to take “peacefully powerful actions for self-determination such as becoming TPP/TAFTA-Free Zones.”

Ruth Caplan with the Alliance for Democracy, who first proposed TPP Free Zones on a labor/farm panel at the 2013 Democracy Convention, praised the Berkeley City Council and committed local citizens.  “It is time we take action locally and let Congress know we are not going to stand by while corporations hit the jackpot and citizens are left with crumbs,” she said.  “It is time to build strong resistance in our communities.  To see this resistance start to build around the country is inspiring.  We planted a seed and now it is sprouting.”