The League of Un-Extraordinary Gentleman (and Ladies)

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

Labor Day weekend is once again upon us, our last gasp of summer, as we ready ourselves for the return of the school year, the end of summer and a new football season, with all its promise and hope of a fresh start for our favorite teams.

What we don’t normally think about is the concept of Labor Day and the fact that this holiday was distinctly brought about because of the great strides and sacrifices labor unions made for the American people.

What also seems to be forgotten are the lame duck sessions of Congress, one of which will be starting very shortly.  President Barack Obama apparently will still be on his crusade of trying to make the American public believe that one sided, job killing, non-labor friendly, human and environmental rights crushing, mega-free trade agreements are in the best interests of the nation, as he tries to ram legislation for the passage of the TPP Trade Agreement through as soon as possible.

Let’s take a quick look at how our last trade agreement with Korea has fared.

Originally devised by the Bush Administration, KORUS took on a life of its own when left in the hands of the Obama Administration and its U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman.  In news conferences, President Obama promised that the revamped deal, with his administration’s stamp of approval on it, would give better labor and environmental standards, $10 billion of surplus in the sale of export goods and a net gain of 75,000 good-paying jobs for the American people.

Sounds promising, correct?  Let’s take a look at the sobering numbers of what actually happened with this supposed benchmark deal.

Five years after its passage, this "grand" trade deal, which the 12-nation, TPP mega-deal is crafted to resemble, has cost American workers 95,000 jobs (and rising), and put us into a trade DEFICIT with Korea of more than $26.4 billion (and rising).

So, why does this group of free trade loving, neoliberals with their biggest cheerleader, former Treasury Secretary ‘NAFTA’ Bob Rubin always lurking in the background, keep ramming down our throats the false promise that free trade is good? 

The answer is located no further than in the halls of Congress, or the steel and glass edifices located in the canyons of greed, namely, New York’s Financial District and Wall Street. 

When you realize that the president’s right-hand man on trade is a long-time compatriot from their Harvard days on the Law Review, and that their tie to free trade lover Rubin comes through Froman and his association at Citigroup, where Froman made $7.4 million in 2008 alone (coincidentally, the crash year he and his banking buddies helped foist on all of us), you can’t help but think it’s the continuation of crony capitalism and the greed of the 1 percent being satiated once again, at the cost, once again, of American jobs.

When will this madness of selling the American worker out end; apparently not anytime soon.

Into the middle of all of this has marched a cataclysmic choice: a narcissistic billionaire who forgets what he believes in from minute to minute, crows about the need to manufacture here again while not even doing it with his own line of clothing, who then picks a VP nominee in Pence, who as a congressman voted for every FTA that crossed his desk, and as governor, urged his state’s congressional contingent to back promotion of TPA, TPP and the mega-European agreement, the TTIP.  We need to put an end to these pillagers, who have laid the American worker as their sacrifice at the altar of greed. 

On this Labor Day, think of the sixty-five thousand American factories shuttered since the year 2000 alone.  Think of the towns devastated by free trade and the social ills that followed their losses.  I urge you to call your congressional offices and tell them to put an end to this madness and vote against the TPP.

American workers -- Sept. 5 is OUR Labor Day, not the fat cats of closed door, Ivy League think tanks, the bankers or Wall Street. 

Make your voice heard; say NO to the TPP.

You can contact Richard on Twitter @stlwrkr4889.

Posted In: Union Matters

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