The Time Is Now: Let’s Put an End to the TPP Once and For All

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

“To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”

These lines were written almost a century ago by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, in her poem titled “Protest.”  With many social issues being ignored in our nation at the moment, the words still ring true to the ears of the disenfranchised. Ms. Wilcox’s words also hold weight with an issue that can galvanize Americans of all ages, gender and races: the fight against TPP Free Trade Agreement.

There is still talk of President Obama and the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress attempting a ‘backdoor’ vote on the 12-nation deal, which appears to do nothing more than infringe on the sovereignty of all nations involved, not to mention the catastrophic impact it will inflict on an already fragile environment, human rights issues, and the loss of over 500,000 jobs in the United States alone.

With his fellow Harvard Law Review mate, Michael Froman, serving as the United States Trade Representative on the deal, President Obama has the perfect person in charge to foist another crippling trade treaty on the American people. Already a disciple of President Clinton’s NAFTA cheerleader, Robert Rubin, who coincidentally Froman worked with at Citigroup while collecting a handsome salary of $7.4 million in 2008 alone, Representative Froman is the perfect man to willingly push this ruse through the halls of Congress. 

Representative Froman and President Obama crowed in the early negotiations of the agreement that it would mirror many of the facets of the 2011 trade agreement with South Korea, also known as KORUS.  If the statistics of KORUS in 2016 are any indicator of how the TPP will go for us, we have much to fear.  Promised environmental and labor standards have all but been ignored, the potential of a $10 billion of surplus in the sale of export goods has turned into a nightmare trade deficit of $26.4 billion, with no end in sight. 

There was also the boast of easily 75,000 well-paying, family sustainable jobs being added to the labor rolls.  Sadly, once again, we are looking at numbers in the negative, with job losses in America from KORUS totaling over 90,000 and on the rise.

In recent months even the likes of Donald Trump have jumped on the anti-TPP bandwagon.  Senator Bernie Sanders, a longtime supporter of labor and workers’ rights has been warning us of the economic tsunami we may face if the TPP is passed.  Some university studies have even said that of the 500,000 job losses expected, over 300,000 will be in the already beleaguered manufacturing sector.  With every manufacturing job lost, six other jobs typically vanish from our shores.  Do the math, America, the future does not look very optimistic for us.

With all of these sobering facts and figures staring us in the face and the specter of more tribunals such as the WTO deciding every worker’s fate around the world, what can we possibly do to fight back?

One way to show our dissatisfaction and dissent is to attend the #NoLameDuckUprising in Washington, D.C. and nationwide, from November 12-17th.  Check out the events list with Flush the TPP on Facebook, @FlushtheTPP onTwitter, or flushthetpp.org. Come down for a few hours, the day, the whole week, if possible; just add your voice to the process.

Please read more of the words and wisdom of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from ‘Protest’: “Until God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed and given back to labor, let no man call this the land of freedom.”

The time is now, workers of America, to show our true power of speech and engage in peaceful protest against our neglectful representation in Washington and their powerful corporate backers.  Historian, playwright and social activist, Howard Zinn, could not have said it better: “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”

We have the chance to denounce this horrendous, rights-stripping, job-cutting, environmentally unsafe treaty by massing in the streets. I urge you to not let this opportunity slip by.

Remember that dissent and protest, in its purest form can achieve real change in the process of governance and the implementation of laws which reflect the true spirit of judicial righteousness towards the populous of a democratic nation.

With that being said, I look forward to seeing you in the streets.

You can contact Richard on Twitter @stlwrkr4889.

Posted In: Union Matters

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