TPP: The Elephant in the Room

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

With the constant talk of the Presidential race and debates taking up the majority of the media outlets’ time, the focus has been arbitrarily taken away from an issue of major importance – the proposed TPP.  President Obama is looking to make this a piece of landmark legislation before the end of his Presidential term, but it may come with deleterious results to American workers and their families.

Free trade deals have produced massive job losses in America’s past.  NAFTA’s passage produced the offshoring and closure of many plants, such as the Maytag plant in Galesburg, Illinois.  Reporter Peter Cole wrote about the tragic demise of the town after 2,000 good union jobs were lost.  The ripple effects are still being felt in the town, almost 22 years later.  U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman has touted the 12-nation TPP as a deal that would reap benefits to the country surpassing the achievements of the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

If job loss and trade deficits are achievements, Mr. Froman is right on the money.  Between the years of 2011-2014, approximately 75,000 jobs have been lost, and there has been a 79.3% of growth in the total U.S.-Korea trade deficit.  As is the norm in these seemingly one-sided agreements, U.S. manufacturing has taken the exorbitant hit.  Reports from groups such as the Tufts University Review have estimated that passage of the TPP will cost Americans 448,000 more jobs, most of them coming in manufacturing as well.  The passage of Fast Track last year will also give Congress no chance to change the agreement, leaving the lawmakers only with the decision to vote for or against it.

President Obama has been right on the mark for many trade issues such as trying to stem the tide of tires, steel and other manufacturing goods from being dumped on our shores, (and even on these measures he has faced stiff resistance from international trade organizations such as the WTO)  but on the TPP he is severely missing the target.  The American public needs to let its dissatisfaction be heard in the halls of power. Voters must tell Congress that passage of the TPP will be disastrous for the American worker.

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Posted In: Union Matters

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