USW Commends Congressman Levin’s Plan for An Effective Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Contact: Roy Houseman (202) 778-4384, rhouseman@usw.org

(Washington, D.C.) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement today:

“Michigan Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-9th District) paper highlights the need for serious and extensive debate on what the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) must include to successfully promote America’s interests. For many months, the congressman has argued that the focus needs to be on the merits of TPP, not on the process for considering these types of agreements.

“Rep. Levin has identified numerous factors to help make progress towards resolving the outstanding issues in the TPP.  His ideas raise important considerations that must be addressed in a revitalized discussion about the substance of TPP. The issues he raises are among the ones that the USW has been engaged in since the beginning of negotiations.

“TPP must be a high-standard agreement. Its current proposals fall short, and Rep. Levin is correct in pushing for necessary improvements at the negotiating table.  

“For example, our trading partners must establish effective disciplines against currency manipulation. In addition, Congress must also pass domestic legislation to address this issue. Currency manipulation robs American farmers, workers and businesses of opportunity.

“Rep. Levin highlights the difficulties confronting the United States on worker and human rights. This key issue needs to be forcefully and measurably addressed with many of the TPP countries.

“He also raises the issues of transparency and how much more needs to be done to fully and faithfully inform members of Congress, their staffs, cleared advisors and the public.   Despite claims of transparency, the process and product remain relatively opaque, even to cleared advisors.

“In many areas, the congressman has identified other issues that are in need of real attention and debate.  What is clear to the USW is that a lot more work needs to be done.  While Rep. Levin’s agenda is a starting point, it must go even further.

“Right now, U.S. negotiators are rushing to conclude a deal. Arbitrary deadlines will only diminish American opportunity by giving our trading partners the upper hand. They can sit on their hands knowing that U.S. negotiators are watching the clock, looking to conclude an agreement with less than adequate results for American workers and their families.

“The congressman is absolutely correct in insisting that we get TPP right before we pass Fast Track legislation. Fast Track only diminishes Congress’ leverage to get a deal that is good for our economy. We need more than an agreement that promotes the foreign policy interests of our allies and the bottom lines of multinational corporations.  

“Unfortunately, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is not interested in real dialogue and debate, but instead wants to grease the wheels for a “take it or leave it” approach for Congress. That tactic seriously jeopardizes the growth and economic gains that have been achieved in the past several years.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.  For more information: http://www.usw.org

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