Seattle, WA – Today, scores of protesters descended on the Federal Building with a message for Senators Murray and Cantwell: Oppose the TPP. The rally was part of an international day of protest that swept through cities in twelve countries around the Pacific Rim, as the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement was signed in Auckland. In Seattle and across the world, protesters called out the prominence of corporate interests in the deal, which could threaten laws we rely on for environmental protection, financial stability, affordable medicine safe food, and local jobs.
With the signing of the TPP, Congress could face a vote any day on whether or not to approve the agreement. Protesters were clear in their demand – a giant banner, raised into the air by a helium balloon to float outside the Senators’ offices, read “TPP = Betrayal.”
“We are tired of corporate interests stealing our jobs, ruining our environment, and undermining our health and security.” said Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition Gillian Locascio. “Now, the decision rests with U.S. Congress—accept this deal, or reject it and demand fair trade policy.”
As protesters gathered here, trade negotiators representing 12 countries, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States, gathered in Auckland to sign the TPP. After the signing, the agreement will need to be ratified by each of the participating countries.
In solidarity with protests occurring internationally, those present in Seattle represented the more than 70 Washington labor, faith, environmental, farmer and social justice groups that make up the fair trade coalition.
“As a national network of students working in partnership with farmers, fishermen, and food chain workers, we are united in our concern that the TPP will threaten the progress we have made improving the equity and sustainability of our food system — and contribute to the very problems we are working to change,” said West Regional Coordinator Estefania Narvaez of the Real Food Challenge, an organization involved in the coalition and that leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair, and green food system.
Environmental and labor concerns are at the forefront of TPP opposition. Seattle Council member Mike O’Brien sponsored the Seattle resolution against fast tracking the TPP last year because of how the agreement would impact the Council’s ability to legislate on environmental and labor issues central to their work. The city is following up with a letter to members of Congress expressing their deep concerns about the TPP.
“Seattle supports fair trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal weakens conservation standards set in previous trade agreements and encourages our global dependence on fossil fuels,” said O’Brien. “Worse, the ISDS system threatens local laws designed to protect the public interest and our environment.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW 21) highlighted how expanded corporate rights in the TPP threaten issues at the heart of labor, food, and economic rights. Under a similar provision as that in the TPP, the World Trade Organization (WTO) recently ruled against the U.S. country of origin labeling law (COOL) for beef and pork, violating consumer rights in favor of corporate interests.
“The recent WTO ruling in which US grocery store workers and customers will know less about the origins of meat, flies in the face of the growing public demand to know more about our food,” said Todd Crosby President of the UFCW 21. “The TPP threatens to further obscure the grocery supply chain by letting foreign companies challenge US labeling in secret tribunals, taking away our members’ and our communities’ right to know about their food.”
Taking the streets, those present marched down to the Federal Building, chanting and drumming, to deliver the message to Senators Murray and Cantwell.
“The U.S. Chambers of Commerce announced that they are ‘rolling up their sleeves’ to pass TPP, so we are rolling up our sleeves to fight back,” said Locascio. “We are sending a message here in Washington and to the world—TPP is betrayal.”
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JOIN THE NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY ON FEBRUARY 8 and 9, TELL YOUR US SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES TO OPPOSE TPP