Last week, a letter asking for stronger labor protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership was co-signed by 153 members of the House of Representatives, with leadership from U.S. House Representatives Adam Smith and Jim McDermott.
The letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman described the history of failed promises on labor rights and called for special attention to countries like Vietnam where workers have faced extraordinary abuses. Drawing on these experiences, the letter made a case that once a trade agreement passed by Congress, all leverage to improve labor conditions was lost, and asked the USTR to insist that such countries implement the labor laws and practices negotiated in the agreement before Congress takes up TPP for consideration.
Notably, Representatives Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck chose not to sign the letter, despite having signed on to a similar letter seeking strong controls in TPP against currency manipulation and one proposing strong environmental protections in the TPP. All 10 Washington House members (Republicans and Democrats) co-sponsored an earlier letter protecting US cheese and dairy products in TTIP – the trade agreement being negotiated with the European Union.
Please call and thank Jim McDermott and Adam Smith for standing up for labor in trade negotiations.
Take any chance you have to remind Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen that the environment, currency manipulation, dairy products AND labor rights deserve high priority in our trade policies. We don’t need another trade deal that puts investor rights above public interest.
**Update: Rep. DelBene has written her own letter to USTR expressing her concern for protecting labor standards in the TPP. Rep. DelBene, thank you for joining the majority who have spoken out on this important issue. **
Promises from free trade advocates have fallen short time after time. The burden of proof has now shifted to US Trade negotiators. Our elected officials need to get binding enforceable labor protections in writing before any vote on TPP.
Find your Representative’s contact information here.
See the full Dear Colleague letter: Dear Colleague letter to USTR on Labor Protections in the TPP.