Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro informed, inspired, and motivated more than 200 people at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Raising Wages Summit in Concord with a simple story about her upbringing.
“As the daughter of a garment worker, the fight for workers’ rights has always had a special place in my heart,” DeLauro said. “My mother toiled in the sweatshops of New Haven garment factories, sewing shirt collars for pennies a piece. Every day, I work to ensure that her early struggles were not in vain.”
DeLauro praised the proud history of the labor movement and highlighted some of the many accomplishments labor has along the way.
“Without the labor movement and organized labor, we would not have weekends or the minimum wage,” she said.
Factories would be death-traps. Children would still be working long hours.
“There would be no Social Security, no Unemployment Insurance, no Family and Medical Leave Act. In fact, without unions, there would be no middle class,” DeLauro said.
The Raising Wages Summit gathered policy experts and political leaders to talk about how society must raise the wages of working men and women to grow the economy. Stagnant wages have plagued workers for more than three decades now.
“Today, the single biggest economic challenge facing American families is that they are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on,” said DeLauro.
“Wages have been stagnant and in decline for 40 years. Families are struggling,” she said.
“All of this is a result of misguided Republican ‘trickle down’ policies that never do trickle down. They just benefit the wealthiest few rather than the backbone of our country – the middle class,” she said.
Over the past thirty years, the middle class has slowly evaporated as wages slowly declined. The decline is wages is due in part to the elected leaders from both parties championing trade policies that push workers aside to favor large multi-national corporations. Trade policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have harmed working class people.
The TPP is the largest trade agreement in history and will affect over 40% of the world’s economy.
“The TPP would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ‘trade’ pact model that has spurred massive U.S. trade deficits and job loss, downward pressure on wages, unprecedented levels of inequality and new floods of agricultural imports. The TPP not only replicates, but expands NAFTA’s special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs,” wrote the government watchdog, Public Citizen.
Elected leaders like DeLauro have worked against the TPP from the very beginning. She is more upset with the proposed agreement now that the text has officially been released.
“The agreement has been negotiated in secret with undemocratic countries and will cost Americans their jobs and reduce their wages,” DeLauro explained.
“Like with previous trade agreements, the TPP does nothing to curb currency manipulation, which allows countries to keep the price of their goods artificially low, putting our products at a disadvantage,” DeLauro continued.
Failed trade policies like NAFTA have led to a loss of 5 million jobs throughout the United States and over 145,000 jobs here in New Hampshire.
The problems with the TPP are numerous and in the video below, she explains many more examples of how the TPP fails to protect American jobs, the environment, food safety, and fails to protect us from greedy pharmaceutical companies.
“The Administration will claim that it consulted with labor while shaping the agreement, but all of the improvements that were requested by labor organizations and progressive members of Congress were ignored,” DeLauro said.
The fight over TPP is far from over, as Congress will now begin reviewing the text before casting their vote.
“With the AFL-CIO and a united labor movement leading the charge, for the first time in history, nearly every major progressive organization in the country has come together to form a united front against the agreement,” DeLauro said.
“We have rallied environmental groups, human rights groups, consumer protection advocates, faith groups, LGBT rights groups, healthcare advocates, and many more.”