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AFL-CIO Releases New Video About One Mother’s Food Safety Fears About The TPP

Ahead of Mother’s Day, Pregnant Mom Discusses TPP Food Safety Fears in New AFL-CIO Trade Video

(Washington, DC, ) – As Mother’s Day approaches, the AFL-CIO released a video featuring a pregnant mom who’s concerned that the secrecy around food labeling and regulations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could negatively impact her unborn child.

“American families deserve to know that the food on their dinner tables is safe.” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The TPP will undermine U.S. food safety regulations and once again put the greed of corporations ahead of the safety of working families. This is unacceptable.”

“As an expectant mother I already have a lot of anxiety when it comes to doing grocery shopping and trying to figure out what I can trust,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue. “We don’t know what type of additives or antibiotics are being put into our food. Some of the stuff might not even be specified in labels. I think it’s a very terrifying thought.”

This video is the third in a series examining the real human impact of trade agreements like the TPP. Watch the first video on how the TPP could put the lives of cancer patients in danger and the second warns that TPP would double down on NAFTA’s economic devastation.

Leo W Gerard: American Workers Crushed Under China’s Deliberate Overproduction

Image by Glasseye View Flikr CC

Image by Glasseye View Flikr CC

I went to Washington, D.C., last week to ask trade experts and lawmakers to stop the relentless, lawless, callous dumping of Chinese steel, aluminum, paper, rubber, glass, chemicals and other products, which has closed mills, killed jobs, destroyed lives, devastated American communities and imperiled national security.

American steel is made in the most efficient, cost-effective mills in the world by the most skilled, productive workers anywhere. That’s a fact. It’s a fact that steel executives testified to last week in hearings conducted by members of Congress and trade law enforcers. We want the trade enforcers and Congress to stop the dumping and to force China to dramatically cut its steel production because China has kept none of its promises over the past seven years to voluntarily do so. In fact, it has continuously increased production.

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China makes way, way too much steel. In 2015, it produced nearly 500 million tonsmore than it needed. It did that to keep its citizens employed, its mills running and its country free of civic unrest.

That would be fine if China just put all of that extra steel in a warehouse somewhere. But it dumped more than 100 million tons in overseas markets in 2015. Production of that steel was subsidized by the Chinese government in ways that violate international trade rules, so the price was artificially low. And Chinasuppresses the value of its currency, further falsely reducing the cost of the steel.

Even the most efficient mills in the world can’t compete with a country. So they shut down.

On Tuesday, Sam Pantello, a maintenance mechanical technician at EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo, Colo., told the U.S. Trade Representative that 260 of his fellow workers are laid off and EVRAZ is running at 65 percent capacity all because of Chinese dumping.  Here is what he said:

“We produce high-quality steel cost-effectively and efficiently and are the only manufacturer of steel rail west of the Mississippi. And yet, because of steel dumping, I have co-workers out of a job, worrying about making their next mortgage or car payment, and that just isn’t right.”

This didn’t happen overnight. China has been ramping up production of steel and aluminum and other commodities for over a decade. It ships the excess overseas. That floods international markets, artificially depressing prices worldwide. That bankrupts factories and mills that operate on Western free market principles, causing unemployment and shattering communities. The devastation has occurred across the United States, Great Britain and Europe.

Everyone is affected, from the guy who digs the iron ore out of the ground to the guy who sells burgers to workers leaving the mill on shift change. Dan Pierce, a diesel mechanic at the U.S. Steel Keewatin Taconite mine in Hibbing, Minn., explained this to the U.S. Trade Representative. Because so many steel mills are partly or completely shut down, the demand for taconite, which is processed into iron ore pellets, is slim. U.S. Steel closed the Keewatin Taconite mine last May and laid off nearly all of the 360 workers, including Pierce.

“Not being able to work for the past 11 months has put stress on me, my family and my friends as we wrestle with the uncertainty of if, and when, I will be able to return to work. Our family has had to hold off on home repairs and cut back on groceries and eating out. When we do this, and you multiply it by all of the other workers going through the same things, it means local businesses suffer as people make less trips to places like the Super One Foods or the Erikson lumberyard. Everything in the [iron] range depends on the mining companies running. When they’re shut down, it affects everyone, from daycare providers to local car dealerships to hospitals,” Pierce explained.

The effect of China dumping its excessive production into the world market is massive layoffs, both in the United States and in Europe. Last week Britain demanded that China rein in its overcapacity after Tata Steel announced it was placing its partly closed British mills on the auction block, putting 15,000 jobs at risk.

In the United States, 13,500 steelworkers hold layoff notices, and earlier this month, 750 U.S. Steel white-collar workers learned they’d lose their jobs too. The crisis has hit aluminum just as hard. Five years ago, 14 aluminum smelters ran in this country. Now there are five. Another is slated to close in June. If it does, 6,500 aluminum workers will have lost their jobs. These are good, family-supporting jobs with benefits and pensions.  This is China exporting unemployment.

Tim Davis, a crane operator at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills in McMinnville, Ore., told the U.S. Trade Representative what it means to lose that kind of job. His mill makes rebar, coiled steel wire and flat bar. Because of dumped coiled wire and rebar, Cascade is running on reduced days and furloughed 70 workers, including Davis.

“Cascade Steel isn’t just a job to me. It helped raise me. The paychecks my dad received from working there when I was growing up allowed me to participate in sports while I was in school, paid for our family vacations and ensured that I had a roof over my head and food on the table. I want that for my family. I want to know that as long as I work hard to provide for my family that they can have the same childhood I did thanks to my dad working hard at Cascade Steel.

“I am proud to follow in my father’s footsteps in the manufacturing industry, and I would hope that my children would be proud to follow us if that is what they choose to do, but for that to happen, there needs to be an American manufacturing industry around for them to do so, and at the current rate of American factories closing their doors for good, I’m concerned they won’t have that option.

“At this pace, the only option my kids will have is college, the military or working at a retail store that was built with foreign materials, selling foreign-made products, and then bagging purchases up in foreign-made bags,” he told the Trade Representative.

Since 2009, China has repeatedly acknowledged that it makes too much steel and promised to stop. But it doesn’t. It just makes even more. Even at a loss.

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Again in January China said it would cut production. This time by 100 million tons by 2020. That is not nearly enough. It would, in fact, be insignificant, only about a fifth of its overproduction. But then just last month, China’s Baosteel, a major state-owned company, announced that it would increase production by 20 percent this year.

To put China’s excess in perspective, the nearly 500 million tons it overproduced in 2015 is more than five times the steel forged in the United States, and the United States is the third-largest producer of steel in the world. In 2000, China had just slightly more steelmaking capacity than the United States, but since then, it increased so dramatically that now China has 1.2 billion tons of capacity. That is more than 10 times the capacity of the United States, where production declined over that period.

China’s capacity now exceeds that of the United States, Japan, the European Union, and Russia combined. That means every mill in the United States, Japan, Russia and the European Union could shut down, all of those workers could lose their jobs, all of those communities could crumble and China would reap the benefits by exporting all of its steel and further expanding its industry.

If those countries rolled over and let China do that.

David Clark, a maintenance utility worker at the U.S. Steel Fairfield Tubular Operations in Alabama, previewed for the U.S. Trade Representative what such a China takeover could mean. Much of the Fairfield works shut down in August, and 1,000 steelworkers were laid off. The local union has set up a food bank to help families get by. “My community is struggling,” he told the trade officials.

“The outlook is bleak for the business in our town. All of the suppliers in the area have been forced to cut positions. Some local gas stations have ceased 24-hour operations as the traffic at shift changes went away. And retailers are leaving the city. Shortly after the closure, Walmart and other retailers left the city of Fairfield, and the loss of sales tax revenue has placed the city in dire financial situations. It has gotten to the point where the city council in Fairfield is debating closure of the police department and the suspension of other city services in order to survive.”

Clark said what every steelworker told the trade officials and what we all told Congress: “No U.S. steelworker should have to lose a job to allow unfairly traded steel into this country.”

The corporate officials asked the U.S. Trade Representative and Congress to act to save an industry vital to national security. I told the same officials to stop swallowing false promises of change from China and impose broad-based import restraints, take comprehensive, enforceable measures to reduce global overcapacity and definitively declare that China does not qualify as a market economy under U.S. law.

“I implore this committee to consider the true cost of allowing terrible policies and bad trade agreements to continue destroying the very thing that made this country what it is. We became the strongest, most powerful country in the world because American blue-collar workers carried us there on their backs on their quest to achieve the American Dream. Each and every unfair trade deal we jump into is destroying the legacy that our forefathers created with sweat on their brow and calluses on their hands.”

On International Women’s Day, AFL-CIO Talks Of How TPP Will Negatively Impact Women

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler Highlights TPP’s Negative Impact on Women 

AFL-CIO Releases Fact Sheet on International Women’s Day 

Women and TPP(Washington, DC, March 8, 2016) – On a press call in honor of International Women’s Day, Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and Thea Lee, AFL-CIO Deputy Chief of Staff, discussed the negative impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on women across the world.

“This International Women’s Day, the labor movement recognizes that while women in the workplace have gained a great deal, the harsh reality is too many of us continue to struggle when we shouldn’t have to,” said Shuler. “The bad policies of the TPP are another corporate attack on women and we will continue to fight for policies that lift all women up and recognize the immense contributions we make to the economy.”

“There is no question that flawed trade agreements and policies have cost America’s working women good jobs and have contributed to stagnant wages and growing inequality,” said Lee. “We need to address unfair trade practices like currency manipulation, illegal subsidies and workers’ rights violations and must defeat TPP so we do not accelerate the race to the bottom that benefits global corporations.”

Read the fact sheet: Bad Trade Deals and Their Impact on Women Globally
Lower Wages, Reduced Access to Lifesaving Healthcare and Human Trafficking

Kuster Introduces Bill to Increase Trade Opportunities for New Hampshire Businesses

 The “Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act” would facilitate U.S. preclearance operations in Canada 

Washington, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the “Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act” in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation would streamline travel and commerce operations between the U.S. and Canada, thereby expanding trade opportunities for Granite State businesses and helping to strengthen our national security. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate today.

“Since taking office, I have made job creation and support for local business a number one priority. I’m proud to join with Senator Leahy to introduce this bill, which will increase economic and trade opportunities for New Hampshire companies all across the state,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “What’s more, this bill will benefit our tourism sector, which is New Hampshire’s second largest industry. By streamlining travel processes between the U.S. and Canada, my bill will strengthen our national security by helping law enforcement stop individuals who pose a potential threat before they step foot on our soil. This is a win-win all around, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together to pass this important piece of legislation.”

“I am proud to support the introduction of this important legislation today along with my House and Senate colleagues. This preclearance agreement between Canada and the United States promotes travel and trade between our two countries and strengthens security along our border. U.S.-Canada trade supports millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. This legislation will  strengthen those ties and provide Customs and Border Protection agents with the tools to keep our nations secure,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

The legislation introduced today paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at land, rail, marine, and air ports of departure in Canada. The United States currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada.  These facilities allow travelers to pass through CBP inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the United States, and protecting national security by preventing those who should not be traveling to the United States from doing so before they arrive. 

Under a new agreement, the United States will expand its preclearance operations in Canada, which will include rail preclearance facilities for the first time. The Leahy-Kuster authored legislation ensures that the U.S. has the legal authority to hold U.S. officials accountable if they engage in wrongdoing while stationed in Canada – a necessary prerequisite to full implementation of this agreement. 

The bill was introduced in the House today by Congresswoman Annie Kuster, and in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as the chief Republican cosponsor.  The other original cosponsors of the House bill are Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Dan Benishek (MI-01), Dan NewHouse (WA-04), Kevin Cramer (ND-AL), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Chris Collins (NY-27), and Ron Kind (WI-03).

Since taking office, Kuster has pushed for increased job creation and economic opportunity for Granite Staters. She is the author of a Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Agenda, a blueprint based on meetings with Granite State residents, families, and business owners that outlines common sense steps to help create jobs in New Hampshire. Through her Congress-At-Your-Company series, Kuster routinely visits small businesses and economic development projects across the state to hear how she can help support their success, and she has hosted a number of job fairs to connect employers with Granite Staters looking for work.

Bernie Sanders Vows To Kill The Job Killing TPP

“Trade is a good thing. But trade has got to be fair.
And the TPP is anything but fair,”

CONCORD, N.H. – As the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact was signed by the United States and 11 other countries, Bernie Sanders promised to “fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to benefit working families, not just the CEOs of large, multinational corporations.”

Sanders has opposed the Pacific trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China since day one. The North American Free Trade Agreement led to the loss of 700,000 jobs. The trade deal with China led to the loss of 3.2 million jobs. And since 2001, nearly 60,000 manufacturing plants have been shut down and 4.7 million jobs have been lost.

“Trade is a good thing. But trade has got to be fair. And the TPP is anything but fair,” Sanders said.

In addition to shipping thousands of jobs overseas, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would increase already skyrocketing drug prices and threaten American laws that protect the environment, workers and consumers.

“As your president, not only will I make sure that the TPP does not get implemented, I will not send any trade deal to Congress that will make it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs overseas,” Sanders said.

The Communication Workers Of America On The Release Of Trans-Pacific Partnership Text

CWA-blue-lineWashington, D.C. — Following is a statement by CWA President Chris Shelton on the public release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership texts:

With the release of the Trans-Pacific  Partnership texts, it’s finally time to learn whether the TPP is in fact nothing more than the latest in a long line of trade agreements negotiated by and for the 1 percent.

The Communications Workers of America, like many others, is reviewing the texts. But based on what we’ve already seen and learned about this deal, we’re not likely to change our position that this TPP is a disaster for working families and communities.

Even a cursory review demonstrates how this trade deal fails working families. It forces U.S. workers to compete with the 65-cent an hour wages of Vietnamese workers and the slave labor employed in Malaysia. It allows multinational corporations to challenge environmental, financial, consumer and other regulations through international tribunals – and outside the court systems of member countries. It pays lip service to addressing real concerns about currency manipulation that costs American jobs and leads to more jobs being sent offshore. And it allies the U.S. with countries that abuse their own citizens, including Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.

AFL-CIO President “Deeply Disappointed” In Text Of Newly Released TPP

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement after
the release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text:

Richard_TrumkaAfter six long years, the secrecy is over.  The public finally has a chance to scrutinize the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for themselves instead of having to rely on characterizations made by the agreement’s supporters.  America’s voters can now make their own judgment  about whether it meets their high standards for a 21st Century agreement that will raise wages, protect our democracy, and promote sustainable growth and development.

From what we have reviewed so far, we are deeply disappointed that our policy recommendations and those of our trade reform allies in the environmental, consumer, public health, global development, and business sectors were largely ignored.  The investment rules still provide expansive new legal rights and powers to foreign businesses to challenge legitimate government actions, the labor enforcement provisions are still inadequate to address the enormous challenges posed by this deal, and the lack of enforceable currency rules subject to trade sanctions mean the promised new export markets may never materialize.

We will be examining the text line by line in the coming days to understand the deal’s full implications for working people in every sector from manufacturing and agriculture to public and private services.  But from what we have already seen, it is clear that the threats of this expansive new agreement outweigh its benefits —  for good jobs, for democracy, for affordable medicines, for consumer safety, and for the environment. The hardworking families of the AFL-CIO will join with our allies to defeat the TPP. 

What You Should Know About That Completed TPP “Trade” Deal

global deal free tradeSpecial Guest Post from Dave Johnson of Campaign For America’s Future.  

Countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) say they have reached a deal. So here it comes.

Monday morning it was announced that a “Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached,” presented as much as a foreign policy success as a “trade” deal.

“The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific basin nations on Monday agreed after years of negotiations to the largest regional trade accord in history, an economic pact envisioned as a bulwark against China’s power and a standard-setter for global commerce, worker rights and environmental protection.

… The trade initiative, dating to the start of his administration, is a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s economic program to expand exports. It also stands as a capstone for his foreign policy “pivot” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.

The effect the deal will have on actual “trade” is unclear, since the U.S. already has trade agreements with many of the participating countries. Also much of the deal appears to be about things people would not usually consider “trade”, like investor rights and limits on the ability of countries to regulate.

Though the deal remains secret, here is some of what is known about the agreement deal.

● Currency manipulation is not addressed in TPP, even though Congress’ “fast track” legislation said it must be. To get around this, a “side agreement” supposedly sets up a “forum” on currency. Past side agreements have proven unenforceable. For this reason Ford Motor Company has already publicly announced opposition to TPP.

● A “tobacco carve-out” is in the deal, in some form. This was added because the agreement contains investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions that will allow corporations to sue governments that use laws or regulations to try to restrict what the companies do. These provisions restrict the ability of governments to protect their citizens so thoroughly that tobacco companies have used ISDS provisions in similar agreements to sue governments that try to help smokers quit or prevent children from starting smoking. TPP proponents felt that this carve-out will help TPP to pass, while the ability to limit other laws and regulations remains.

● President Obama has said TPP includes the “strongest labor provisions of any free trade agreement in history.” Previous “trade” agreements do not even stop labor organizers from being murdered, so even if TPP has “stronger” labor provisions, that is an extremely low bar.

● TPP reduces or eliminates many tariffs, further encouraging companies to move factories out of the U.S. to low-wage countries like Vietnam. An example of the effect TPP will have on U.S. manufacturing is Nike vs. New Balance. Nike already outsources its manufacturing to take advantage of low wages, while New Balance is trying to continue to manufacture in the U.S. When tariffs on imported shoes are eliminated Nike will gain an even greater advantage over New Balance. New Balance has said that the tariff reductions in TPP will force it to stop manufacturing inside the US.

● The reduction and elimination of tariffs reduces revenues for the governments involved.

What Next?

Here is a brief rundown on what to expect as TPP begins to make its way toward a Congressional vote:

● The TPP is still secret and according to the terms in this year’s fast-track legislation it will remain secret for 30 days after the president formally notifies Congress that he will sign it. That could be a while still, as the agreement’s details need to be “ironed out.” After that 30-day wait the full text has to be public for 60 days before Congress can vote. The full timeline is yet to unfold and will be reported here as it does.

● Expect a massive and massively funded corporate PR push. The biggest corporations very much want TPP. It massively benefits the interests of giant corporations and the “investor” class, even as it incentivizes moving jobs and production out of the U.S.

● While only a small portion of TPP is about what people would normally consider to be “trade,” TPP will be heavily pushed as a “trade” deal. Many people believe that “expanding trade” increases jobs. Note that closing a U.S. factory and importing the same goods “expands trade” because those goods cross a border.

Also see the American Prospect, “What’s Next for the TPP: Clyde Prestowitz in Conversation with David Dayen.”

Questions To Ask About TPP

When the still-secret TPP becomes public, these are some of the questions the public will want answered:

● What do regular, non-wealthy people in the U.S. get from TPP? Will it increase American wages? Will it have provisions that force wage increases in countries that currently pay very little, thereby helping those workers (and helping them buy American-made products, too) and reducing downward pressure on American wages? Or will there be NAFTA-style provisions encouraging outsourcing to low-wage countries like Vietnam, creating further downward pressure on wages and increasing inequality?

● What do people in the U.S. lose? For example, the Los Angeles Times explains, “U.S. industries such as auto, textiles and dairy, however, could experience some losses as they are likely to face greater competitive pressures from Vietnam, Japan and New Zealand.”

● Does the TPP contain badly needed provisions to require member countries to jointly fight global climate change?

● Will provisions on state-owned enterprises force further privatization of publicly owned and publicly operated infrastructure like the U.S. Postal Service, highways, water systems and other public utilities – even services like municipal parking operations?

● Will TPP enable the U.S. to continue using tax dollars to help American companies, like our “Buy America” procurement policies?

● Will TPP expand imports from countries where food is often found to contain banned toxic chemicals? If so, will TPP require increases in food and product safety standards and inspections?

● Does the TPP increase oversight of financial companies like banks, insurance companies and hedge funds?

TPP Pits Obama, Republicans, Wall Street And Big Corporations Against Democrats, Labor, Progressives

While still secret, the agreement is likely to have many of the same proponents and opponents as the fast-track trade promotion authority battle had. As the Los Angeles Times words ittoday, it “pits the White House, many Republicans and supporters of free trade against organized labor, civic groups and many lawmakers from Obama’s own party, who fear the deal will hurt workers and the environment.”

In a Monday morning call Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said the TPP text Congress is allowed to see has not been updated for some time, so even they don’t know what is in it. Saying Congress has had to rely on leaks and hasn’t seen the supposed “side agreements” at all, DeLauro asked the administration to “have the courage” to show Congress and the public the text now.

DeLauro complained that leaked drafts show U.S. negotiators negotiating hard for pharmaceutical companies, but not for the interests of American workers. “The administration has put big corporations first, workers last.”

She said rules-of-origin requirements allow less than half to be made in U.S. and TPP countries, the rest can come from countries like China. “None of us can think of a clearer mechanism for taking American jobs”

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) said, “we’ve seen the nightmare NAFTA brought to our manufacturing sector and hard-working American families; this deal is NAFTA on steroids” because this is much broader. Multinational corporations will benefit from increased drug prices and access to cheaper labor.

Rep. Dan “Rock Star” Kildee (D-Mich.) said “what’s not there is there is a lack of any enforceable currency provision. This ties American manufacturer’s hands behind their back as they try to compete. Worse, new rules of origin allow the Chinese to provide more than half the content of a car and it will be treated as domestic. Combined with no currency rules, this will have a devastating effect.”

He added, “I would ask members who voted for fast track to look at the details. When they see specific details and impact on their businesses I think they will vote no.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said, “I’m a car girl … we are only operating on early reports but already Ford and Chrysler are opposed, joining the UAW, and those companies have strongly supported previous deals.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) called TPP a “huge win for China because of currency, rules of origin; we get zero access to the Chinese market.”

On the ability to ensure even these ow rules of origin, Sherman said, “What about de facto rules? How does anyone police it? Are Chinese going to report companies that are mislabeling?”

Petitions

The Teamsters are asking people to sign this petition:” Tell Congress: Show Me the Text on Reported TPP Deal.”

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released this petition and is asking people for signatures: “Sign my petition to join our fight against the disastrous Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. We cannot afford to let this trade deal hurt consumers and cost America jobs.”

The U.S. Trade Representative office has released this summary

To Fix Our Economy We Must Start With Our Trade Deficit

Former Factory Closed (Image Michael Coghlan)

Former Factory Closed (Image Michael Coghlan)

The trade deficit is one of the biggest drains on our national economy and very few people are talking about it.  We all complain about the jobs lost as US manufacturing plants close only to reopen overseas (thanks NAFTA), but what are we doing about it.

Dave Johnson at Campaign For America’s Future put out a great article about how the trade deficit is truly hurting the American economy, and our budgets due to a lack of tax revenue.

It is vitally important to our economy to fix these gapping holes in our trade policies that allow corporations to skirt taxes and ship our jobs overseas.  If we continue down the dangerous path we are on then we will continue in this cycle of austerity from Washington that leads to more job losses and more budgets.

I encourage you to read the entire article but I have include a few key points below.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the May goods and services trade deficit was an enormous, humongous $40.9 billion, up a bit from an enormous, humongous $40.7 billion in April.

Our enormous, humongous trade deficit is a measure of how many jobs, factories, companies and industries we are losing to our pro-Wall Street trade policies. A trade deficit drains our economy of wealth, jobs and future economic opportunity.

…When you close a factory in the U.S., move the jobs and production to a low-wage, low-democracy country, and bring the same goods back to the U.S. to sell in the same stores this “increases cross-border trade.” But since this trade is going in one direction, it also increases our trade deficit, which hurts our economy. Moving the jobs to places where the workers are exploited means that a few investors and executives can pocket the difference in what is paid in wages and environmental protection costs, while impoverishing the workers and communities on all sides of the trade borders.

And to top it off, the U.S. doesn’t even make these companies pay their taxes, so we literally get nothing back for the lost jobs and wages.

…Our tax policies also encourage production to move out of the country. Companies that make profits outside the U.S. can dodge taxes by keeping the profits out of the U.S. This encourages companies to transfer production out of the U.S. and import in ways that make it appear the profit is made elsewhere.

…The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a huge trade and corporate-rights agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other countries. One example of the trade effect of this agreement (which is mostly not a trade agreement) is the competition between athletic shoe companies Nike and New Balance. Nike makes shoes outside the U.S. in countries like Vietnam. New Balance is still trying to make some of its shoes in the U.S. If TPP drops a tariff on shoes from countries like Vietnam, Nike’s profits from making things outside the U.S. will increase, putting New Balance at a competitive disadvantage that could force it to stop making shoes in the U.S.

TPP and other upcoming corporate-rights agreements were recently “fast-tracked” by the Congress – even though TPP is still secret. By fast-tracking, Congress agrees in advance not to “meddle” with the corporate-negotiated agreements, meaning that anything called a trade agreement is essentially preapproved, no matter what is in them. Congress cannot amend the agreement, can’t filibuster it, has to abide by limits to the floor debate and must pass the agreements in a limited time, which keeps the public from getting involved.

(Leo W Gerard) Sorely Needed: New Trade Vision

In a close vote last week, a majority in the U.S. House chose to continue glomming onto the same tired old broken-down trade tactics that have closed American factories, cost American jobs and caused massive trade deficits.

The majority voted to sustain for the next six years trade policies that failed American workers for the past 20. The majority abdicated Congress’ constitutional responsibility to supervise international trade. Instead, they agreed to allow presidential administrations to once again negotiate trade deals in secret, then whip those corporate-appeasing, clandestine schemes through the Congressional approval process with absolutely no amendments, no changes, no improvements.

That’s the “Fast Track” process under which Congress has averted its eyes and approved one job-killing, deficit-ballooning trade deal after another, starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. The result of that indolent, duty-shirking process since then has been 57,000 shuttered American factories and 5 million lost jobs. Now, instead of conceding failure and forging a new path on trade, the House cleared the way to destroy more American manufacturing and family-supporting jobs.

2015-06-21-1434902712-8267110-KoriSherwood.jpeg

Kori Sherwood lost her good, family-supporting job at U.S. Steel because of illegally-subsidized imports.

These backward-facing lawmakers would benefit from stepping out of lobbyist-infested D.C.  and speaking to small town manufacturing workers who lost their livelihoods because Fast Tracked free trade schemes encouraged corporations to off-shore factories.

Maybe these pro-trade deficit politicians should listen to American steel and paper and tire workers describe what happened to them and their families and their communities when Fast Tracked trade schemes pitted them against child workers and forced laborers in foreign factories.

Maybe those politicians should hear formerly middle-class workers tell of unenforced provisions in Fast Tracked free trade schemes that enable foreign manufacturers that violate international trade regulations to steal market share from American businesses.

They should, for example, pay attention to Kori Sherwood. When she got a job two years ago as a millwright at U.S. Steel’s Minntac facility in the Minnesota Iron Range, it changed her life and that of her young daughter. But in March, U.S. Steel sent layoff notices to 680 of Minntac’s 1,500 workers, citing an international glut of steel. Prices are at a 12-year low as mills in China continue to produce and ship massive amounts of steel and sell it at below market prices made possible by improper government subsidies and support.

Under international trade law, countries can prop up industry with government subsidies when the products are sold internally. Beijing may give its steel industry no-interest loans and free electricity when the rebar or pipe or I-beams are sold for construction projects in China. But international trade law forbids such subsidies when the goods are sold internationally because government aid suppresses product prices in what is supposed to be a free market. Some countries, however, routinely flout the rules. Then American companies that don’t get no-interest government loans or free electricity or other subsidies can’t compete on price.

They shut down mills and lay off workers. Unions and manufacturers are forced to pay millions to petition for import duties on the subsidized foreign goods to level the playing field. To win such a case, industry must prove financial injury and workers must suffer layoffs and lost income.

Kori Sherwood got one of U.S. Steel’s layoff notices and lost her job at Minntac on May 26. China’s violation of international trade rules dashed Sherwood’s hopes and plans. “You finally think you get your life in order – buy a truck, buy a home, and it all falls apart,” she said.

My union, the United Steelworkers (USW), has repeatedly petitioned for trade law enforcement. In too many cases, however, decisions arrive so late that factories are permanently closed and workers seriously scathed.

Fast Track-loving lawmakers should talk to American workers who once made uncoated paper, the non-shiny stuff used in copy machines. The USW and four American paper companies filed a trade case in January because tons of improperly subsidized paper from Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal was crushing American uncoated paper manufacturers.

Companies in these five countries kept their mills running and their workers employed by dumping illegally subsidized and underpriced paper into the U.S. market. These trade scofflaws bankrupted American paper mills and paper workers.

Since the dumping began in 2011, two U.S. companies that manufactured uncoated paper went out of business and a third stopped making the paper. Two firms closed two uncoated paper mills. And three others shut down four machines that produced the paper. The human cost of this: 2,500 family-supporting American jobs destroyed.

Communities suffer as well. In March 2014, International Paper permanently shuttered its 43-year-old uncoated paper mill in tiny Courtland, Ala. It was the area’s largest employer. More than 1,100 workers lost their jobs. Suddenly gone was an annual payroll of $86 million and $2.3 million in tax payments that the town, county and schools depended on every year.

Four of the uncoated paper mills applied for Trade Adjustment Assistance, a federal program that retrains workers if it can be proved that they were sacked because of international trade. All four qualified. That helped. But it did not restore good, family-supporting union manufacturing jobs.

Import-adoring lawmakers should talk to tire builders from Tuscaloosa and Gadsden Ala., Findlay, Ohio, and Salem, Va., who have watched with endless anxiety over the past decade as American manufacturers closed plants and cut production because Chinese producers dumped subsidized passenger and light truck tires into the U.S. market.

After the USW petitioned for relief, the U.S. imposed import duties on Chinese tires beginning in 2009 and imports declined significantly. American producers regained market share and invested in American factories. They recalled laid off workers and even hired new ones.

But the second the duties expired, Chinese producers resumed dumping. American companies once again cut production, reduced workers’ hours and furloughed staff.The USW petitioned for trade relief again a year ago, and the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed preliminary duties. Since then, U.S. tire companies have ramped up production and increased workers’ shifts.

In testimony earlier this month before the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking permanent duties, David Hayes, president of the USW local union at Goodyear’s tire plant in Gadsden, talked about how the waves of dumped foreign tires have denied his fellow 1,500 workers job stability as layoffs followed each import surge.

Since the preliminary duties, Goodyear has added new tire machines and hired 188 workers. But if the duties disappear, Hayes fears his plant could suffer the fate of the factory Goodyear closed in Union City in 2011. He told the trade commission that would devastate workers’ families and the state, to which the plant annually contributes $360 million in direct and indirect economic activity.

American workers and American manufacturers don’t oppose trade. They can compete on a level playing field with anyone in the world.  But the current trade regime, swept in without serious analysis on the back of Fast Track authority, has failed to provide a level playing field. America needs a new vision for trade. And to achieve that, lawmakers must slow track proposed trade deals.

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