Replace NAFTA

by Tom Broderick

The people united will never be defeated! Good chant, but also a clear reflection of the defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Negotiated in secret by hundreds of corporate advisers it went down in flames thanks to the power of the people. The TPP threatened environmental laws, health and safety regulations and public interest policies. The TPP sought to limit food safety inspections on imported foods. Countries that signed the agreement could simply declare that their food safety inspections were on par with ours. The TPP would have gutted Buy American / Buy Local procurement policies which keeps our tax dollars invested in our communities. The TPP would have expanded corporate power with special investor rights and allowed tribunals of corporate lawyers to adjudicate lawsuits brought by trans-national corporations against U.S. taxpayers. These tribunals are known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Complaints would be filed and settled completely outside the U.S. judicial system and would not be subject to appeal.

Chicago DSA pushed hard to defeat the TPP. Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein and Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump came out loud and strong against the TPP. With pressure from Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was dragged into the TPP fray more or less against her will, finally declaring she was against it. Of the four major candidates, only the Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson supported signing the agreement.

As a candidate, the donald pledged he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to make it “much better” for working Americans. NAFTA is a trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The donald said “NAFTA has been a catastrophe for our country; it’s been a catastrophe for our workers and our jobs and companies.” The White House web site said the donald “will withdraw from NAFTA if the U.S. doesn’t get a better deal.” This is something he could do. He could simply pull the United States out of NAFTA.

Chicago DSA and West Suburban Illinois DSA are working with Public Citizen, gathering post cards calling on the donald to replace NAFTA. The cards demand that the donald “replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a deal benefiting working people in all three countries, not just the multinational corporations. This means ending the NAFTA investor protections and the ban on Buy American/Buy Local procurement that promote job-offshoring, removing investor-state dispute settlement, and requiring that food imports meet U.S. safety rules. A new deal must only go into effect if countries enact and enforce strong labor, wage and environmental standards. Nothing to make NAFTA even worse, like monopoly protections for Big Pharma can be included.”

Although claiming he intended to “drain the swamp,” the donald has appointed very dubious characters to the Departments of Commerce and Trade as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer is referred to as a skeptic of free trade deals, but represented a business controlled by the Chinese government in a lawsuit brought against the U.S. taxpayers in 1991. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, was described by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) as “practically a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat who has no interest in anyone but himself.” As a billionaire investor in a car parts company, he sent U.S. jobs to Mexico, taking advantage of NAFTA rules. He is also an investor in a Chinese government backed company.

Two former Goldman Sachs big wigs in the donald’s administration are Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn. Mnuchin was “part of the cadre of corporate raiders that brought our economy to its knees” according to Senator Scott Menendez (D. NJ) during Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing. Senator Ron Wyden (D. OR) referred to Mnuchin as “the foreclosure king” during the same hearing. Former President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn has suggested a very watered down reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act might be appropriate. According to The American Prospect, Cohn’s version would allow for increased banking deregulation. Something near and dear to any Goldman Sachs bankster heart. Scott Pruitt, a self described “leading advocate aginst the EPA’s activist agenda” is now heading that Agency He has repeatedly sued the EPA.

Although yet to be confirmed, the donald’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture is Sunny Perdue. Before he was elected Governor of Georgia, he made a great deal of money peddling fertilizer. As Governor of Georgia he signed a bill blocking local communities from enacting regulations against animal cruelty, for worker safety and against pollution at factory farms in Georgia. Georgia is the home of many large industrial farms. Quite a mash-up of the pro-investment moneybag folk.

After the Congressional recess, the donald and his pack of pirates are likely to begin the process of renegotiating NAFTA. That would begin with a letter notifying the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee stating that the donald wants to begin renegotiating NAFTA. Both committees would have to agree to renegotiation. It will be our responsibility to make trouble for the well-heeled one-percenters who don’t give a rat’s ass for democracy, workers’ rights, and the health of people and planet. No top secret negotiations allowed. Let the leaks spring forth.


More from DSA:

Not This NAFTA (1993)

Renegotiate NAFTA (2008)

Fair Trade Not Free Trade from the New Ground archives

Wage Theft Must End

by Tom Broderick

From 2013 through 2016, the Chicago City Council enacted three new employment laws. In 2013, the Wage Theft Ordinance was passed. The Minimum Wage Ordinance was passed in 2015 and in 2016, the Council enacted the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.

Who is minding the store on this legislation? In Chicago, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) is supposed to protect workers’ rights. The Department’s web site states: “The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection licenses, regulates and empowers Chicago businesses to grow and succeed as well as, receives and processes consumer complaints.”

Faith – Labor – Action is the motto of ARISE Chicago. The group’s mission is to end workplace abuse. ARISE Chicago announced their campaign to have the City of Chicago create a Chicago Office of Labor Standards (COoLS) at a press conference at Roosevelt University on Thursday, February 23rd. It appears that ARISE is calling for the COoLS to be under the Dept. of BACP and take responsibility for enforcing Chicago’s employment laws.

Data obtained by The Chicago Reporter through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that between July, 2015, when the Chicago minimum wage law took effect, and December, 2016, the Dept. of BACP received 454 complaints about violations regarding the minimum wage. Of those, 112 complaints led to investigations, just shy of 25%. Workers are required to submit affidavits attesting to violations. The Dept. of BACP forwards a copy of the complaint and the affidavit to the employer: A recipe for employer retaliation against the worker.

While 51 workers recovered wages totaling $82,000 according to The Chicago Reporter, not a single fine was assessed to any Chicago business, even though the law states that businesses shall be subject to fines of $500 to $1,000 per day. Nor has the business license been revoked for any company found in violation of the ordinance: Not a successful track record of enforcement.

In her opening remarks, Reverend C. J. Hawking (Executive Director of ARISE Chicago) welcomed us as a “congregation of believers.” She said we gathered in the spirit of Jane Addams (who along with Ellen Gates Starr opened the settlement house known as Hull House for arriving European immigrants in 1889) and Frances Perkins, the first woman appointed to head any U. S. Cabinet position – the Department of Labor. Rev. Hawking continued “We rise up against the current political climate of hostility toward workers and unions.”

She was followed by Maria Leon, a restaurant worker who spoke of how her former employer regularly refused to disperse tips that had been added to restaurant bills that were paid with a credit card. After repeatedly asking for the tips that restaurant patrons had charged, she was fired. Tips, whether paid in cash or charged have been earned by the worker. Tips are not donations to the bottom line of those who manage or own restaurants. The denial of earned tips is wage theft and the firing is illegal.

Janice Fine, PhD, Professor of Labor Studies at Rutgers University took to the podium and said that municipalities, large and small, have established Offices of Labor Standards with enforcement capabilities. She stated that Chicago could join San Francisco, Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas in working to shore up workers’ rights. As a major center for the economy in the mid-west Chicago could lead the way in regional support for promoting and enhancing the rights of workers.

Local enforcement of existing laws/policies must be handled by local governmental agencies working in collaboration with worker centers. Workers are often hesitant to go to governmental agencies for fear of being reported to their employers. Workers may not even understand that they have rights as workers. Worker centers are well known to low-wage workers. These centers provide support to workers and that builds trust among the workers and with the centers. The centers can be a bridge between the workers and the governmental agency tasked with enforcement.

According to Dr. Fine, workers will know which industries or segments of industries regularly violate the rights of workers: wage theft, including “working off the clock,” overtime pay, minimum wage payment and the theft of tips as well as accrued sick leave pay violations. Industries with a record of violations could be taxed a percentage of profit to finance the Office of Labor Standards.

According to a University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) report published in 2009 (The Breakdown of Workplace Protections in the Low-Wage Labor Market), nearly half of the sampled low-wage workers experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week. The average worker lost $50 out of their weekly earnings of $322. That’s a 16% loss in earnings. The report extrapolated that low-wage workers in Chicago and suburban Cook County lose more than $7.3 million per week as a result of employment and labor law violations. Not only do the workers lose, but the taxing bodies also lose. Wage theft cheats workers, families and communities.

Four members of the Chicago City Council took part in the press conference. Council member Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) said he is in fear of the current federal administration. He is concerned that at the federal level as well as the state level, there is no concern for the rights of every day working people. The creation of a Chicago Office of Labor Standards is about decency and human rights. The Office must have enforcement capabilities to protect and safeguard justice for the working people of Chicago.

Ameya Pawar has announced his candidacy to become the next Governor of Illinois. Pawar is not just another rich white guy running for re-election or election to the Governorship of Illinois, he has staked out a clear position as to which side he is on when it comes to the 99%.

Council member George Cardenas (12th Ward) was introduced as Chair of the Latino caucus. He said he is product of his neighborhood and that his family suffered workplace problems. “The Latino community is hard hit by wage theft.” Cardenas called for establishing a regulatory framework to protect workers.

Council member Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35th Ward) was introduced as a member of the Latino and the Progressive caucuses. He added “and a proud member of the Gay and Lesbian caucus.” He spoke of being approached by ARISE Chicago to help a worker facing wage theft in his ward. “We need stronger citywide enforcement, connected to community groups on the ground . . . Chicago won’t have the first Office of Labor Standards, but working with experts, groups on the ground and workers, we can have the best Office of Labor Standards.” Carlos Rosa will be the keynote speaker at the Chicago DSA Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner on Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Hotel.

Council member John Arena (45th Ward) was also introduced as a member of the Progressive caucus. Along with Rev. Hawking and Adam Kader who directs the ARISE Chicago Worker Center Program, Arena visited with some of the staff in the Seattle Office of Labor Standards to understand how their program operated. He said “it’s important to bake in” enforcement mechanisms covering workers under Chicago’s employment laws. He said he met with Samantha Fields, Commissioner of the Dept. of BACP and feels she is open to understanding what the COoLS would do.

Robert Reiter is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL). He said that the labor movement is greater than organized labor and that local protection for worker standards is necessary. On a national level, the current administration is looking to roll back labor standards, so local offices like the proposed Chicago COoLS would be critical in protecting workers. If employers are allowed to steal workers wages, “we need a way to get that money back.” The City Council has passed important employment laws. The next logical step is to create a Chicago Office of Labor Standards.”

The final speaker was Sophia Zaman, the Executive Director of Raise the Floor Alliance, a collaborative effort to amplify the voice of workers. Raise the Floor Alliance was launched in December, 2015. The founding members are ARISE Chicago, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Chicago Community & Worker Rights, Chicago Workers Collaborative, Latino Union of Chicago, Restaurant Opportunities Center, Warehouse Workers for Justice and Workers Center for Racial Justice. Ms. Zaman indicated Raise The Floor Alliance would be in a strong position to bridge the gap between workers and the Chicago Office of Labor Standards.

What can Chicago DSA do to promote the creation of a robust Chicago Office of Labor Standards? If you live in Chicago, contact your elected city council member. Tell them that labor laws recently passed by the Chicago City Council need to be vigorously enforced. Advise them that workplace violations will continue unless the city creates a strong Chicago Office of Labor Standards that is fully funded and dedicated to enforcing Chicago’s employment laws.

Be the Change Congress Needs

by Tom Broderick
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) will be conducting an Advocacy Training in Oak Park. This training will be free of charge. It will be conducted by Maiya Zwerling, National Field Organizer for FCNL.

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM start and 9:30 PM end
Location: Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60302
RSVP: David Kelm 708.975.9300
For more information CLICK HERE or call Tom at 708.386.6007.

FCNL is a national Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest group that works to empower people like you and me to influence our national legislators (Representatives and Senators).

Person to person meetings with our elected officials and their staff are the most effective way to influence policy decisions. We all need to become more effective in influencing the policy decisions of our elected officials.

Time to hone our effective selves and move our elected officials to follow our lead.

The Arresting Harry Partch

by Tom Broderick

While hanging out at the home of Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay some months back, Peg said something about passing by a music room during her college days and hearing strange sounds. She stopped in and found out that someone named Harry Partch was working on his musical compositions on weird looking musical instruments.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” I exclaimed. “Never among my political comrades would I have expected to hear anyone mention the name Harry Partch.” Peg jumped up and produced an L.P. of Partch’s work. Partch was born in 1901 and died in 1974. During the 1930 Depression era, Partch was riding the rails along the west coast and picking fruit: An itinerant. A hobo. He was also occasionally employed by the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.).

In 1943 he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and that launched his career in musical composition and reluctantly on the creation of musical instruments. His early works were essentially spoken or intoned voices combined with the sounds generated by his musical instruments, which were generally percussive in nature. Partch gave his instruments names like Omicron Belly Drum, Harmonic Cannon III, New Kithara I and Cloud-Chamber Bowls. The Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited some of them in 1968.

I first ran across Partch’s music on a CD released by the Kronos Quartet called HOWL, U.S.A. This CD has four compositions, all with a political bent. The first is Sing Sing: J. Edgar Hoover, composed by Michael Daugherty with sampling of words by J. Edgar Hoover, including the line “We are as close to you as your telephone” menacingly repeated throughout the composition and accompanied by a ringing telephone. Next is Partch’s Barstow: Eight Hitchhikers’ Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California. This composition was arranged and voiced by Ben Johnston, who had worked with Partch. The inscriptions of eight hitchhikers are spoken and sung to the music provided by the Kronos String Quartet.

Cold War Suite from How It Happens (The Voice of I.F. Stone) was composed by Scott Johnson. This has the voice and sampled voice of I.F. Stone taken from radio commentary and a lecture given by him that was broadcast by National Public Radio. The fourth composer on the disk is Lee Hyla with a reading of the text of Howl, performed by Allen Ginsberg. The CD, which was recorded in 1995 is still available and well worth obtaining for its creative use of music and historical texts. The cover photo is by Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s called American Flag and is a frayed American flag with the sun setting (rising?) behind it.

So back to Harry Partch. After listening to the CD released by the Kronos Quartet, I wanted to find out more about Harry Partch. A collection of three compact disks were released by Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI). Volume 2 has the Barstow track on it, but the instruments were the ones fashioned by Partch: Surrogate Kithara, Chromelodon I, Diamond Marimba and Boo. In addition there are three other compositions that involve singing or intoned speaking voices: U.S. Highball – A Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip; San Francisco – A Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Foggy Night in the Twenties and The Letter. These last three are grouped together under the title The Wayward.

Although created and manipulated by Partch, what these works of art bring to my mind is Studs Terkel and his interviews. The voices from Partch’s compositions have the feel of real folk. There’s a legitimacy to the stories. U.S. Highball includes advice and reminisces about riding the rails. San Francisco has sounds of two newsboys hawking their papers. Newsboys? Hawking their papers? No longer in this country. The Letter is subtitled “A Depression Message from a Hobo Friend.” It features Partch speaking/intoning the text from a letter he received from Pablo about his recent experiences and the need to get back on the road posthaste. These works were all written in the early 1940s. U.S. Highball and San Francisco were recorded in 1958. The Letter was recorded in 1972 and Barstow was recorded in 1982.

Another wanderer appears in Partch’s Ulysses At The Edge, composed in 1955. It’s found on Volume I of the CRI disks and was recorded in 1958. This fairly short work includes voice, baritone saxophone, alto saxophone and three of Partch’s instruments: Bamboo Marimba, Cloud-Chamber Bowls and Diamond Marimba. It was revised later, substituting a trumpet for the alto sax. The very few spoken words that come near the end of the piece are “So you say that your name is Ulysses. That you’re wandering around the world. Tell me sir, have you ever been arrested before?”

CDSA’s Anti-TPP Campaign

by Tom Broderick

Chicago DSA printed post cards urging our elected federal representatives to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We asked folk to sign them on the spot so that we could hold them for a later delivery to these representatives. There were cases where the signer was from out of state. Those we just stamped and mailed.

Over the summer, we gathered these signatures at various farmers’ markets and events like The People’s Summit at McCormick Place. A vast majority of the cards were signed by folk from the Chicago area. As the gathering process tapered off, several comrades made appointments to drop the cards at the various legislative offices in the area. With each delivery of cards, we included a sheet of quotes stating opposition to the TPP from groups as varied as the CATO Institute and Physicians Without Borders. I’d like to thank those who agreed to deliver the cards:

• Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay delivered cards to the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin, where they were accepted without comment.

• Hilda Schlatter and Paul Sakol delivered the cards to the office of Senator Mark Kirk, where they were accepted with scant response.

• Jacqueline P. Kirley and Charles Nissim-Sabat agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Bobby Rush (1st CD), where they were accepted, again without comment.

• I was unable to find any DSA member in Rep. Robin Kelly’s district (2nd CD) to make the delivery, so we bundled them together with the list of oppositional quotes and mailed them to her office.

• Cards for Rep. William Lipinski (3rd CD) were mailed to his office as well. Rep. Lipinski is a leader in the fight against the TPP.

• Sheilah Garland and Alec Hudson agreed to deliver cards to the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (4th CD). This office also refused to have a conversation, saying they don’t meet with constituents on issues like the TPP.

• Lisa Wallis and Bill Bianchi agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (5th CD). Rep. Quigley is the only Democrat from Illinois in the U.S. House who has consistently stated support for the TPP. Upon receipt of the cards, Mary Ann Levar stated that the Congressman was “listening carefully to what his constituents were saying on this issue.”

• Gary Harper and Alex Franklin met with a staff member of Rep. Peter Roskam (6th CD) at his office. The cards and oppositional quote sheet were accepted without comment.

• I met with Ira Cohen from Rep. Danny K. Davis’ (7th CD) office. Cohen said the Congressman always appreciates it when constituents do the kind of community outreach that our post card project entailed. He said that Rep. Davis is under pressure to vote in favor of the TPP, but Cohen had no indication that he was going to succumb.

• The post cards for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (8th CD) were mailed to her office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Susan E. Hirsch and Ian Hartman met with an aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (9th CD), who is another leader from Illinois in the fight against the TPP. The aide was pleased to hear that our post card effort was city-wide and affirmed Rep. Schakowsky’s commitment to vote against the TPP.

• The post cards for Rep. Bob Dold (10th CD) were mailed to his office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Nancy Tuggle, Roger McReynolds and Patricia McReynolds delivered the material to the office of Rep. Bill Foster (11th CD). They were told that the cards would be forwarded to the DC office.

• Vince Hardt along with Alison Squires and Lyndon Squires met with an aide to Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th CD). The aide stated that Rep. Hultgren has indicated his opposition to the TPP in various public appearances. In an article in the Northwest Herald, Rep. Hultgren is quoted saying “he doesn’t foresee the issue being addressed or voted on, or being passed, during the lame duck session.” I believe this makes Rep. Hultgren the second Illinois Republican in Congress to oppose the TPP. He joins Rep. Mike Bost (12th CD)

• Post cards for Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th CD) were mailed to his office, with the oppositional quote sheet.

Chicago DSA was a member of a coalition of groups that organized Chicago demonstrations as part of the National Day of Action Against the TPP. This was aimed specifically at Rep. Quigley, and with the election of The Donald, modified to encourage the growth of a spine.

It appears that our work, along with the work of many others and the election of The Donald, has killed the passing of the TPP during the lame duck session. This according to folk connected to the White House, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. However, the TPP is not finished. We need to keep our focus on this undemocratic deal and the others that are in the works and stop them cold: democratic trade deals, not secret trade deals.

Anti-TPP Demonstration
Which side are you on, Congressman Quigley? 11/17/2016 Anti-TPP Demo, cosponsored by Chicago DSA.

Beware the TPP: It Ain’t Dead Yet!

by Tom Broderick

It’s important to remember that President Barack Obama declared the negotiating process for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “top secret.” This forbade our elected federal representatives from discussing any part of the TPP with their staff or with those of us who elected them to office. They couldn’t even consult with anyone for clarity on the ramifications of the TPP.

At the same time, under the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Trade Representative appointed several hundred members from trans-national corporations to shape the TPP. They served on Trade Advisory Committees (TACs). These appointees were also sworn to secrecy, signing non-disclosure agreements. But these corporatists didn’t want anyone to know what was going on behind closed doors: codifying corporate power.

The way the TACs were set up is revealing. There are sixteen Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) and one committee to represent the public interest (Public Interest TAC). The Public Interest Committee includes members from labor, public policy health groups, environmental organizations and human rights advocacy groups. All combined in one committee. Evidence of the power of the ITACs to subvert democracy.

The ITACs crafted enforceable laws favoring corporations. The Public Interest TAC was essentially limited to providing guidelines with few enforcement mechanisms. The Obama administration gave the ITACs what they wanted and the deal was negotiated by and for the neoliberal order. The negotiations received “top secret” classification so that the public could be screwed. We don’t want guidelines for negotiations. We want the public to become the centerpiece of a different kind of trade deal ~ one where people and planet come first.

President Obama informed Congress that he plans to push for passage of the TPP before the end of this year. He hasn’t done so yet because he lacks confidence that he has the votes necessary to succeed. Expect Obama to ramp up pressure on the Democrats. The House and Senate are currently in Republican hands and their leadership favors passage. The trans-national corporations that have so much to gain are also pressuring and/or buying off our elected officials. We must push back and push back hard between now and the end of the year.

For various reasons, presidential candidates from the Green, Democratic and Republican parties have taken public stands against the TPP. The Libertarian candidate supports the TPP. The CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank created by the Charles Koch Foundation opposes the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) portion of the TPP. ISDS allows foreign corporations to directly sue the United States Government (tax payers) over what the corporations consider interference with their rights to profit. These suits would bypass the U.S. judicial system and be tried before a panel of three pro-free traders. In a report issued by the CATO Institute, Daniel J. Ikerson wrote “ISDS is ripe for exploitation by creative lawyers.”

While I’m happy that some presidential candidates publicly oppose the TPP, some of their reasoning is wrongheaded. Socialists are internationalists and support workers’ rights around the globe. We oppose pitting one group of workers against another. When grounded in nationalism, racism or sexism, international trade agreements must be defeated. In this country we have to derail any “America First” xenophobia. “America First” is code for corporate supremacy.

Also let’s be clear, when it comes to planet Earth, there is no Plan(et) B. International trade deals must confront climate change. We have to stop spitting in the soup we all need for nourishment. Neoliberalism and secretive corporate deals like the TPP are plagues. Popular resistance is key to changing the focus of international trade. We’re seeing this turn the tide against the TPP. Public pressure in Europe also threatens the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TTIP is being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

The French Trade Minister called for an end to the negotiations, saying “France no longer politically supports these negotiations.” Germany’s Economy Minister called the talks “de facto dead.” Upcoming elections in France and Germany have made the TTIP a politically charged issue. Britain’s plans to exit the EU also roils the water as Britain is a strong supporter of the TTIP. Whether or not the TTP and the TTIP fail, there is an even larger threat being secretly negotiated: the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) which involves 50 countries and 70% of the world economy. It will allow trans-national corporations to do their worst to privatize services from health to water to finance to education. If something can be privatized it will be.

Chicago DSA has been fighting the TPP for quite a while. Victory is within reach. President Obama and the corporations that shaped the TPP will likely get their only opportunity to pass the TPP after the November election. That’s a small window and we can keep it shut.

In August, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan declared that he has no interest in bringing up a vote on the TPP unless he feels the votes for passage are there. In July, Illinois Republican Mike Bost said he now opposes the TPP, the first Illinois Republican Congressman to take that position. Of course we also have one Illinois Democratic sycophant in Congress who supports passage of the TPP: Mike Quigley.

Earlier this year, Chicago DSA began collecting constituent post cards telling our elected officials to vote against the TPP should it come to the floor. We plan to have Chicago DSA comrades deliver the cards to the offices of our two Senators and the offices of our various Representatives soon after Labor Day.

What can you do to stop the TPP? Call your Senators and your Representative in Congress and tell them you want them to take a public stand opposing the TPP. You can call them in their DC office and in their district office. Alternate weekly between the offices should you be so inclined. If you want to limit your calls, then contact your Representative as you’ll probably have more influence with her or him. Honest trade deals must embrace human rights and preserve our planet. Honest trade deals must be negotiated in public.


Industry Trade Advisory Committees

  • Aerospace Equipment;
  • Automotive Equipment and Capital Goods;
  • Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health Science Products and Services;
  • Consumer Goods;
  • Distribution Services;
  • Energy and Energy Services;
  • Forest Products;
  • Information and Communications Technologies, Services, and Electronic Commerce;
  • Building Materials, Construction and Nonferrous Metals;
  • Services and Finance Industries;
  • Small and Minority Business;
  • Steel;
  • Textiles and Clothing;
  • Customs Matters and Trade Facilitation;
  • Intellectual Property Rights;
  • Standards and Technical Trade Barriers.

 

Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership

by Tom Broderick

There are plenty of reasons to oppose passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the TPP will facilitate large corporations in closing down jobs in the United States and off-shoring them to countries with lower labor costs and/or fewer regulations. This will result in more income inequality in the U.S. and greater corporate power globally.

The TPP will increase the importation of food into the U.S. while decreasing safety inspection. The governments of the other eleven countries included in the agreement would be allowed to declare the food safety inspection process of their countries the equivalent of ours. These eleven other countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Nothing personal, but I’d feel safer if food inspection was carried out by U.S. trained food inspectors responsible to our populace.

Large pharmaceutical corporations will be granted new monopoly rights and patent extensions to keep lower cost generic drugs off the market. This will lead to higher priced medicines needed to save lives.

Our federal government has a “Buy American” policy that calls for U.S. tax dollars to be spent, where possible, at U.S. based companies that produce goods or provide services. This means that we are investing in the people of the United States, simply a smart practice. The TPP calls for an end to this, and that is a recipe for an economic system that grossly favors return on corporate investment over the common good.

Big investment firms want to roll back Wall Street reforms that seek to impose regulations on large banks. These Wall Street banksters want to be able to engage in high risk gambling that puts Main Street in jeopardy. Why wouldn’t they? Being too big to fail means everyday tax payers will be expected to bail them out again.

Perhaps the most insidious provision is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). Foreign corporations will be able to by-pass our judicial system and directly sue the U.S. government before tribunals overseen by private/corporate lawyers acting as judge and jury. The tribunals could compel our government to hand over tax dollars to corporations claiming loss of revenue due to regulations that cover issues ranging from a clean environment to public health to public interest policies.

According to Global Trade Watch, the TPP would “newly empower more than 1,000 additional corporations in TPP countries, which own more than 9,200 additional subsidiaries in the United States, to launch investor-state cases against the U.S. government.” Such cases would never appear before our judicial system.

Falsely called a trade agreement, of the thirty chapters in the TPP, only six deal with traditional trade issues like tariffs and duties The agreement was crafted behind closed doors with the assistance of 500 “official” U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests. The public and our elected officials were kept in the dark. The TPP can only be enacted by our elected Congressional Representatives. We can stop this corporate power grab with public pressure.

Below are the names and local phone numbers of the U.S. Representatives from Illinois. Find your representative, call their office and tell whoever answers the phone that you want to speak to someone about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tell that person that you oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership and want your Congress person to represent your voice when and if the vote comes to the floor.

Rep. Bobby Rush, Democrat, 1st Congressional District, Chicago office: 773 224 6500.

Rep. Robin Kelly, Democrat, 2nd CD, Matteson office: 708 679 0078.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, Democrat, 3rd CD, Chicago office: 773 948 6223.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Democrat, 4th CD, Chicago office: 773 342 0774.

Rep. Mike Quigley(1), Democrat, 5th CD, Chicago office: 773 267 5926.

Rep. Peter J. Roskam, Republican, 6th CD, West Chicago office: 630 232 0006.

Rep. Danny K. Davis, Democrat, 7th CD, Chicago office: 773 533 7520.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth(2), Democrat, 8th CD, Schaumburg office: 847 413 1959.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Democrat, 9th CD, Chicago office: 773 506 7100.

Rep. Bob Dold, Republican, 10th CD, Lincolnshire office: 847 793 8400.

Rep. Bill Foster, Democrat, 11th CD, Aurora office: 630 585 7672.

Rep. Mike Bost, Republican, 12th CD, Carbondale office: 618 457 5787.

Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican, 13th CD, Champaign office: 217 403 4690.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, Republican, 14th CD, Compton Hills office: 630 584 2734.

Rep. John Shimkus, Republican, 15th CD, Danville office, 217 446 0664.

Rep. Adam Kinziner, Republican, 16th CD, Ottawa office: 815 431 9271.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, Democrat, 17th CD, Peoria office: 309 966 1813.

Rep. Darin Lahood, Republican, 18th CD, Peoria office: 309 671 7027.

Also call your two U.S. Senators. Follow the same steps as outlined when calling your Representative.

Sen. Richard Durbin, Democrat, Chicago office: 312 353 4952.

Sen. Mark Kirk, Republican, Chicago office: 312 886 3506.

If you don’t know who your Representative is, CLICK HERE.

(1) Rep. Mike Quigley is the only Illinois Democrat to vote in support of Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track), which was a procedural vote to allow only an up or down vote on the TPP. He joined all the Illinois Republicans with his vote. He also supports passage of the TPP. And for what it’s worth, his father was a union worker whom he credits for helping put Mike through college. Good wages?

(2) Rep. Tammy Duckworth is running for the U.S. Senate. If successful in the primary, she will face Sen. Mark Kirk. When talking with Rep. Duckworth’s office, mention that you’d like her to vote against the TPP whether she is in the House or the Senate. And perhaps wish her well in her Senate race.