The 114th U.S. Congressional session is over and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is officially dead. This victory comes despite it being a signature effort of the White House and Republican-controlled Congress, supported by business lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The TPP was killed because workers stood up and fought back,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “It was very impressive that every labor union came together to fight this rotten trade deal designed to benefit the multinational corporations and big banks at the expense of workers everywhere.”
The “free trade” agreement was with 12 countries along the Pacific Rim, including Canada, Japan and Vietnam, and was intended to reduce restrictions on trade. The deal was aimed at helping multinational corporations outsource even more jobs to low-wage countries. It would have accelerated the global ‘race to the bottom’ in wages and benefits for working people.
Specifically for APWU members, the TPP would have opened the doors for the U.S. Postal Service to be permanently outsourced and privatized. If passed, it would have eliminated postal jobs and lowered wages.
There were several articles in the deal that targeted postal services. They were included at the request of the USPS’s private competitors, including UPS and FedEx. One specifically “direct[ed] targets on how postal systems are permitted to operate.” Another provision was included “to address the unique challenges private suppliers face[d] when competing with national postal entities in express delivery.”
Millions ‘Stood Up and Fought Back’
The Anti-TPP movement was composed of not just union members, but also human rights, health care, and environmental activists. All campaigned together to put public pressure on Congress to stop it.
With the support of workers and activists across the country, Senator Bernie Sanders made the issue a key part of his presidential campaign. Soon all Democratic and some Republican candidates were declaring themselves against the trade deal.
After the primary season was over, public pressure did not let up. On August 23, 2016, the APWU lead an Anti-TPP rally in Orlando, FL. The APWU also participated with almost 90 organizations in a National Call-in Day to stop a vote on the TPP.
The candidates from both major political parties, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, said they were against it. It was clear the majority of voters did not want it to pass. This led to the TPP’s swift death after the 2016 election.
New Trade Agreements on the Horizon
“The struggle is not over,” warned Dimondstein. “There are proposed trade agreements right now being discussed and negotiated, like TiSA [Trade in Services Agreement] and TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Invest-ment Partnership], which could end up being as bad for workers as the TPP.
“We will continue to watch these deals as they develop,” Dimondstein continued. “If they threaten the rights of workers or the public Postal Service, we will be in the streets opposing them, just like we did with the TPP.”