On February 1st, as part of the Intercontinental Day of Action against the TPP, Chicagoans representing labor, faith, environmental and community organizations will marched and rallied to Rep. Quigley's office to demand that he take a stand on the side of his community and oppose Fast Track.
For the last 20 years, so-called “free trade agreements” like NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO have wreaked havoc on our communities and our quality of life. In Illinois alone, we have lost over 150,000 jobs due to unfair trade policies. Not only that, but these deals grant multinational corporations immense powers, like the ability to challenge any environmental or public health regulation they want in an extrajudical trade court for the loss of “future expected profits.” Additionally, NAFTA alone created over 2 million economic refugees, and free trade deals have led to myriad human rights abuses around the globe, all while superseding every federal, state and local law our elected legislators have passed!
Now the same corporations that gave us these deals are at it again. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been in negotiations for over 4 years. It has been negotiated in secret with over 600 corporate lobbyists serving as cleared advisers. This deal encompassing 12 countries on the Pacific Rim, would dictate the laws for nearly 40% of the entire world's economy. The only things we know about what will be in the TPP are from leaks, and so far it appears poised to continue the job drain, accelerate environmental deregulation, put limits on access to medicine and even control our internet freedom.
The corporate lobbyists know that the only way they can get the TPP through Congress is to ram it through under a procedure called Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority. Fast Track means Congress can't amend a trade agreement, or even have an open debate, and only a limited time frame to read hundreds of thousands of pages before voting. That's not democracy! Amazingly, despite their rhetoric about standing up for the rights of ordinary Americans, there are a few Democratic Members of Congress who haven't committed to opposing Fast Track, including Congressman Mike Quigley, putting him at serious odds with the vast majority of his party.
“Fast Track would lead to thousands of parents losing good paying jobs,” says Robert Kurtycz, Comptroller of Workers United, CMRJB. “These are jobs with benefits that support families. This year is the 20th anniversary of NAFTA and the 50th anniversary of Lyndon B. Johnson's call for a War on Poverty. Which anniversary will our families celebrate?”
"Congressman Quigley claims to be a champion for the environment, but if he votes in favor of Fast Track he will be voting in favor of undermining every environmental protection that Illinois citizens have won for our communities”says Emily Carroll, Midwest Director for Food and Water Watch. “A vote for Trade Promotion Authority is not only anti-environment, but anti-democracy."