Thursday, July 31, 2014

Protecting Local Jobs in Trade Agreements

Ten of the twelve Illinois Congressional Democrats joined with 121 of their colleagues to call for strong Buy America preferences to be protected in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. The letter states:
We have seen that Buy American requirements have had a strong impact in creating good middle class jobs here in the United States (U.S.).  For example, manufacturing employment gains from infrastructure investment can increase by one-third if strong domestic sourcing requirements are included.  Furthermore, as a recent White House report noted, U.S. manufacturing plays an outsized role in supporting and driving American innovation, including 60% of all U.S. research and development employees, 75% of U.S. private sector research and development, and the vast majority of all patents issued in the United States.  Meanwhile, support for Buy American policies unites Americans across party lines, with recent polls showing more than 90% support.
The Illinois Procurement of Domestic Products act currently mandates that preference be given to American made products ranging from pharmaceuticals, to corn, to coal. All of these preferences which ensure domestic economic development, could be undermined under the proposed TPP chapter on procurement (Which is still secret, but the rumor is all TPP countries would be treated as though they are American companies when bidding for public contracts.):
These proposed TPP terms could result in large sums of U.S. tax dollars being offshored and invested to strengthen many other countries’ manufacturing sectors, rather than our own.  Indeed, among the beneficiaries of the proposed TPP ban on Buy American preferences would be the many Chinese state-owned-enterprises in the one-party state of Vietnam.
Moreover, as you know, procurement policy established in trade agreements cannot be later modified without consent of all signatory countries.  This would deprive Congress and U.S. state legislatures of their authority to modify procurement policies, even in the context of fundamentally changed national or international circumstances.
Signing onto the letter, which was authored for House Democrats by Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, were Reps. Rush, Kelly, Lipinski, Gutierrez, Davis, Duckworth, Schakowsky, Foster, Enyart, and Bustos. Conspicuously missing were Reps. Schneider and Quigley, who continue to be extreme outliers within their party on trade, as well as refusing to take a position favored by the majority of their constituents. You can view the whole letter here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Update: Mapping Displaced Workers in Illinois

In 2013, the state of Illinois ran a nearly $59 billion dollar trade deficit last year, including $19.5 billion just with China? That's a lot of jobs that are no longer being done locally! It's often hard to put a specific number on the jobs lost to unfair trade, however, we can get an absolute baseline picture for job loss by looking at Trade Adjustment Assistance data. Last year, were 35 certified TAA claims in the state, ranging from   These are jobs the Federal Government has certified have been displaced either by cheap imports, or moving production overseas. Click the icons on the map below to see details the Trade Adjustment Assistance claims in Illinois over the last 3 years. Unfortunately, because displaced workers have to actively file a petition for TAA or have one filed on their behalf, this represents only a small fraction of the jobs and workers that are being dislocated. We’ll be updating this map as new claims become available.


View 2014 Displaced Workers in Illinois Map in a full screen map

Saturday, February 1, 2014

COALITION OF LABOR, FAITH, ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITY ALLIES RALLY AND MARCH TO DEMAND REP. QUIGLEY OPPOSE THE FAST TRACK OF BAD TRADE DEALS

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."

Monday, December 2, 2013

EIGHT ILLINOIS DEMOCRATS SIGN UP TO OPPOSE FAST TRACK FOR THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP


Reps. Rush, Kelly, Lipinski, Gutierrez, Davis, Schakowsky, Bustos, and Enyart, joined 145 of their House Democratic colleagues today to express their opposition to a legislative maneuver known recently as Trade Promotion Authority, but more commonly referred to as Fast Track.
Fast Track means that instead of a trade agreement going through the normal legislative process, new trade agreements would not be able to be amended, debate would be limited, and the house would be forced to vote on them within 60 days of submission. A Fast Track bill would also include Congress's priorities for trade agreements, however the administration would not have to abide by them, and the priorities are not enforceable.

The members, in a letter to the president, expressed deep concern about the secrecy which has surrounded the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations. This agreement includes 11 other Pacific Rim countries and comprises, at the moment, just under 40% of the entire world economy. Much skepticism has also been expressed that under Fast Track the final TPP text, likely to be hundreds of thousands of pages long, will be able to be scrutinized carefully in only two months before Congress has to take an up or down vote.

“We need to make sure that our negotiators know that we will not, and cannot support any trade agreement that continues the outsourcing of US jobs, guts American manufacturing, or undermines consumer protections.” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky at a rally earlier this year, “We will not trade away our labor protections, our environmental regulations, or our government's ability to invest in US companies.”

Indeed, Illinois has a record of being on the losing end of these deals. The Economic Policy estimates that Illinois has lost nearly 35,000 jobs due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and nearly 115,000 jobs to China since it was granted permanent normal trade relations in 2000.
“We applaud these members standing up to the largest corporations in the world who are pushing for this horrible policy,” says Josh Wise, Executive Director of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition, a group of labor and human rights advocates, “Fast Track undermines the ability of our elected representatives to stand up for the communities that they were elected to represent. We support robust international trade, but we need to make sure that every single clause of these trade deals is in the best interest of working families in Illinois.”

Noticeably missing from the letter were Reps. Quigley, Foster, Duckworth and Schneider, seen as either being heavily influenced by trans-national corporations, or simply unwilling to oppose the president. Civil society in Illinois sincerely hopes that they will stand with American workers in the future.

The Obama administration has asked for Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and for a possible free trade agreement with the European Union. No bill has been introduced yet, but Michael Froman, the current United States Trade Representative, has asked for a bill to be passed by the end of the year.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Call Your Member of Congress Now!

ASK ILLINOIS HOUSE MEMBERS TO STAND UP FOR FAIR TRADE! 202-224-3121

With Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership looming, Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California have released a "dear colleague" letter for other members of the House of Representatives to sign on to, expressing serious concerns about the lack of Congressional consultation in trade.

"Such opportunity for input from Congress is critical as the TPP FTA will include binding obligations that touch upon a wide swath of policy matters under the authority of Congress.  Beyond traditional tariff issues, these include policies related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, competition, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, e-commerce, telecommunications and other service sector regulations." States the letter. 

We need every member of the Illinois House delegation to sign onto this letter!

The letter continues: "We are deeply committed to transforming U.S. trade policy into a tool for creating and retaining family-wage jobs in America, safeguarding the environment, maintaining consumer protection and improving the quality of life throughout the country.   We look forward to working with you to ensure that Congress and the Executive Branch are working together to meet that critical goal."

Please call your Congressperson today and ask them to sign the Delauro/Miller Letter on the TPP and Fast Track. 202-224-3121

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Join us on June 27th to find out how to fight the TPP!

PUBLIC FORUM ON THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: NAFTA ON STEROIDS
Chicago community groups will come together to educate and mobilize each other around the largest, most secretive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in U.S. history: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  

WHO:           The Illinois Fair Trade Coalition, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America, Witness For Peace, Chicago Fair Trade, and other community and labor organizations.
WHEN:                Thursday, June 27 at 7:00 pm 
WHERE:              Wellington Ave UCC, 615 W. Wellington Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
                             
WHAT:  At this very moment, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP)—a trade agreement that includes 40% of the world’s market and stands to grow even bigger, affecting the health and welfare of billions of people worldwide—is being negotiated behind closed doors. While nearly 600 corporate lobbyists have access to the text, the press, the public, and until recently even members of the US Congress have been kept in the dark.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the largest free trade agreement that the United States has ever undertaken. Numerous letters have been sent to the Obama Administration’s US Trade Representative, calling for transparency and Congressional oversight of the FTA’s negotiation, but secrecy continues to pervade every level of the process. The agreement could dramatically alter food safety standards, internet freedoms, financial regulations, workers rights, and the costs of medicines worldwide. Past FTAs have proven to empower corporations as they gain the right to sue sovereign governments and collect tax-payer dollars for “lost profits” when their business ventures become subject to public scrutiny and regulation for the sake of environmental and civic protection .
Members of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition and partner organizations will be educating each other about how the TPP will affect labor standards, the environment, and immigration/displacement. We will mobilize each other to take civic action through various vehicles to bring the TPP out of the shadows, into the public discourse, and to the doors of our legislators.
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The Illinois Fair Trade Coalition was formed in January of 2013 to be a voice for the people of Illinois in the global economy and to raise serious concerns about the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  We aim to be the focal point in Illinois for ensuring that globalization, and specifically international trade policy, be conducted in a way that reflects our values of justice, fairness, sustainability, community, and a high quality of life. We are made up of labor, faith, farm, environmental, and human rights organizations, who recognize that the far reaching nature of trade policy requires us to stand in solidarity to achieve our goals. For more information, visit iltrade.org.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mapping Job Loss to Outsourcing in Illinois

Did you know the state of Illinois ran a nearly $59 billion dollar trade deficit last year, including $28 billion just with China? That's a lot of jobs that are no longer being done locally! It's often hard to put a specific number on the jobs lost to unfair trade, however, we can get an absolute baseline picture for job loss by looking at Trade Adjustment Assistance data. These are jobs the Federal Government has certified have been displaced either by cheap imports, or moving production overseas. Click the icons on the map below to see details the Trade Adjustment Assistance claims in Illinois over the last 3 years. Unfortunately, because displaced workers have to actively file a petition for TAA or have one filed on their behalf, this represents only a small fraction of the jobs and workers that are being dislocated. We’ll be updating this map as new claims become available.

View Illinois TAA Claims in a full screen map