• UAW President Criticizes White House On Trade

    United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams detailed Wednesday why he hates trade promotion authority the White House is pushing.

    “Fast track trade promotion, also known as TPA, means fewer jobs, lower wages and a declining middle class, a stark contrast to what the country needs and what hard-working families deserve,” Williams detailed in a column for Detroit News.

    Though labor unions and the White House agree on many policy areas, unions have led the way in opposing the idea of granting the president trade promotion authority (TPA). Also known as fast-track, if granted by Congress it would allow the president to make trade deals with other countries without them being amended or filibustered.

    “If TPA passes, instead of fully weighing the merits of an agreement and proposing changes, Congress would eliminate its own ability to strike a better deal for the American people,” Williams continued. “Fast track will make it easier to send American jobs overseas, and will undermine our wages by forcing Americans to potentially compete with working people in other countries who make as little as 56 cents an hour.”

    Williams explained that any trade deal must create a level playing field for countries involved and protect American workers and families. Similar sentiments were expressed by other labor leaders, particularly AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who has helped to lead the effort to oppose TPA.

    At the center of the controversy is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which organized labor has expressed great concern over. The AFL-CIO argued that for any trade deal to be fair, it must be transparent, agreed upon by Congress before negotiations, include specific objectives for each trade partner, include an effective check on the executive branch and address shortcomings in current trade enforcement. The union argues TPP with the backing of fast-track authority undermines these needs.

    The AFL-CIO even went as far as to threaten lawmakers with a political contributions freeze if they supported fast-track. Democrats have the most to lose by a political contribution freeze. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC alone spent $1.1 million dollars in support of Democrats during the 2014 elections while also spending $1 million opposing Republicans.

    Though the AFL-CIO has led the way in opposing current trade deals, other unions have also made clear their firm opposition.

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