The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is holding its biennial convention in Orlando this week. As part of that convention, there will be a rally to publicize opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The rally will take place Tuesday, August 23 at 3:30 pm beginning in the Hemisphere Ballroom of Orlandoâ€™s Dolphin Hotel.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein made the following statement when announcing the rally:
â€śPostal workers are a proud part of a global grass-roots movement in opposing this devious, corporate-backed deal which would hurt workers and the environment in 12 different countries â€” if allowed to go forward. Like NAFTA and other hard-sold multinational deals, the TPP was negotiated in secret and has very little to do with trade between nations. Itâ€™s about increasing the power of multinational corporations to dictate our future, and itâ€™s about taking away the rights of citizens and workers to advocate for a better quality of life.â€ť
â€śThe TPP is an attack on working people â€“ including U.S. postal workers. Weâ€™re rallying in Orlando to make sure politicians from both parties hear us loud and clear and weâ€™re going to head back to every zip code from Orlando with a message that the TPP needs to be blocked. Republicans and Democrats must listen to grass-roots activists across the political spectrum, vote down the TPP and get to work on an economic and environmental agenda that is fair to workers in all countries.â€ť
TPP is an agreement between 12 Pacific-region nations, but other nations like China will be able to join later. TPP is called a â€śtradeâ€ť agreement, even though most of the sections of the agreement are about things like allowing investors to sue governments for laws and regulations that infringe on their profits, granting monopolies to giant pharmaceutical companies, and â€śintellectual propertyâ€ť rights.
The agreement was negotiated and written in secrecy, largely by past, present and future representatives of corporations. It places corporate â€śrightsâ€ť above governments, as well as above the â€śrightsâ€ť of working people and the environment. For example, corporate investors can sue governments for what they consider to be violations of the agreement that hurt their profits, and the suits are judged by corporate attorneys. There is no appeal and the sovereign, established court systems of the counties in the agreement are prohibited from interfering.But labor, environmental, consumer or any other â€śstakeholderâ€ť group have no such recourse if they feel their rights are being violated.
OurFutureâ€™s June 2015 post, â€śWill TPP Kill The Post Office?â€ť, noted that then then-secret TPP could be a problem for the US Postal Service in particular. From that post:
As if we needed yet another reason for the public to see the text of TPP before Congress preapproves it with fast track, here is a question: Does the TPP contain provisions that corporations can use to force us to privatize â€śpublicâ€ť things like our Post Office, public schools, public roads etc., so they can replace them with profit-making enterprises that provide a return only to the wealthy few?
We need to see the provisions of TPP that are designed to regulate â€śstate-owned enterprisesâ€ť (SOEs) and see them now.
Now We Know
TPP is no longer secret. Now the peasants are at last begrudgingly allowed to know what is in the â€śagreement.â€ť Now we know that TPP has rules preventing governments (We the People) from â€ścompetingâ€ť with private corporations. This means that private corporations receive the return from the economy, while We the People are prohibited from just doing things for ourselves.
While continuation of the US Postal Service as presently constituted is written into TPP, the â€śtradeâ€ť agreement could prohibit We the People from deciding we want it to do things like postal banking,Â and other things we might want to do to benefit ourselves.
As the June, 2015 post noted:
Today corporations and investors consider our highways to be â€ścommercial activityâ€ť and are competing to turn such roads into private business. There is a corporate movement battling to privatize our public schools and turn those into corporate profit centers. Private companies are trying to get (and many have gotten) the right to deliver our water instead of publicly owned municipal systems. Many municipalities have already turned over garbage collection to private companies, thereby impoverishing the workforce. Would it be a surprise to find that the corporations have inserted provisions into TPP demanding privatization of the Postal Service, schools, roads and anything else the public currently runs?
Ask any conservative and they will likely tell you that anything a government does to make peopleâ€™s lives better only interferes with â€śthe market.â€ť They will tell you our public, â€śgovernmentâ€ť schools should be privatized. They will tell you that the Post Office needs to go away. They hate Amtrak, public broadcasting, the Export-Import Bank and, public transit. They certainly hate public health care. Many will even say that we shouldnâ€™t have public parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. They have even privatized prisons.
TPP Coming Up For A Rigged Vote Unless We Stop It
Back when We the People were still not allowed to know what was in TPP, a provision called â€śfast trackâ€ť Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was passed by Congress. Fast track TPA rigged the rules of Congress to grease the skids for TPP when it comes up for a vote, which looks like it will be in the â€ślame duckâ€ť session of Congress after the November elections and before the new Congress is sworn in.
It is possible to stop TPP if we can convince enough members of the House of Representatives to go on record now as opposing it. To help with this, see last weekâ€™s post,â€śThese Are Your 28 TPP House Democrat Targetsâ€ť:
President Obama is trying to get a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the â€ślame duckâ€ť session of Congress that will take place after the election. We can help stop this by getting enough Democrats on the record as opposing the TPP.
In particular, we need to get the 28 Democrats who â€“ in spite of opposition from most Democrats and hundreds of labor, consumer, LGBT, health, human rights, faith, democracy and other civil organizations â€“ voted for the â€śfast-trackâ€ť trade promotion authority (TPA) bill that â€śgreased the skidsâ€ť for the TPP by setting up rigged rules that will help TPP pass.
Now, along with all of those voters and organizations, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the rest of us need to start working on getting those 28 Democrats to oppose a vote after the election.
Call your Representative and say, â€śNo to TPP!â€ť
This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on August 22, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.
Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.