The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a massive “free trade” agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations. Recently signed, it cannot go into effect unless Congress approves. The pact would make it easier for corporations to offshore more American jobs and push down our wages. It would give big drug firms new rights to raise medicine prices, and it would flood us with unsafe imported food.
TPP proponents claim it would benefit our region, creating 1 million Californian jobs. Seriously? (“California should capitalize on global trade with TPP”; Forum, April 17)
The Obama administration received a four-Pinocchio rating from The Washington Post when it claimed that the TPP would help support 650,000 jobs nationwide. California already has lost more than 417,000 manufacturing jobs since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. And it’s not just manufacturing jobs. California’s $403 million trade surplus with NAFTA nations flipped to a $187 million deficit after the pact.
More than 172,000 specific California jobs have been certified under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program as lost to offshoring or imports, which significantly undercounts jobs because the program only covers a subset of jobs lost to trade. Included are 810 Campbell Soup employees hit by the 2012 Sacramento plant shutdown when production was moved to Malaysia and Australia.
If the TPP is approved, U.S. corporations would get new incentives to offshore even more production to countries like Vietnam, where workers make an average of 65 cents an hour.
Studies have produced academic consensus that our trade policies are a major contributor to today’s unprecedented income inequality. The TPP and other NAFTA-style pacts promote offshoring of well-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs, pushing down wages nationwide as trade-displaced workers compete for lower-paying jobs in the service sector that can’t be moved offshore.
Opposed by the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace and many other environmental groups, 350.org has called the TPP an “act of climate denial.”
The TPP will offshore California jobs and push down our wages. Americans across the country and across party lines have had enough of these empty free-trade promises and are saying “no” to the TPP.
Agustin “Augie” Beltran is director of public and governmental relations for the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.