Deepening the rift between Rep. Ami Bera and organized labor groups that helped Bera to narrow election victories, the AFL-CIO has funded an advertisement slamming Bera’s support of a controversial trade pact.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has fractured Democrats. Bera, D-Elk Grove, is among the few members of the party supporting President Barack Obama’s request for so-called “fast-track” powers to negotiate the TPP, which organized labor has denounced.
Now the AFL-CIO has escalated its criticism of Bera’s position, spending what an official characterized as “six figures” on a television advertisement that will run for at least a week and says Bera “will do anything to keep his job. Including shipping your job overseas.” The spot claims that the deal could mean “millions of lost jobs.” You can watch below:
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A spokesman for the California Labor Federation, the state branch of the national organization, said the spot is intended to put pressure on Bera ahead of an expected vote next week on the fast-track authority.
“For the many folks who supported him based on his promise and pledge to protect middle-class jobs, I think this is an important way to let folks know that Ami Bera has turned his back on them,” said spokesman Steve Smith.
In an emailed statement, Bera defended his support of a trade deal that he said improves noticeably upon past proposals.
“The new TPA demands enforceable labor standards, increased transparency, and environmental protections not seen in previous trade authority bills,” Bera said, using an acronym for the fast-track authority. “I’m supporting this TPA because I believe allowing the President to negotiate an agreement could lead to a good deal for America that would create good-paying jobs in Sacramento County and grow our economy.”
Both of Bera’s campaigns have been nail-biters, with his swing seat the target of an expensive national campaign. He won re-election this year after an initial count showed his Republican opponent, Doug Ose, with the lead.
He has been helped in those efforts by abundant spending from independent groups, some of which draw funding from organized labor. Smith suggested that a Bera vote in favor of the trade deal would undercut union support.
“For those workers who walked door to door or talked to voters about Ami Bera’s support of the middle class,” Smith said, “if he votes for fast-track and against good jobs, I don’t see how we could ever ask any of those folks to canvass neighborhoods and talk about Ami Bera’s support of jobs again.”