City, County Leaders Condemn “Secretive” Trade Deal
October 16, 2013
County Board Chair John Hendrick, 608.446.4842 Common Council President Chris Schmidt, 608.239.0940
The Dane County Board of Supervisors and Madison Common Council are both expected to pass resolutions condemning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a NAFTA-style agreement they say has been negotiated in secret over the last five years. County Board Chair John Hendrick, Common Council President Chris Schmidt and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin jointly announced the resolution today.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being negotiated between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with the possibility of other Pacific Rim nations like Japan and China joining later. Critics say it would make it easier for corporations to shift jobs throughout the world to wherever labor is cheapest, and would erode local control over business regulation.
"The TPP advances the interests and profits of transnational corporations," said Schmidt. "It will enable them to exploit the poverty wages and lack of worker protections overseas at the expense of our jobs, our environment, and even our food. It is not simply terrible public policy that will lower our standard of living, it is an economic coup."
“If this were a good idea, it would have been debated in the open, but this process has been nothing but secretive,” said David Newby, President of the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition and Former President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “The federal government won’t provide documents relating to the negotiations to journalists or the public, but more than 600 corporate lobbyists have access. That’s not good governance.”
“The special concern for local government is creating a process whereby a multi-national corporation can challenge our local ordinances before a tribunal,” said Hendrick. “For example, Madison and Dane County have ‘Buy Local’ and living wage ordinances which might be viewed as barriers to corporate profits.”
“Transparency is something we value and demand in City government,” said Soglin. “They did it to us on NAFTA which we opposed; they cannot do it again. We can’t support it.”
Labor leaders also worry that the TPP would allow for the dismantling of environmental laws, lengthen drug patents and drive the price of medicines up, further deregulate the financial sector, erode food safety, and cut taxes for major corporations.
The County Board will take up the resolution at its regular meeting on October 17. The Common Council plans to vote on its resolution on October 29.
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