March 10, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Congress didn’t introduce a bill to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal before recess this week, but numerous labor leaders and New York’s Congressional delegation gathered at City Hall on Monday morning to say that the TPP should be derailed off the fast track!
The TPP is an enormous trade agreement that the White House is seeking to conclude with 11 other nations in the Asia-Pacific region and South America, as well as Canada and Mexico. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s website the TPP will unlock many economic opportunities for businesses and workers. A map of the United States allows viewers to select their state to see how the TPP would positively impact its economy. For example, the trade representative office claims that New York has a lot to gain from the TPP, such as increasing exports and sustaining thousands of jobs.
“New York exported $23 billion annually in goods to all TPP markets (2011 through 2013 average). During this period, 28 percent of New York’s total goods exports went to the TPP region. The top three product categories exported to TPP-member economies in 2013 were miscellaneous goods, machinery manufactures, and computers and electronic products.”
And in 2011 (latest available data), almost one-fourth (24.2 percent) of all manufacturing workers in New York depended on exports for their jobs, according to the trade office.
But the speakers at the steps of City Hall said that the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement also promised jobs and exports but instead led to factory closings.
In the accompanying video, we interviewed James Conigliaro, director of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 15, who said that trade deals like the TPP places workers in a precarious spot.
“My union is opposed to this deal because we’ve seen with deals like NAFTA it erodes our manufacturing base. [At] The manufacturing plants where we still represent members, wages aren’t going up because the corporations say ‘we can’t compete with overseas [competition.] If you continue to make a stink about it, then we’ll move overseas.’ So it’s almost like a hammer over the heads of our working people when these trade deals are signed,” said Conigliaro.
We asked him for his response to the trade office’s depiction of how the TPP wouldl better New York.
“We’ve heard this BS before. NAFTA hasn’t helped us in any way. Maybe people are happy they can go buy a flat-screen TV for $400 and think that’s good for the country, but all NAFTA did was send good paying jobs overseas. It’s never worked for us,” Conigliaro said.