OWS Trade Justice Working Group
Afternoon Conference Call Conference Call, 10/14/11
Adam Weissman, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment
Ira Stern, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Sukjong Hong, Nodutol for Korean Community Development
Leonard Morin, Brandworkers International
Michelle Chen of Colorlines (http://colorlines.com/) requested a statement from us and submitted a few questions about our plans for post-vote action. We structured our meeting around Michelle’s questions.
Additionally Sukjong prepared this preliminary statement:
Congress just passed three free trade agreements for the 1%, deals which are guaranteed to enrich the transnational corporations and extractive industries that have already trampled on worker rights, human dignity and ecosystems for so long, and making it near-illegal to regulate Wall Street or to hold the financial industry accountable for their practices. These trade agreements effectively outsource at least 214,000 American jobs at a time when the prospects for employment for the 25 million unemployed in this country are bleaker than ever, and they also provide a tax haven for corporations and narco-traffickers, plunder the natural resources of indigenous peoples, and source cheap, non-unionized labor for corporations.
Across the coalition, we find the passage of these three trade agreements to be a major blow to the working people and environmental futures of both the United States and each of the respective countries, South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The US trade model, based on NAFTA, has clearly proven to be destructive to the lives and habitats of people across North America, decimating decent jobs across the United States and impoverishing millions of Mexican farmers. These trade agreements will only prove to have tragic consequences for the majority of people and for the future of our planet.
In the immediate future:
First of all, in the immediate period following the votes, over the next week, we are asking everyone to call both Obama and their own legislators to let their views be known based on how their representatives voted. We know that the votes were conducted quickly, without much fanfare or public debate, and they took place a year before the 2012 elections so that voters will forget – but we want them to know we will not forget. Obama broke his promise as a presidential candidate to review and repeal the NAFTA trade model and his own opposition to the US-Colombia trade deal because of human rights issues.
People can see how their elected representatives in the Senate voted here http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=1&vote=00161#position
And for the House of Representatives here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll783.xml
In terms of grassroots action, we see that over the long-term and especially over the next year, we will need to continue to do public education and media work about trade, and embed trade issues in broader movements so that people truly understand how these agreements affect their everyday lives, whether it is relation to jobs, the environment, access to affordable medicines, or the regulation of Wall Street. As part of the Occupy Wall Street Trade Justice working group, we will keep connecting trade agreements to the demands and political consciousness of the movement as a whole.
We will continue to do media work that keeps the free trade issue in the spotlight. Overall, we found coverage of the trade agreements in mainstream media to be abysmal and largely absent, or skewed towards business interests only, and we also found that progressive media needed to make this more of a spotlighted, central issue than it has. US trade policy has been an invisible killer for far too long and we need to push the media to educate and inform the American public better about its implications.
We are still in discussion over the following, but US corporate interests are steaming ahead to continue for more free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership which includes Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam, along with one between the US and the European Union, as well as with India.
We are also going to keep monitoring how the trade agreements in Korea, Colombia and Panama are impacting people’s lives, and documenting how the resistance to trade agreement measures are dealt with by governments, especially in cases where violent repression is used. Many of the organizations in Trade Justice metro are in solidarity with people’s movements in South Korea, Panama and Colombia, and will be transmitting those updates and calls for action, when necessary, to the public and to our allies.