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TPP Labor Standards


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s bogus argument for TPP labor rights
by Mike Konopacki

It’s no surprise that the pro-business Milwaukee Journal Sentinel would endorse the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But to cloak its support in a bogus affirmation of worker rights is a joke. In its editorial, the MJS blasted former senator Russ Feingold’s denunciation of the TPP, “And the former senator ignores TPP’s strong worker protections that require all countries to meet enforceable rules, including the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively and prohibitions against child labor.”

Then it published a pro-TPP editorial from former Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle. “As former governor of Wisconsin, I fought to protect labor rights, both in and out of office. That’s why I’m supporting this deal — it is an opportunity for an unprecedented expansion of labor rights to parts of the globe that need it most.”

The TPP will NOT expand labor rights to a country that needs it most — the U.S. Nor will it expand labor rights to a state that has nothing but contempt for labor rights — Wisconsin. During his failed run for president Scott Walker called for the elimination of the NLRB and for a nationwide Right-To-Work law. Would the TPP protect U.S. workers from such extremism? No.

The U.S. has the worst labor rights of any western democracy. According to the International Trade Union Confederation’s 2014 survey of the world’s worst countries for workers, the U.S. rated 4 out of a score of 0-8. “Workers in countries with the rating of 4 have reported systematic violations. The government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers putting fundamental rights under continuous threat.”

While a signatory to the International Labor Organization, the U.S. has refused to ratify two of the Fundamental Conventions of the ILO that guarantee the right to organize and the right to bargain collectively (Conventions 87 and 98.)

Does signing the TPP mean that the U.S. will enforce the labor rights provisions? The AFL-CIO doubts that. “In November 2014, the Government Accountability Office reported that the U.S. government’s enforcement of labor provisions in existing trade agreements is already weak.” In April, 2015 AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka testified before the U.S. Senate that even after the Obama administration crafted changes to the Colombia trade agreement, killing and brutalizing union organizers was not considered interfering with labor rights.

How can the U.S. claim to protect worker rights in its trade agreements when it can’t even protect them in its own country? And how can the Journal Sentinel be taken seriously when it promotes this fiction?


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