Growing and strengthening west Michigan's middle class
GRAND RAPIDS April 27, 2015– Kent-Ionia Labor Council President Sean Egan (IBEW Local 275) recently wrote an opinion piece opposing Fast Track trade legislation. The Detroit Free Press ran his letter last Friday. You can read it below in its entirety:
I understand that Congress may soon consider legislation to renew “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). As a leader in the west Michigan labor community, I find this to be a cause for grave concern.
I fail to understand why, when our trade deals have such poor track records, “fast tracking” more trade deals would be anyone’s priority. In fact, between 2001 and 2013, there have been more than 80,000 jobs displaced from Michigan alone due to our enormous trade deficit with China. The United States Congress should not be giving a president—any president—the “Fast Track” power to negotiate trade deals behind closed doors and then present them to the public as a done deal.
What our economy needs now is more jobs and higher wages. The best way to do that is by building and fixing roads, schools, rail and airports; raising the minimum wage; and ensuring that workers cannot be fired or discriminated against simply because they want to form a union. These are the types of bills that should be “fast tracked.”
Only after we fix what is wrong with our economy should we consider moving trade agreements—and only then if we change the trade model so it helps raise wages, create jobs, boost small businesses, and protect against unsafe imports or labor and human rights abuses by repressive governments. To do that, we will need a new trade negotiating authority that allows trade rules to be discussed in the open, in the light of day, where communities, small businesses, family farms, workers and other voices can be heard.
“Fast Track” has allowed giant global corporations to have too much control over our country’s trade and economic policies—and this has to stop so we can create a sustainable economy that works for all Americans.
This is not a matter of Republican vs. Democrat or labor vs. management. The Kent-Ionia Labor Council stands together with labor leaders and business leaders across the country, like Michigan’s own Ford Motor Company, in opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposed Fast Track trade legislation.
President, Kent-Ionia Labor Council