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IONIA May 8, 2015– U.S. Rep. Justin Amash held a town hall meeting at Ionia City Hall last night, where he was greeted by dozens of union activists and their families holding signs and protesting against the proposed Fast Track trade legislation.
The rally was organized by IUE-CWA Local 436; members of several local unions were present.
Inside City Hall, Rep. Amash was asked about his stance on the Fast Track legislation, and he said he was still considering how he’ll vote. He also said that he didn’t think the bill would come up for a vote any time soon, because there has been so much push back from labor groups.
“I support free trade,” Amash said. “But I don’t know if I can support this or not. My focus in recent weeks has been mostly on national security, so to be honest, I haven’t actually read the [Fast Track] bill.”
From the Ionia-Sentinel Standard:
“Fast track is basically a trade promotion authority that was enacted by Nixon, and it forces Congress to vote yes or no on the bill without making any amendments to it, and there’s limited debate on it,” said Chris Jammer, member of the Local 436. “This whole bill has been set up in secrecy.”
Jammer said that the group wasn’t necessarily against the trade deal, but the fast track of the bill itself. Fast track refers to a bill that goes before Congress that can be approved or disapproved, but can not be amended.
The [labor] group rallied to express its concerns over potential job loss in Michigan if the TPP is enacted. According to a Local 436 press release, there have been an estimated one million jobs lost after the passing of NAFTA due to outsourcing, and the group is afraid that the TPP could contribute to the trend.
“It’s a secret deal,” said Eric Geister, president of the IUE-CWA Local 436. “Nothing needs to be done in secrecy. We’ve had enough American jobs lost overseas to these trade deals, and we don’t need it anymore.”
Jammer spoke on the secrecy of the bill, stating that the bill is kept in a secured room where a limited number of people can actually read it.
Rep. Amash said he understands people’s reservations about having trade treaties negotiated in secrecy, but still thinks free trade is a positive for country.
KICLC President Sean Egan recently penned an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press in which he lays out why Fast Track is bad for all workers.
To read more about Fast Track, click here.