WASHINGTON – At a union rally here celebrating the defeat of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, labor leaders and elected officials stressed that a coalition of many grassroots movements was responsible for the victory. They said that the coalition must now stay together to protect immigrants who President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to deport and to fight his efforts to destroy decades of social and economic progress.
With chants such as “the people united can never be defeated,” the crowd expressed their determination to fight Trumpism.
The rally had been called by the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, the Communications Workers of America, the Amalgamated Transit Union and the American Postal Workers union, organizations in the forefront of the six-year campaign to scuttle the TPP. It was timed to top off a week of activities aimed at convincing Congress not to vote on the deal in the lame duck session.
Then word came that President Obama would not send enabling legislation to Congress and that congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would not bring the matter to the floor.
“The TPP was stopped because of us, and Donald Trump had nothing to do with it,” National Nurses United Co-President Jean Ross told the crowd at the rally.
The facts, as usual, are not stopping Trump from writing his own version of them and he took to Twitter yesterday to claim credit for another job-saving victory he had no hand in winning.
He said last night that he had convinced Ford to keep open a Kentucky plant rather than shipping it off to Mexico. The problem with Trump’s claim was that Ford never had any intention of moving the plant to Mexico.
Shortly after 9 p.m. Trump wrote in a post that William Clay Ford Jr., the chairman of the company, hasd assured him that he “will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky – no Mexico.”
In a second post Trump claimed: “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great state of Kentucky for their confidence in me!” Trump carried Kentucky in the election last week.
AfterTrump tweeted out his lies Ford explained that it had never intended to close its Kentucky factory and that it had actually planned to expand production of another vehicle, the Ford Escape at that plant.
The UAW says it never expected job loss there because the Ford Escape is just about the most popular car in America at this point.
At he victory rally Nurses’ leader Ross and other speakers listed the many types of organizations that had worked together to defeat the TPP deal: labor unions, environmental groups, human rights advocacy organizations, student groups, LGBTQ rights groups and many faith-based organizations.
“We stood together and fought the corporations, Wall Street, even our own dear president (Obama) and the Democratic Party,” said Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers union.
“We’re working class people,” Cohen said. “We knew the TPP would destroy jobs and lower wages just to put more profits into the pockets of the corporations.
“We stayed together and we won!”
After congratulating people who worked hard to defeat the TPP, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre explained, “They say we’re against trade. We’re not against trade, but we’re against deals written behind closed doors by corporate lobbyists.
“We’ve had NAFTA, CAFTA and other deals. All were aimed at pitting U.S. workers against workers in other countries.
“Corporations can’t do that to us.”
Yesterday, in a conference call hosted by the Sierra Club, Thea Lee, AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff, listed provisions any trade deal must have to ensure it helps, not hurts, working people. This includes strong worker rights and worker safety rules.
Most important, the secret pro-corporate “trade courts,” that have been included in all trade deals to date must be eliminated. These courts are unelected panels of pro-trade lawyers that can override any state, local or federal laws or regulations that could reduce present or future corporate profits.
Movement needed now more than ever.
Speaking at the Capitol Hill rally, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said that now that there is a broad based movement against unfair trade deals, she is sure that legislation will pass Congress to revoke “fast-track” presidential trade authority that makes it easy to put trade pacts in place.
Amalgamated Transit Union Secretary-Treasurer Oscar Owens said that the movement built to oppose the TPP should turn toward protecting “many of the things we have fought for all our lives.”
They “are at risk of being dismantled,” he said. He listed:
“Civil rights. Fair immigration laws. The right to build unions. Movements toward universal health care. A woman’s right to choose. Freedom from discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity or sexual orientation. And the campaign to stop oil pipelines.”
Moreover, Owens said, “Getting money out of politics is at risk. The right to have millionaires and billionaires, such as Donald Trump, pay their fair share of taxes” is at risk.
“All of these are threatened by a Trump administration.”
He warned that “the fights we fought to win all of these pale by comparison to what lays ahead for us.
“We have to stand together, whether we’re a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew, whether we’re men or women, skilled or unskilled (workers), black, white or brown, gay or straight. And the list goes on.
“We cannot let them divide us. That’s what Trump and the bosses are counting on.”
Cohen suggested that if ICE agents come to deport people, “we should surround the house and not let them be taken.”
Introducing Sen. Bernie Sanders D-Vt., National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said she had been a proud member of his campaign for president, but that “we’re not about a ‘who;’ we’re about a ‘what.’”
Sanders has just been appointed to a newly formed leadership team of Democrats in the Senate which also includes Chuck Schumer, D.–NY, Richard Durbin, D.–Ill., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.
He said, “ I know many people voted for Donald Trump despite their understanding that he’s a racist and sexist because they believed he’ll stand up to the establishment.
“We know he won’t
“We have taken on corporate America and defeated the TPP,” Sanders said. He reminded the crowd that Clinton won the popular vote and that exit polls show “that the American people are behind us on all the issues that are important to building a progressive America such as pay equity, rebuilding infrastructure, taxing millionaires, guaranteeing health care as a right and 12 weeks of paid family leave.”