CWA volunteers take fair-trade message into John Kline’s district

CWA members set to doorknock in West St. Paul are, L to R, Amber Kush, Lisa Markegard, Nick Feist, Christina Hollie and Mona Meyer.

CWA members set to doorknock in West St. Paul are, L to R, Amber Kush, Lisa Markegard, Nick Feist, Christina Hollie and Mona Meyer.

Twin Cities members of the Communications Workers of America have some major concerns about the latest proposed free-trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. On June 20 they took those concerns to union members in West St. Paul and asked supporters to sign onto a letter to 2nd Congressional District Rep. John Kline.

The letter asked Kline to identify what’s in the TPP. That may sound like a simple request, but the fact is most members of Congress don’t know.

The TPP, which encompasses 11 countries and would be the largest free trade agreement the US has ever signed, is being negotiated in secret, with hardly any oversight from Congress. In fact, only about 600 “trade advisors,” mostly representatives of multinational corporations, are privy to the talks.

CWA members Tom Laabs, Dale Foster and Earl Moore prepare to knock doors in John Kline’s district.

CWA members Tom Laabs, Dale Foster and Earl Moore prepare to knock doors in John Kline’s district.

But as previous free trade agreements have shown, corporations aren’t the only ones with a stake in how trade negotiations play out. Since NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, took effect in 1994, the number of trade-displaced jobs certified by the Labor Department in Minnesota stands at 39,797 – the 15th highest in the nation as a percentage of state population.

Fortunately, some members of Congress are working to lift the cloud of secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations.

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District will join a public forum on the trade pact Monday, July 1, in Minneapolis. According to organizers, Ellison will “explain what the TPP is, what it will do, and how we can fight back!” Click here to view the event details on Facebook.

Along with Ellison, the forum will feature Josh Wise of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, Jim Harkness of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Richard Ryan of the International Association of Machinists.

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