March planned in Minneapolis against fast track for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Activists targeted Cargill for its support of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership last summer.

Activists targeted Cargill for its support of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership last summer.

Anticipating attempts to sidestep Congressional oversight of the latest free-trade agreement, activists will rally downtown Minneapolis Aug. 20 against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive, NAFTA-style trade pact being negotiated in secret by representatives of 12 countries with Pacific shorelines.

The noon rally will take place at the corner of 7th Street and Nicollet Avenue. Click here to view the event page on Facebook.

Last month at a panel discussion on the TPP, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison issued a call to action, urging constituents to target efforts to approve the TPP via so-called “fast track” authorization, which forces members of Congress to take an up-or-down vote on the agreement without offering amendments.

“When fast track is dropped, we need to have mass rallies all across this country,” Ellison said.

The Aug. 20 rally suggests Twin Cities activists are heeding Ellison’s advice.

“Fast Track creates a situation where negotiators cannot be held accountable by the public, and legislators are denied their constitutional authority to set the terms of trade agreements,” the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition’s flier announcing the event says (click to download). “This undermines democracy, and inhibits Congress’ and our ability to thoroughly understand the impacts the agreement could have on their constituents.”

A prominent national labor leader will join the rally: Larry Cohen, president of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America.

Together, TPP member countries account for roughly half of the global economy and more than one-third of the world’s trade, meaning the pact will have a major impact on workers, consumers, farmers and small businesses in all 12 countries.

Drafts and proposals used during TPP negotiations are classified, keeping both the media and members of Congress mostly in the dark. About 600 “cleared advisors” have access to TPP drafts, including representatives of multinational corporations like Walmart, Cargill and Monsanto.

Draft proposals leaked to the media show the TPP could have far-reaching impacts on everything from food-safety inspections to buy-local laws. “A lot of the agreement isn’t about trade, it’s about lowering standards so that corporations have more access,” said Jim Harkness of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “This is a very dangerous path to take.”

Union leaders fear the TPP, like NAFTA and other trade agreements before it, will make it easier for multinational corporations to offshore U.S. jobs to countries with lower wages and fewer environmental and safety regulations.

“Thousands of people are about to lose out big time, but not if we can stop this terrible trade policy,” said Josh Wise, director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition.

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