The St. Paul City Council took up the fight to stop fast track Wednesday, when members unanimously approved a resolution “opposing the extension of bad trade policies.”
“The people of the City of Saint Paul have the best chance to benefit from pending trade and investment agreements only if the process by which they are negotiated undergoes a transformation to make the process open, fair and inclusive,” the resolution says.
Congress is considering a new fast track bill that, like previous versions, would force members to approve or reject – but not amend – trade agreements negotiated by the president’s trade ambassadors, like the 1,000-page Trans-Pacific Partnership.
By passing the resolution, members of the council joined union members, environmentalists, faith leaders and others across the country speaking out against fast track – and calling on their members of Congress to vote down the bill.
Locally, those lobbying efforts have focused on Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Rep. Betty McCollum, whose district includes the St. Paul, is on record opposing fast track.
Bobby Kasper, president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, said council members showed their commitment to democracy, transparency and fairness for working people by passing the resolution.
“Fast track paves the road for trade agreements that do more than set tariffs and trade,” Kasper said. “Current proposals in the TPP would allow multinational corporations to challenge local ordinances governing food safety, setting wage and lending standards or establishing ‘buy-local’ procurement policies.
“We’re fortunate to have City Council members in St. Paul who share our opposition to fast track, and we’re hopeful other elected officials at the local level will follow their lead.”
Kasper credited Council Member Chris Tolbert for bringing the resolution before the council.
“I am grateful for the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation’s leadership in the fight against fast track, and my colleagues and I were proud to be able to join labor by unanimously supporting opposition to this legislation,” Tolbert said. “This legislation will hurt working families across the country by outsourcing more jobs overseas – good paying jobs that are important for keeping a strong middle class in St. Paul and across the country.”