Kowalko: TPP – An abdication of workers’ rights

Delaware State News | Letter to the Editor | by Rep. John Kowalko

All Americans should absolutely and resoundingly oppose the American worker-rights concession known as the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement. It has numerous, irreconcilable flaws and will cause much horrible damage to working families and American businesses. I will only list a few of the nearly dozen reasons that all should oppose this dereliction of duty.

First, the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text allows multinational companies to challenge U.S. laws, regulations and safeguards through a provision called “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS), a private justice system that undermines our democracy. Through ISDS, foreign investors can seek compensation from the United States for enforcing regulations and safeguards designed to protect America’s working families.

Additionally China’s refusal to join the agreement has left them with a significant advantage to monopolize the manufacturing aspect of the TPP without any constraints or regard for fair-pay, environmental harm, worker safety, or human rights.

The TPP’s weak rules of origin benefit China and other non-TPP countries. The rules of origin in the current TPP text are weak and allow China and other nonparticipating countries to reap the agreement’s benefits without having to follow its rules. In fact, the TPP’s auto-content requirement allows the majority of the auto content to be Chinese and manufactured outside the trade agreement’s rules.

This has the effect of promoting jobs in China while destroying U.S. auto-supply-chain jobs.

I personally spoke with individuals who participated in the creation and drafting of this proposed agreement and was told and assured that nothing in the TPP forbade any of the 11 signatories from having their products manufactured in China and sold as TPP goods to American consumers through the member nations. In fact, there is no reporting or regulatory option for such behavior once the pact is signed.

Finally, be aware that Malaysia’s horrible human rights rating of a “3” precluded them from even being part of the negotiations until the United States and President Obama downgraded them to a less-severe “2” rating, with no apparent justification, that permitted them to be included in the pact.

Corporate America, the president, and most supporters of this agreement have forfeited the moral conscience of the United States for profit.

State Rep. John Kowalko
Democrat – District 25 (Newark South)

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