Tag Archives: fast track

Malaysia Receives Upgrade Despite Continued Worker Trafficking

After lawmakers placed restrictions on the Fast Track bill that prohibit the US from making fast track trade agreements with countries ranked as tier-three on the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Malaysia was upgraded from that lowest rating. “This clearly political decision undermines the credibility of important anti-trafficking efforts and underscores the fact that the Obama administration is perfectly willing to abandon workers to pursue its trade agenda,” says AFL-CIO political blogger Charlie Fanning.

An upgrade on the TIP report should signify progress in curbing human trafficking, but in the case of Malaysia, where trafficking is a major black market industry, labor and human rights groups say this is not the case. Malaysian officials frequently line their pockets or turn a blind eye to pervasive exploitation. Most of Malaysia’s victims are among the country’s 4 million migrant workers (40% of its workforce) who work in industries such as varied as electronics, agriculture, domestics, and the garment sectors.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal accused Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak of pocketing more than $700 million in public funds. The regime’s history of corruption and anti-transparency greatly undermines any promises made regarding human trafficking.

Trade Deals Need to Work for Workers, not CEOs


Even though Congress pulled some last-minute political maneuvering to get Fast Track passed last month—we beat all the odds and changed the game. Despite arm-twisting from corporations and the 1%, Congress nearly defeated Fast Track thanks to pressure that millions of working Americans put on their legislators.

In the coming months, as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the biggest trade deal in the history of US trade deals—moves forward, Congress will have to vote on it. Working Americans need to stand together to make sure the TPP doesn’t sell out working people here and abroad, give foreign corporations special privileges to sue US taxpayers to recover lost profits, nor undermine efforts to stop climate change.

“We need to carry this momentum forward and tell our lawmakers to focus on policies to raise wages, so millions of working families don’t have to worry about putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their heads. And one way to do that is to ensure that the final TPP is as good for working people as President Obama has said it is,” says AFL-CIO Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist Celeste Drake.

Tell US Trade Representative Michael Froman and President Barack Obama to make trade deals work for working people and not CEOs by signing the petition at: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/trade-deals-must-work-for-working-people.

Fast Track Derailed in House

According to Reuters, the House of Representatives has effectively blocked Fast Track. The legislation had created unusual coalitions with President Obama and House Republican leaders are allied in supporting it, while most Democrats and some Republicans oppose it. Labor organizations oppose Fast Track, they fear will result in American job losses by giving Congress less oversight when it comes to trade deals. Congress would lose the ability to make changes to a trade deal, and would only allow it to hold a yes-or-no vote on one. Though the legislation is dead for now, the House may still hold a Fast Track vote in order to allow members to share their views. In the weeks leading up to the vote the AFL-CIO has asked workers to contact their representatives to speak out against Fast Track.

Make Your Voice Heard as House Prepares to Vote on Fast Track

The US House is expected to vote on Fast Track before the weekend, so it’s time to make your voice heard. And we have to stop it so it doesn’t take away our jobs, wages and our ability to make sure international trade deals work for everybody, not just corporations and the 1%.

Click here to call your representative and ask him or her to stand with working people and vote “no” on Fast Track.

Our democracy and the livelihood of working families across the country depend on us finishing what we’ve started. Congress needs to know that we will not stand by and let the 1% trade away our democracy for their gains in profit. We may be the underdogs but, if we act now, stopping Fast Track is a real possibility.

National Call-In Day to Stop Fast Track

The AFL-CIO has declared today National Call-In Day to Stop Fast Track. Now that Congress is back from vacation, it’s expected to bring Fast Track to a vote any day now. Many elected officials can still be swayed by reminding them of what the voters want. Do your part to prevent the passage of bad trade deals. Visit the website https://actionnetwork.org/forms/tell-your-representative-vote-no-on-fast-track or call 1-855-712-8441.

Trumka to Presidential Candidates: There’s Nowhere to Hide

In a speech at union headquarters, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka highlighted issues that will be a litmus test for 2016 presidential candidates. He says that they will have to weigh in on items such as minimum wage, fast-track, and sick leave before earning AFL-CIO endorsement.

“It is early, and although many candidates are already in the race, the field remains open, and the labor movement’s doors are open to any candidate who is serious about transforming our economy with high and rising wages,” he says, adding that they will need to choose between Wall Street and American workers.

“No candidate will be able to dodge any issue,” he says.

Working Families Blocked from Reading TPP Text

On June 2, working families, labor leaders, members of Congress, and community allies gathered at the AFL-CIO headquarters, behind the White House, and unveiled a giant banner with two simple requests: “show us the text” and “show us the jobs.” If TPP is in fact the “most progressive trade deal in history,” which will lead to the creation of 700,000 jobs, why aren’t Americans being allowed to read it? After the unveiling, rally attendees marched to the US Trade Representatives office to ask to read the text. The normally open door was locked and when the workers knocked there was no answer. The workers promised a mass calling of Congress on June 2. Do your part and tell Congress to stop Fast Track  and the bargaining of trade deals behind closed doors.

Labor Groups Oppose ISDS in Trade Agreements

The AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) have reaffirmed their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Fast Track legislation that allows no amendments and limited debate on trade deals.

Among the provisions of the trade deals, the unions find investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) especially egregious. ISDS essentially allows foreign property owners to skip domestic courts and administrative procedures in seeking taxpayer reimbursement for losses to expected profits from laws, regulations, administrative decisions, and other government measures. They can instead sue the host country through a panel of private “arbitrators.” Labor groups contend that such extreme rights to challenge democracy are not good for domestic business, citizens, nor the rule of law. The AFL-CIO and CLC say they “will not cease in our efforts to promote good jobs, raising wages, strong social safety nets, state-of-the-art public services and infrastructure, and an end to corporate power grabs like ISDS in all pending trade and investment agreements.”

For more information about Fast Track in trade deals and why groups oppose it visit: www.stopfasttrack.com. To sign a petition to tell Congress to oppose Fast Track visit: www.nofasttrack.com.