On the 4th of June, activists began the “Rigged Trade Rebellion” presence on Capitol Hill to oppose passage of “fast-track” for the TPP and other trade deals. This presence will continue every Tuesday and Thursday at Independence and NJ Aves SW. The TPP treaty is nearly done except for disputes between the US and Japan, stopping fast-track is not crucial to stopping the entire TPP.
The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), the TTIP (“Euro-NAFTA”), and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) would all be covered by fast-track. Fast-track or “trade promotion authority” means an up or down, simple majority vote with no amendments, no fillibusters, and limited debate on treates being kept secret until just before the votes. Almost all that is known about these deals comes from chapters captured by various people and posted to Wikileaks, and all of it is bad. It appears that these three deals are an attempt to “piecemeal” the failed Doha/WTO deal stopped at Seattle. Also included are things comparable to SOPA that never get through Congress on their own, plus the usual GMO/Monsanto/seed and drug patent garbage.
In addition one person on Capitol Hill reports that anti-labor provisions in the TPP and TTIP seem to be crafted to facilitate the spread of Wal-Mart style “zero hour” labor contracts. These have spread like the plague in the UK and some other places since the start of the Great Recession. A zero hour contract is an employment contract for anythig from full time all the way down to zero, at the employer’s discretion. No other job can be taken as you are “on call,” yet no income is guaranteed. On the other hand, there is outright human trafficking, slavery, and sweatshops long promoted by NAFTA type deals.
The Senate fast-track bill contains an anti-slavery/anti human trafficking provision that Obama so opposes he has said he will veto fast-track if it is included! Apparently there is so much slavery in Malaysia that they would be excluded from the TPP if the Senate fast-track authority is passed by the House, signed by Obama and used instead of full debate. Thus, we have the spectacle of an African-American president threatening to veto a bill in order to protect slavery! No doubt there will be attempts to pass a House bill that does not contain this provision, then strip it out in a conference committee. At the moment there are not the votes in the House to pass fast-track due to opposition from both the Congressional Black Caucus on one hand and the Tea Party on the other. Thus no vote is scheduled and it appears that those spreading their bribes on the Hill plan to lobby for votes, then ask the House to suddenly schedule a vote if and when they get a winning margin.
This is a goal-line stand right now with the “game” on the line! The Flush The TPP activists are asking people to inundate the House of Representatives with anti-fast-track phone calls to hold their feet to the fire. They will be present at Independence and NJ Ave SE every Tuesday and Thursday so long as this is “in play,” there is talk that it could become a continuous occupation if necessary. This is the same strategy that was sucessfully used at the FCC to force net neutrality into law and defeat corporate fast lanes on the Internet, so we know it works.