This October, All Hands On Deck to Stop the TPP
The White House is hell-bent on forcing the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress during the lame-duck session immediately after the election, when political accountability to constituents is at its lowest.
That’s why it’s critical that workers and unions demand that waffling members of Congress state their opposition to the TPP this October, before the election—while we still have some leverage.
TPP is like a giant version of NAFTA, covering 12 countries around the Pacific. This multinational treaty poses an urgent threat to our democracy, jobs, health, environment, drug prices, and the Internet.
Communications Workers (CWA) Local 3611 member Grant Welch hadn’t even heard of the TPP until he attended a union training in June. Now he’s helping his local to phonebank, asking every member to call their Congressperson. CWA held a national call-in day September 14.
“People are eager and willing to learn,” says Welch, a telecom worker in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We have a group of very passionate young workers who have visited every work center and every yard to tell workers about the TPP.” He and fellow activists have also passed out flyers at Moral Monday rallies, and they’re spreading the word to family and friends.
EASY WAYS TO TAKE ACTION
To start taking action, you don’t need to become an expert. It’s enough to know the basics in this article. As Simon and Garfunkel sang, “I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.”
I wear my large “NO TPP” button every day, at work and everywhere else. Many people like it, and it starts a conversation. Some ask, “What is TPP?” Others ask where they can get a button. I carry some extras in my pocket to give out.
Doing something, even for just a few minutes a week, is much better than doing nothing. Here are a few ways to get started:
Join Local Efforts. There are community groups already working against the TPP. Your union can work with them, and with other unions and labor councils, to pressure key members of Congress.
Find Buddies. Even if your local won’t take action, you can work with co-workers, friends, neighbors, or on your own. There may be members willing to become the local experts and activists on TPP. Find and encourage them.
Add Your Voice. Visits and emails to your member of Congress matter. Letters to the editor of your local newspaper matter. Meet Congressmembers at public events as they campaign for reelection. To find out where your representative stands on TPP, email Elizabeth Swager of the Citizens Trade Campaign, elizabeth[at]citizenstrade[dot]org.
Hold a Sign. One easy tactic is to stand along a busy street with a homemade sign such as “No TPP” or “Rep. Smith, Take a Stand: No TPP” or “TPP Is Betrayal.” This raises public awareness—exactly what the billionaires don’t want.
Find Others to Help. Have personal conversations with co-workers and stewards. When people are asked directly to help in a specific way, they will often agree. If they cannot do that thing, there may be something else they can do.
Get Personal. Commit to telling at least one friend or family member about the dangers of TPP.
Smile. Keep a tone of hope and optimism. Nobody wants to listen to Chicken Little. Be patient.
Spread the Word. Use social media, your union newsletter and website, and bulletin boards. Conduct trainings for union members. Leaflet at the worksite gate.
Steve Brown is a postal worker in Colorado.