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Central Florida Unions Say No to the TPP

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By Jerry Waxman

Remember that old 1956 movie, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the giant seed pods were replacing real people with non human things that looked like people as they slept? Remember Kevin McCarthy’s frantic warning (“They’re here already! You’re next!”) as he bounced about in traffic? That movie was a thinly veiled warning against communism which was a very popular sentiment during the McCarthy (no pun intended) years. No need to be alarmed. Communism would never take hold here because we were a free people, free to choose how we lived…….or so we thought. More rightly, the movie has become prophetic because if we substituted the words “Multinational Corporatism” it doesn’t sound so horrible but it accomplishes the same goals. Guess what? Communism was never the enemy; totalitarianism was. We are about to experience totalitarianism of a different kind, a totalitarianism so absolute that even our government, at all levels, will be powerless to stop it. It’s called the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP and our government wants us to be a part of it.

We’ve been asleep as a nation since Ronald Reagan’s election as president. That was the beginning of trickle down economics, union bashing, privatization and the consolidation of corporate power on a global basis. The economic elites see the billions of our tax dollars pumped into our highways, schools and other government services and they think to themselves that they need a piece of the action. Governments don’t make anything; they contract it out to builders, auto manufacturers, furniture manufacturers, clothing manufacturers, etc. Private industry already supplies the government with everything it needs but these people want more and our elected officials are willing to let them have it because we haven’t been holding them accountable. President Obama even alluded in his State of the Union speech to fast tracking the US efforts to join the TPP. Fast tracking is a method of escaping accountability in the US congress. The method failed on NAFTA during George H. W. Bush’s administration and NAFTA had to have a full hearing during the Clinton administration. The lessons learned from NAFTA and other free trade agreements should steer this country clear of any of those agreements in the future. I’ve written previously on the TPP in two articles, The Enemy Beneath, and You Have been Granted a Rare Privilege, the former about the dangers of the TPP and the latter about a forum in which Congressman Alan Grayson as well as other leaders spoke out. There’s no need to cover it again.

Jim Howe is a man on a mission. I first met him almost two years ago when he moved here from Midland Texas, where he was an activist, at about the same time that Occupy Orlando was starting up. He is a member of the Communications Workers of America local 3108 and his politics are decidedly progressive. He is active in the local Green Party and through his influence and efforts I got to spend a lot of time with the Green Party 2012 candidate for president, Jill Stein, who had a profound effect on me. Jim is a political activist first class and his mission these past 10 months has been to rally union and political opposition to the TPP. His efforts are starting to pay off.

At the recent AFL-CIO Central Labor Council meeting on August 14, during a hotly contested officers election meeting, Jim was able to get everyone to agree to sign on to an opposition resolution showing Central Florida labor’s stance on the TPP, prior to the elections. He also is active in Floridians Against the TPP and works closely with Public Citizen and the Citizens Trade Campaign. The Citizens Trade Campaign has crafted a letter to Congress with support from numerous groups to stop the fast tracking and the TPP itself. The letter itself hasn’t been updated since March, but Central Florida Labor was signatory to it even then.

Although it is not written about by the mainstream press in a large way there are several articles and actions popping up if you care to look for them. Most recently progressive blogger, Jim Hightower, wrote extensively and expressively on the subject. The one question we all ask ourselves is why the secrecy? How come there’s no real outrage? Are we so used to being ignored and abused by our leaders and corporations that we just meekly accept whatever crumbs we receive? Not where Central Florida Labor is concerned. With men like Jim Howe taking leading roles in keeping up the opposition this battle is far from being over. Howe wants everyone to know that the next planning meeting for action against the TPP will be held on Thursday, August 22 at 6:30 pm at CWA union hall, 2220 Edgewater Drive in Orlando. Be there, because if you’re not “you’re next!”

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