It’s been a rough couple of days for Congressman Ami Bera. Bera, representing communities in the Sacramento region, announced his support for Fast Track legislation in an opinion piece to the Sacramento Bee on Saturday. In his piece, Bera claimed that “The Trade Promotion Authority also requires the strongest deal yet on labor and the environment.” Unfortunately for Bera, Buzzfeed broke the news that this statement and several others from the piece were copied and pasted straight from talking points disseminated by lobbyists of corporations who stand to gain from the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Yesterday, Bera admitted and apologized for what may have amounted to plagiarism. But the even bigger problem with Bera’s shoddy copy-and-paste job is that it revealed exactly who is influencing him on this enormously important vote. It’s not working people and environmental advocates who have sounded the alarm about the disastrous impact Fast Track and the TPP would have on jobs and the environment. It’s not even his own constituents in CD 7, who oppose Fast Track legislation by an overwhelming 2-1 margin, according to a recent poll by Lake Research Partners. .
California Labor Federation’s Steve Smith:
“It’s really unfortunate that Rep. Bera would rather parrot the talking points of corporate lobbyists and D.C. insiders than listen to folks in his own district who overwhelmingly oppose fast-tracking a critical trade deal that could lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of lost jobs in the Sacramento region.“
Just last week, environmental advocates and labor united to author an original opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee. The piece, Pacific Trade Deal is Bad for California was authored by Dean Wallraff of a national board member of the Sierra Club and Laura Reynolds, Vice president of the Communications Workers of America District 9, representing 190,000 workers in California.
Both Wallraff and Reynolds assert that the TPP, authored in secret, is a huge gamble for working people and has the potential to harm our environment for decades to come:
“The Obama administration is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal with 11 other countries – including Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam and others – that will cost us jobs and jeopardize our clean air and water.
Trade deals can be good if they’re done responsibly – if they improve our economy, protect our environment and uplift our overall quality of life. But from what we’ve seen, the TPP will drag us in the opposite direction by offshoring our jobs, eroding our wages and leaving environmental and consumer protections vulnerable to attack from corporations”
The privileged few with access to information on the TPP include lobbyists and attorneys representing the very corporations who stand to gain from keeping trade deals secret from American workers. Our elected officials, including Rep. Bera, have only been allowed to view sections at a time and threatened with legal action if they share what they see. In fact, all we know about this massive trade deal has been made available through leaked documents published by WikiLeaks. And what we have seen is alarming. Wallraff and Reynolds explain one of the major red flags:
“Also, this agreement would allow foreign corporations to sue the U.S. over laws that they allege could cut into their expected profits. That includes laws designed to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
This corporate empowerment will pose a massive threat to our environment. A draft of the environment chapter, leaked earlier this year, had weak language about all of the region’s main conservation issues – fish, wildlife and forest protections. Without fully enforceable safeguards in the Pacific Rim, natural wonders like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Peru’s Amazon rain forest and California’s Stanislaus and Mendocino national parks could be destroyed”
Fast Track legislation would force our elected officials to vote on the TPP without the ability to add in safeguards for workers or the environment, make edits, or delete sections that could be detrimental to our economy and our planet for years to come.
The California Labor Federation has also partnered with the League of Conservation Voters to urge Senator Dianne Feinstein to vote no on Fast Track. Take action with us today.
*photo caption: Working people of Sacramento visited Rep. Bera's office this week to demand he listen to people of his district and vote NO on Fast Track