The AFL-CIO announced Monday plans to conduct an all out media assault in key battleground states ahead of a House vote to grant President Barack Obama unilateral trade authority.
“The AFL-CIO is ramping up efforts to stop Fast Track with a targeted advertising blitz against undecided members of Congress,” the AFL-CIO declared in a press release. “The ads reflect the sentiment of working families who are vehemently opposed to giving Fast Track authority to another bad trade deal that costs American jobs.”
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast-track, has created a divide between the president and many on the left, including labor unions. If passed, the president could submit a finalized trade deal to Congress that could not be amended or filibustered and would only need a straight up or down vote.
Fast-track would allow the president to much more easily pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which unions claim will benefit corporations and special interests at the expense of working Americans and the environment. The ads are scheduled to run through June 14.
“The ad focuses on how fast track will stifle America’s ingenuity and cost jobs by stacking the deck in favor of multinational corporations, driving down wages and undercutting our nation’s competitive edge,” the press release continued.
The union, in collaboration with The Coalition to Stop Fast Track, plans to launch the television ads in Washington D.C., California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas and Washington state. The AFL-CIO also plans to attack politicians who support the measure.
“The AFL-CIO is also running a TV ad in Sacramento criticizing Rep. Ami Bera for his support of fast track and posted a classified ad in the Sacramento Bee, on Career Builder and on Sacramento Craigslist, looking for a Congressman in CA-7 with a backbone,” the union noted.
“This evening the New York State AFL-CIO will rally to hold Congresswoman Rice accountable for her fast track flip flop,” it said. “On the digital front, the AFL-CIO purchased a digital ad buy in The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico and The Hill.”
Back in April, Republicans Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Paul Ryan, along with Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, introduced a fast-track bill. After some back and forth, the bill passed and went to the House, where it has yet to be decided. It is likely, if the House passes it, Obama will sign it into law.
Despite the adamant opposition among organized labor, Obama has promised the trade deal would include provisions that benefit unions. As Obama noted in a recent speech at Nike, the deal protect workers’ freedom to form unions in countries that previously did not have such protections.
“So when you look at a country like Vietnam, under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards,” Obama argues. “It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions— for the very first time.”
In the “Labor and the Environment” section, the TPA bill dictates that any trade deal that comes about through it, whether it’s TPP or not, must adopt and maintain measures implementing internationally recognized core labor standards. If true, current unions may very well be granted access to millions of new workers from countries they previously did not.
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