There’s a global corporate coup happening right now. No, seriously. Transnational corporations are attempting to undermine our democracy on a scale we’ve never seen before—they’re literally rewriting our laws and regulations to find new ways to squeeze out a bit more profit. The important gains of progressive movements like ours will be threatened as we lose the ability to form our own policies.
We all know that “free trade” policies accelerate the race to the bottom, leading to more sweatshops at the expense of good-paying jobs. By pitting worker against worker and country against country, corporations have found a way to reduce the bargaining power of workers and unions as the constant threat of relocation for cheaper labor elsewhere looms. With increased competition for fewer jobs, 90% of Americans will see a pay cut and unions will be weakened under the TPP. Countries like Vietnam will be rewarded for extreme worker suppression and workers will face harsher conditions.
But that’s just the beginning. Under the TPP, corporations will be elevated to the status of nation-states in private international courts. Don’t like corporate personhood? Try corporate nationhood. This means that transnational corporations will be given the power to sue sovereign governments for policies and regulations that they claim violate their potential profits. If the TPP is passed, these privileges will be given to over 30,000 companies.
Just a few other concrete impacts of the TPP are:
- Environmental protections will be overturned and corporations will be able to challenge any future efforts to implement regulations
- Big Pharma will extend their medicine patents to eliminate affordable generic drugs so only rich people can have access to lifesaving medicines.
- Wall Street will be protected from efforts to implement financial regulations.
- Food safety standards will be lowered, and GMO labeling will be illegal.
- Government entities (like public universities) will not be allowed to prioritize sweatshop-free or locally grown products in their purchases.
USAS was there at the WTO Battle of Seattle in 1999 and we helped overturn monsters like this in the past. We can do it again. If we can get Congress to demand transparency and a seat at the negotiating table, we can stop the whole TPP. Our allies at United Students for Fair Trade just launched a student campaign to stop it. But corporations have been lobbying for this for years. We must make our voices heard now, before it’s too late.