BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
On Friday, more than 125 activists and community members held a rally in front of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley’s (D-Jackson Heights) office to ask where he stands on an international trade deal currently being debated in Congress.
According to representatives from the Food and Water Watch and Trade Justice New York Metro, they said the Trans Pacific Partnership that is being negotiated in Congress would ship domestic jobs overseas and undermine important state and local laws protecting public health, workers’ rights and the environment.
A group of senior citizens, puppeteers, performance artists, veterans, union members, local business owners and residents visually displayed their opposition to the TPP by chanting, “Which Side Are You On, Crowley.”
Activists oppose the 12-nation North American Free Trade Agreement-style deal because they call it “the end of democracy.”
Corrine Rosen, a senior organizer with Food and Water Watch, a consumer protection group, said the Trans Pacific Partnership could spell disaster for communities large and small that are seeking to protect themselves from all sorts of public health and environmental dangers.
“These monstrous trade deals, negotiated secretly in the halls of Washington, are boons for multinational corporations that seek to profit at the expense of American jobs and American health and safety standards,” she said.
She said the TPP would enable foreign corporations to sue the U.S. government for unlimited sums in international tribunals outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. court system when they believe federal, state or local US environmental, consumer protection and other public interest law interferes with their potential future projects.
Adam Weissman, founder of the Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, an organization fighting corporate globalization, said Crowley is one of only two New York Democrats in the House who have not spoken out against fast tracking the TPP.
“Fast track renders Congress powerless to amend TPP to ensure that this trade deal won’t empower foreign corporations to attack the laws that protect us in international tribunals, resulting in more fracking, factory farms and contaminated food,” he said.
A spokesperson for Crowley said one of the most important parts of his job is hearing from his constituents.
“The Congressman votes on trade agreements based on their individual merits and their impact on jobs, national security, and families and communities. He has opposed a number of trade deals like Most Favored Nations status for China, the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement. With respect to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation that President Obama requested in the State of the Union address, this has not yet come before the House for a vote, but Congressman Crowley did vote against the measure the last time it came before Congress.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.