House Votes to Stand with Working Families on Trade

"Let's discard the old ways of arranging corporate trade entitlements, and open a path to revitalizing our economy on the basis of real growth, worker rights, higher wages, and shared prosperity."

afl-cio_trade-vote1The U.S. House failed to advance the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan trade bill (H.R. 1314).  House approval was dependent on two separate pieces of legislation, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), both passing.  However, TAA failed to pass by a vote of 126-302, stalling the overall legislation for now. Republicans made a motion to reconsider the TAA vote, and we expect they will attempt to bring up TAA again as early as next week.

AFL-CIO Statement on Vote

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement after the House of Representatives failed to advance the package of trade deals:

“The House of Representatives has done the right thing, but the fight isn’t over.

This is a significant day.  American workers came together and spoke with one voice about the path their country and economy should follow.  We are very grateful for all the activists, families, community leaders, and elected officials who worked so tirelessly for transparency and worker rights in international trade deals.

The debate over Fast Track so far has been a marvelous contrast to the corporate money and disillusionment that normally mark American politics today.  This was truly democracy in action – millions of people exercising their free rights to inform their elected representatives.  We should all draw from this experience to help replenish our democracy at every level on every issue.

The conversation now should turn to putting a raising wages agenda in motion.  Let’s discard the old ways of arranging corporate trade entitlements, and open a path to revitalizing our economy on the basis of real growth, worker rights, higher wages, and shared prosperity.  We look forward to working with any Democrat or Republican committed to a raising wages agenda, including pro-worker trade deals that will transform the American economy and lift up all workers.”

Statement online here: http://www.aflcio.org/Press-Room/Press-Releases/House-Votes-to-Stand-with-Working-Families-on-Trade

This trade deal fight is not over.  Please call your Representatives to hold them accountable for voting for TAA or TPA, or thank them for voting no on both bills.  It’s important that we hold all Democrats who voted “No” on TAA if and when the vote is reconsidered. 

Visit this link to see how your Representative voted on TAA: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll361.xml

Visit this link to see how your Representative voted on TPA: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2015/roll362.xml

These are the 28 Democrats (sorted by state) who joined Republicans in voting for TPA: Sewell (AL), Bera (CA), Costa (CA), Davis (CA), Farr (CA), Peters (CA), Polis (CO), Himes (CT), Wasserman Schultz (FL), Quigley (IL), Delaney (MD), Ashford (NE), Rice (NY), Meeks (NY), Blumenauer (OR), Bonamici (OR), Schrader (OR), Cooper (TN), Hinojosa (TX), Johnson, E.B. (TX), Cuellar (TX), O’Rourke (TX), Beyer (VA), Connolly (VA), Kilmer (WA), DelBene (WA), Larsen (WA), Kind (WI)

Voters are encouraged to contact their Representatives, and post information about how your Representatives voted on your website, Facebook, and Twitter (and be sure to tag your Representative’ social media handles in your tweets and posts).  Talking points and information to use is listed below.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Talking Points

What does this win mean for the labor movement?

This trade debate is inspirational. Millions of people, exercising their free rights to inform their elected representatives is what our country’s founders envisioned.  Raising our collective voices and taking collective action empowered our Representatives execute the will of the people they represent.  This fight has once again demonstrated that united together, our collective voice will be heard and corporate special interests looking toward profits at the expense of the workers doing the work will be stopped.  Our communities and our country are strongest when we have a strong middle class. By stopping this bad trade deal we have saved jobs and strengthened our middle class, our communities and our country.

What are Labor’s next steps?

We will continue to represent working families through our raising wages agenda.  Instead of focusing our time on stopping damage of bad trade deals, we again have the opportunity to revitalize our economy through real growth, worker rights, higher wages, and shared prosperity.  We will be working with both Democrats and Republicans committed to trade deals that protect workers and jobs, as part of an overall raising wages agenda to transform the American economy and lift up all workers.

Are you upset with President Obama? Does his support of these trade bills mean he’s turned his back on working families? (same question for individual members of Congress)

It is not a secret that we disagree with the President/Representative X on this issue, like we would on any issue that is not in the best interests of America’s working families.  In general President Obama/Representative X has been a champion for working families and helping find solutions to the issues they struggle with every day.  We will always stand behind him/her in support of solutions to help our country’s hard-working middle class.

What does this mean for Representative X that voted for this vote?
Will you be running a primary candidate?

The AFL-CIO is committed to being an independent voice for working people.  It is not our role to service the needs of a political party or candidate, but to improve the lives of working people.  We must hold all members of Congress accountable for all their choices on issues affecting working Americans.  The vote for Fast Track trade authorization will certainly be one criteria during our election endorsement evaluation process.

What does this vote mean for the PAC freeze?
Will you continue to withhold support from Members who voted for fast track or TAA?

The Executive Council took a vote to put the PAC freeze in place. The PAC freeze was established in order to focus our resources on stopping Fast Track. The Executive Council will now consider how to proceed.

Why did the AFL-CIO oppose renewing TAA, which benefits workers when they’ve been laid off due to bad trade deals?

This TAA was insufficient for working families, and in some cases would have hurt them. It was paid for by taking money from Medicare.  Also, it was underfunded and would not be able to be executed effectively.  And, of course, the exclusion of public sector workers, who we represent and are important to our country, was not acceptable to us.