Saturday, 07 March 2015 00:00

Hundreds of Union Workers and Allies Storm Capitol Hill to Tell Lawmakers to Stop Fast Track

Written by CWA Newsletter
CWA Local 1104’s Nick Hoh and Local 1108’s Mike Gendron are among the group meeting with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) CWA Local 1104’s Nick Hoh and Local 1108’s Mike Gendron are among the group meeting with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

In a show of solidarity, as many as 800 union and community activists from across economic sectors came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to tell their members of Congress to reject Fast Track for bad trade deals.

CWA President Larry Cohen briefed the union’s contingent, 60 leaders and activists from all CWA sectors, on Tuesday night as they prepared for a busy day of lobbying. Whether it’s factory or Internet jobs, the fight is about economic justice, Cohen said.

“The Standard & Poor’s 500 is hitting new records and NASDAQ hit 5,000 yesterday,” he said. “Meanwhile, American workers haven’t had a pay raise in 30 years. That’s unprecedented in the history of this country.”

President Obama has asked Congress to grant him Fast Track branded Trade Promotion Authority for trade deals, including for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that experts have warned will wipe out millions of U.S. manufacturing and service-sector jobs. Fast Track means up-or-down vote with no opportunity for Congress to debate or amend trade deals.

Joe Mayhew of CWA Local 1103 said having a diverse coalition was critical when meeting with members of Congress.

"The key for us was building a community coalition, and asking other groups to get on board," Mayhew said. "That made a huge a difference when we met with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). It wasn't just labor, it was the entire community."

On Capitol Hill on Wednesday, CWA Senior Campaign Lead Angie Wells and CWA retiree Tom Coley visited two North Carolina members of Congress, Reps. Alma Adams of District 12 and David Price of District 4.

"We had a great meeting with Rep. Adams," Wells said. "She fully supports us on voting against Fast Track and she supports our position against the TPP."

Rep. David Price has not come out against the TPP but said he is frustrated with Fast Track. "I think we still have an opportunity to work with him to oppose Fast Track."

Herb Keener, CWA Local 6215, was part of a group that visited five members of Congress. “The most powerful thing for us was the look of disbelief from our elected representatives that all labor groups were opposing Fast Track. One member kept trying to find the union that had not signed on but couldn’t.” One of their targets, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson moved up the meeting by four hours because she was scheduled at the last minute to meet with the President, we believe on Fast Track, Keener said. “This has made me even more energized and determined to get more letters from our members, so we can bury our members of Congress in an avalanche of letters,” he said.

As the activists learned on Tuesday, all their work the phone calls, e-mails and letters to members of Congress, office visits, rallies and town halls is beginning to pay off. A Fast Track bill had been expected to be introduced at the beginning of the year but keeps getting pushed back. Part of the reason is the near unanimity in the Democratic Caucus, along with a growing number of Republicans, that Fast Track is not the way to go.

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Put Trade in the Spotlight

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were united suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum.

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