The United Autoworkers Union, aka UAW, is denouncing the passage earlier this week by the U.S. House of a Fast Track bill that will allow in its view another job destroying trade pact, specifically the so-called TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) that lame-duck President Obama is supporting with little cooperation from Democrats and, significantly, some Republicans who are up for reelection this fall in industrial states. The fight now moves to the U.S. Senate.
“This is a sad day for our democracy,” said newly appointed UAW President Dennis Williams who is facing the expiration of all of the Detroit Three contracts this September. “The United States House of Representatives turned their backs on the American people and voted to not do their job. Instead, they surrendered their constitutional authority to the executive branch for the next six years for all free trade agreements.”
No trade agreement adopted under “Fast Track” has ever been defeated. It is the UAW’s contention – supported by much data gathered after the jobs destroying NAFTA agreement, that the American auto industry, which leads the country in manufactured exports today, will be hurt.
“Fast Track puts the auto industry U.S. manufacturing at risk now and in the future as our trade negotiators work to complete the trade agreement. We are up against countries with closed markets and horrendous records on human rights,” said Williams.
As stated the battle now goes back to the U.S. Senate where fast track was defeated because of procedural moves by Democrats.
The causes of the fierce fighting here goes back to NAFTA, which proved disastrous for American workers but was a boon to multinational companies, including automakers as high paying jobs were transferred to low-wage Mexico, a process ongoing in the latest plant expansions.
NAFTA was made possible from fast track authority given to President George H.W. Bush in 1991. However, only 34% of House Democrats joined the majority granting fast track authority to Bush in 1991, not enough to get NAFTA passed. President Bill Clinton subsequently bought the needed votes in Congress by bribing (this was called earmarks in those days) thereby picking up enough Democratic votes in the House.