Protesters scaled the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday and dropped banners calling for greater transparency and an end to "corporatocracy" over the ongoing and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently in the works between the United States and several Pacific nations.
Those negotiations, which have been brokered entirely behind closed doors, are certain to put corporate profits ahead of both human rights and environmental concerns, opponents of the pact have argued.
Groups involved in the ongoing protests include FlushTheTPP.org, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Earth First!, Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.
“Regulating Wall Street is what we need. It’s time to flush the TPP," Melinda St. Louis, international campaigns director for Public Citizen, said to the crowd on Friday as she stood in front of a large cardboard-constructed roll of toilet paper labeled the TPP Death Star.
"Protecting workers is what we need,” she said.
"Americans cannot afford another back-room deal that offshores manufacturing and service jobs, reduces tax revenues and pushes down wages and benefits in the jobs that remain," Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign said Friday. "Unless exposed to the light of day and real public participation, the TPP is poised to enrich corporate interests at the expense of the economy, the environment and public health at home and abroad."
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While the U.S. public and the press have been locked out of TPP meetings, corporate "trade advisers" have participated and been given copies of the agreement.
President Barack Obama announced Thursday he will push fast-track legislation, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, which will allow him to push through trade agreements while taking away congressional powers to amend.
"This is the grand-daddy of trade deals, a very destructive project, and it is happening completely under the radar," Chris Townsend, political director for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), told Common Dreams on Friday.
Watch below for an interview with Public Citizen's Melinda St. Louis at the protest on Friday.