Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"The final text of the agreement, released in November, is even worse than we imagined, with loopholes in labor enforcement and rewards for outsourcing," writes AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. (Image: File)

As Countries Line Up to Sign Toxic Deal, Warren Leads Call to Reject TPP

Elizabeth Warren warns agreement 'would tilt the playing field even more in favor of big multinational corporations and against working families'

Deirdre Fulton

With 12 nations expected to sign the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in New Zealand on Thursday, opponents in the U.S. and beyond are renewing their criticisms of the deal's worst provisions, which they warn pose serious dangers to the climate, working families, and democracy.

The signatures mark the end of the negotiating process, with a broad agreement on the deal having been reached in October. Now, all 12 Pacific Rim countries will be able to begin their respective domestic ratification processes, which in the U.S. means passage by Congress.

"The TPP is a giveaway to big corporations, special interests and all those who want economic rules that benefit the wealthy few. It is no wonder the presidential front-runners from both political parties oppose it."
—Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Recent reporting suggests Congress won't take up the issue until after the November elections—which gives opponents time to hone their arguments against the toxic deal.

"I urge my colleagues to reject the TPP and stop an agreement that would tilt the playing field even more in favor of big multinational corporations and against working families," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said on the U.S. Senate floor on Tuesday. Noting that "most of the TPP's 30 chapters don't even deal with traditional trade issues," she argued, "most of TPP is about letting multinational corporations rig the rules on everything from patent protection to food safety standards—all to benefit themselves."

Warren was one of 38 senators who voted against a bill last year allowing the president to "Fast Track" trade agreements like the TPP through Congress on a simple majority vote, with senators unable to amend the deals or challenge specific provisions.

"A rigged process produces a rigged outcome," she continued, blasting the composition of advisory committees that were made up of industry executives and the cloak of secrecy that surrounded the negotiations. 

Warren specifically called out the TPP's Investor-State Dispute Settlement, or ISDS, provisions, which she said give "big companies...the right to challenge laws they don't like—not in court, but in front of industry-friendly arbitration panels that sit outside any court system. Workers, environmentalists, human rights advocates, they don't get that special right—only corporations do."

Watch Warren's speech in full:

Warren isn't the only one sounding the alarm as the TPP snakes toward passage.

In a statement on Tuesday, Alfred de Zayas, a U.N. independent expert on democratic international order, decried the TPP as "fundamentally flawed" and "based on an old model of trade agreements that is out of step with today’s international human rights regime."

Highlighting widespread opposition to the agreement, de Zayas added: "If a public referendum were held in all twelve countries concerned, it will be solidly rejected."

And should the TPP eventually be put into force, he concluded, "its compatibility with international law should be challenged before the International Court of Justice."

Slamming the deal as "a new low" and "a giveaway to Big Pharma" that would "take a sledgehammer to American manufacturing," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka declared in an op-ed published Tuesday:

The final text of the agreement, released in November, is even worse than we imagined, with loopholes in labor enforcement and rewards for outsourcing. Like its predecessor agreements NAFTA and CAFTA, the TPP is a giveaway to big corporations, special interests and all those who want economic rules that benefit the wealthy few. It is no wonder the presidential front-runners from both political parties oppose it.

[...] We’ve been down this road before. The Wall Street and Washington elite always tell us that this time will be different. The truth is these trade deals have ripped apart the fabric of our nation. We see the shuttered factories. We visit towns that look like they are stuck in the past. We talk to the workers who lost everything, only to be told they should retrain in another field — but Congress has been slow to fund and authorize those programs. From NAFTA to CAFTA to Korea and now the TPP, these agreements have continually put profits over people. By driving down our wages, they make our economy weaker, not stronger.

"If countries are serious about addressing the climate crisis, they need to stand up to coal, oil and gas companies, not reward them with new rights and privileges."
—Payal Parekh, 350.org

Meanwhile, climate group 350.org reiterated on Wednesday how the TPP "would give dangerous new powers to the fossil fuel industry."

"The TPP is a fossil fuel industry handout," said Payal Parekh, 350.org global managing director. "This partnership in pollution gives corporations the right to challenge any local government or community that tries to keep fossil fuels in the ground."

What's more, Parekh added, the deal "makes a mockery of the climate agreement decided in Paris last December. If countries are serious about addressing the climate crisis, they need to stand up to coal, oil and gas companies, not reward them with new rights and privileges."

While U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters on Tuesday that "momentum for passage is growing," The Hill reports Wednesday that with support waning among Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike, TPP backers face an uphill climb on Capitol Hill.

According to The Hill, AFL-CIO's Trumka and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), both vocal opponents of the agreement, are joining MoveOn in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to deliver 1 million petitions calling on Congress to reject the agreement.

And on Thursday—World Cancer Day—healthcare professionals and cancer patients will risk arrest outside the headquarters of PhRMA, a trade association representing brand-name pharmaceutical companies that pushed for expanded monopolies in the TPP, to dramatize what they are calling the "TPP Death Sentence."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo