Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Delegates protest the TPP on the DNC floor. (Photo: AP)

Delegates protest the TPP on the DNC floor. (Photo: AP)

As Clinton Readies for Nomination, Unions Hope It's Zero Hour for TPP

'I would like for her to articulate who she will be as president as the United States'

Nadia Prupis

As Hillary Clinton prepares to accept the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday night, labor unions are ready to demand that she put an end to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a longstanding point of contention for her campaign.

Publicly shutting down the controversial 12-nation trade deal could keep lawmakers from introducing it to U.S. Congress in the lame duck session, which Clinton has said she opposes and which her former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has said would be "going against the will of the people." Moreover, it would require breaking with President Barack Obama, who supports it.

And that's exactly what union leaders are looking for.

"I would like for her to finish this whole debate about TPP, that would be very important for us. I would like for her to articulate who she will be as president as the United States," Dennis Williams, president of United Auto Workers, told The Hill on Thursday.

The final push in the labor movement's anti-TPP campaign comes amid a week of controversy over Clinton's position on the trade deal. Although the former secretary of state has said she opposes the deal, her longtime ally Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe indicated several times that Clinton would support it if certain changes were made.

On Thursday, McAuliffe clarified his comments for the third time, telling a closed-door meeting of Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates that "Hillary is against TPP and she is always gonna stay against TPP. Let me be crystal clear about that."

But unions are still waiting to hear it from Clinton. Robert Martinez, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told The Hill, "I'd like to hear her come out and say she's strongly against trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership."

The Hill continues:

Unions feel they have strong leverage this week as the Clinton campaign has made it a top priority to win over liberals allied with her primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and many of them also feel strongly about killing the TPP.

They have met with lawmakers and delegations from across the country to ensure there aren't any Democratic defections after the election in case Republican leaders try to bring the trade deal to the floor in December.

"Lots of them—House members, Senate members, governors—I've met with the delegations and the delegations are doing the same. We've armed them with the facts and they're going out to their [Senate and House] members," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told the outlet.

Delegates and voters allied with Sanders were disappointed with Clinton's choice of a pro-TPP vice president, although Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has come out against the deal since being tapped. Others noted that he also supported anti-union legislation while serving as governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010.

Trumka sought to assure skeptics that Kaine would follow Clinton's lead on the trade deal, stating, "I know where Hillary's at and I know where Tim Kaine's going to be at. Tim Kaine's going to be right where the president's at," he said. "All she's got to say is what she's been saying: She's against TPP."

But that wasn't enough for many people feeling disillusioned with the 2016 election, which has been rife with conflict between progressive and establishment Democrats. As Dave Johnson writes at Campaign for America's Future, "Here's the thing. It doesn't matter whether Clinton, Kaine and others oppose TPP and globalization in their hearts. What matters is what they will do. They are more and more on the record, even it if is only that they want to win. This puts more and more pressure on them not to support TPP vote after the election."

To that end, the activist group MoveOn launched a petition calling on Clinton and Kaine to "clarify and amplify their opposition to the TPP, including in their speeches at the DNC."

On Wednesday, as Obama addressed the convention, numerous delegations waved massive signs with the letters "TPP" enclosed in a red circle with a line slashed through it. Closer to the stage, others unfurled a banner that read, "TPP Kills Democracy."

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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Exactly Right': Progressives Back Arizona Dems Censure of Sinema

"If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens... then there's a problem," said Rep. Ro Khanna.

Brett Wilkins ·

Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·

Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·

Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·

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