Monday, April 20, 2015

Thomas Perez on TPP

To my mind, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is the most unacknowledged liberal champion in the Obama administration. I followed him closely during his years as head of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ as he resurrected and reformed that department following it's demise under the previous Bush administration. He has also been doing some amazing work at the Department of Labor lately.

And so, when Greg Sargent interviews Sec. Perez about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement - you bet I'm going to pay attention.
THE PLUM LINE: There’s a tremendous amount of suspicion about trade deals. Prior trade deals didn’t raise wages or bargaining rights. What specifically will be in TPP that is somehow different from these other deals, from the point of view of the standard of living of American workers?

THOMAS PEREZ: I share the skepticism that my friends have about NAFTA. It was woefully weak in protecting workers and on the enforcement side. The question is: Can we meaningfully build a trade regime that has as its North Star protecting American workers and American jobs through meaningful enforcement? I think we can. It’s imperative that we not default to the status quo, which would mean we don’t fix NAFTA.

We have to bake labor provisions into the core of an agreement. TPP would do that. Under NAFTA, countries had to simply promise to uphold the laws of their own nations. Now the provisions baked into TPP are: You must enact or make sure you have already in place meaningful labor protections, such as the freedom of association, health and safety, acceptable conditions of work.
Did you catch that? If you don't like NAFTA, we need to fix it with TPP. That kind of turns the whole progressive argument on its head, doesn't it?

Sargent goes on to ask Perez about most of the issues the opponents of TPP have brought up. So I'd suggest that you go read the whole thing.

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