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Nail Fast Track Now!

by The Weaver Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2001 at 8:36 AM

NOW'S THE TIME to bring pressure to bear directly on Congress to stop fast track legislation. They know that lots of people have been out in the street against the FTAA. They need to hear the same message from us as "ordinary constiuents." Background information and actions/instructions provided.



"Fast Track" legislation that would give the President authority to negotiate trade agreements for the next six years is now before Congress. If Fast Track is passed, the President would present completed agreement to Congress for a simple up-down vote without the possibility of amendments and with limited debate. Fast Track would give President Bush the authority to negotiate the most important international agreement of our generation, the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The FTAA, often called NAFTA for the entire hemisphere, would enshrine the corporate agenda in an international legal framework, giving corporations many new legal rights at the expense of working people and the environment.

For the month of August, members of Congress will be on recess in their home districts. Join the national mobilization for fair trade and against corporate globalization and tell your Representative to vote NO! on Fast Track! Big Business is pulling out the stops in lobbying for Fast Track, but if your member of Congress gets enough pressure from the people, they will quickly change their mind about supporting Fast Track and NAFTA expansion. Action in your community against Fast Track would also be an excellent way to link local and global struggles.


Join activists from around the country to tell Congress to reject Fast Track and reject Bush's corporate free trade agenda. Take action in your community on August 13 to put pressure on your member of Congress while they're in their home district. Tell them to vote NO! on Fast Track. Then follow up the day of action by keeping the pressure on your Representative for the duration of the August recess, which runs until September 4.

Here are suggestions and ideas for action:

-If your Representative is undecided on Fast Track, organize a rally "for fair trade - not free trade" outside their district office - and send a delegation in to meet with the representative demanding they oppose Fast Track.

-If your representative is in favor of Fast Track, stage a protest at their district office! Let the community know exactly what their representative is supporting, and maybe your member of Congress will think twice!

Other ideas: attend "Town Hall meetings" that your Representative hosts during the month of August and make them explain in front of voters why they support or have not actively opposed Fast Track. Bird-dog them at other events they are attending. Flood the district and Washington DC office with calls.

The AFL-CIO has generously offered a 1-800 number so that as many activists and union members as possible can call their Representatives. Just call, 1-800-393-1082 to push your Representative to say "NO" to Fast Track.

To find out where your Representative stands on Fast Track and NAFTA expansion, call their office and ask to speak to the aide who deals with trade issues. For contact information go to www.congress.org. For more information about Fast Track go to www.ssc.org.

Please find enclosed in this packet:

(1) "The Facts on Fast Track," a summary of the dangers of Fast Track if it is passed by congress.

(2) Talking points and a sample script for calls to your Representative.

The A-13 Call to Action is Endorsed by: Sierra Student Coalition, Public Citizen, Student Alliance to Reform Corporations, Communications Workers of America, Jobs With Justice, Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America, Mexico Solidarity Network, Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign, Global Exchange, Sacramento Activists for Democratic Trade, Madison Fair Trade Action Alliance, People for Fair Trade (WA)

For More Information see:



The Facts on Fast Track:

On June 13, Representative Philip Crane (R-IL) introduced Fast Track legislation (HR-2149) in the House of Representatives. Promoted under the blander name of "Trade Promotion Authority," HR-2149 would provide the President with authority to negotiate trade treaties for the next six years.. Finished treaties would be presented to Congress for a simply up-down vote with extremely limited debate, threatening the very foundations of our democracy.

Fast Track undermines democracy and gives away basic rights: * The President would have the authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries, AND to sign the U.S. onto them before Congress even sees them.

* When Congress finally gets to see the finished agreement, debate about the pros and cons of the deal -- critical to an informed decision -- is strictly limited.

* Congress is not allowed to amend the agreements. They must take an up or down vote. They can be forced to choose between a bad deal or no deal at all, instead of seeking a compromise that could benefit everyone.

Fast Track threatens the very foundations of democracy. If passed, it will be used to accelerate negotiations on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). FTAA has been described as the expansion of NAFTA to the entire Western Hemisphere (except Cuba). If this Fast Track (or Trade Promotion Authority) bill passes, it will be a devastating blow to workers and labor rights around the world. This bill will allow the "free" trade agenda to be pushed through Congress with no real barriers. And since congressional amendments are not allowed, there will be no way to protect workers and the environment if President Bush wins Fast Track authority.

Trade treaties have been in vogue over the past decade, particularly among transnational corporations and their political supporters, to such an extent that many refer to this as a "constitutional" moment. These treaties are an attempt to enshrine the corporate agenda in a legal framework. Trade treaties no longer deal only with tariffs. They touch every part of our lives, from privatization of services to basic workers' rights to environmental protection. So far the results have been disastrous for working people around the world.

We need look no further than the failed NAFTA experiment. The statistics are sobering. Since 1994, the United States lost about 700,000 jobs, mainly union jobs from the industrial sector. On average, the unemployed found new jobs that paid only 70% of their previous wages, forcing them to either lower their standard of living or look for a second job.

Most of these jobs went to maquiladora plants in Mexico, where wages average about a dollar an hour, below the poverty level even by Mexico's standards.

At the same time, Mexico lost over two million jobs - about a million in the agricultural sector where small and medium producers can't compete with highly subsidized US corporate farms, and about a million in the small business sector where the local taco vender can't compete with Taco Bell and the local hardware store can't compete with WalMart. The results are devastating. More than half of the Mexican population lives below the poverty level, an increase from the 1980's when the "free trade" model first took hold, and workers have lost nearly 30% of their purchasing power since NAFTA went into effect in 1994.

In El Salvador, the free-trade model is equally deveastating: un/under employment is over 65%; over 80% of families can not cover their most basic needs; and 25% of El Salvador's population is still homeless after this year's earthquakes. A proposed NAFTA style free trade agreement for Central America with the U.S. and the FTAA will only make social and economic conditions worse. The people of El Salvador want an alternative to corporate globalization, but "Fast Track" and upcoming US trade legislation could prevent that. Their alternative model puts the needs of the people above corporate profits and is supported by Salvadoran unions, peasant associations, youth and women's groups, and the FMLN.

Now the "free" trade agenda is being pushed to a new level under the FTAA. Fast Track is a tactic used by corporate heads and government officials to push the FTAA through, while eliminating democratic debate.

With this kind of record, it's not surprising that the current Fast Track bill explicitly prohibits the inclusion of labor, not to mention environmental, agreements in trade treaties.


Fast Track talking points and call script

What do you want your Representative to do?

1. Oppose Fast Track. We're demanding opposition to any Fast Track bill, including the Crane Bill currently in the House (HR 2149). Fast Track is fundamentally undemocratic, and we disagree with it, even if it has labor and environmental standards written into its text.

2. Send a written response to your call. Be sure to speak with the staff person who works on trade issues at your Representative's office. Don't leave your message with the receptionist, as your opinion will not be tallied. Give the person you speak with your home address, and be sure to request a written response to your call-otherwise, your opinion may not be "tallied."


Ask to speak to the member of the staff who does trade matters.

Hi, this is ---(your name)---, and I want to know Representative __________'s position on Fast Track. Is Representative __________opposed to the Crane Bill, HR 2149? What about other forms of Fast Track?

It is important to me that Representative ___________ take a strong stance against all forms of Fast Track, the Crane Bill and any other that may be introduced into Congress.

Please send me a written response with the member's position to these crucial questions. Working families are counting on the strong support of every Representative. As a constituent, I will be watching this vote closely.

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