by Scott Morrow, President DMAL Retiree Chapter
I have been working hard at sounding the warning sirens over SHAFTA (Southern Hemisphere Asian Free Trade Agreement) aka TPP or Trans Pacific Partnership for many months. This treaty dressed in the charade of a trade agreement has been negotiated in secret by about 500 of the most affluent monopolies worldwide with no input from Unions, Retirees or any other stakeholders. If passed, SHAFTA will encompass 40% of the entire global economies’.
SHAFTA contains 30 chapters (four on actual trade) enumerating 1939 pages plus 17 “side” documents. The shortest chapters (four or less pages) are small business, regulatory coherence, transparency and corruption. While the USA Trade Department has the agreement posted I found their site to be cumbersome and very unreliable to link to. My source is the New Zealand Site since they posted before anyone else: http://tpp.mfat.govt.nz/text
Obviously as I write there was hardly time to review 1939 pages of legalese much less digest them. I was concerned about losing millions more of good American Jobs and the final destruction of our Union Movement so I started with Chapter 19; Labour. It will be insurmountable for Union workers here to compete with the 65 cents an hour minimum wage in Vietnam but impossible to compete with the sanctioned slave labor in Malaysia. It was appalling to see that this slave labor trade can continue under SHAFTA as slave labor will be “discouraged” (but not prohibited) by the treaty members.
Most alarming for me as the President of the only APWU Retiree Chapter chartered in Colorado was the fact that if SHAFTA passes, it will be at least 25 years before our members will be able to access less expensive generic equivalent new life saving drugs. American Retirees’ already face the highest medicine prescription costs in the world, many marked up 10,000% to enrich the drug monopolies. SHAFTA makes this even worse, makes drugs more expensive and for longer periods. The nuts and bolts can be reviewed in the longest SHAFTA Chapter, 18, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. It is 74 pages long with only one purpose. To insure the largest possible profits for the economic royalists at the expense of the working and retired classes. Patent extensions on drugs alone will result in an untold number of premature deaths should SHAFTA pass.
The Campaign for America’s Future summed SHAFTA up this way, “It means drug companies will be able to extend their monopoly pricing over new, life-saving drugs, often built on research paid for by taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health.
New cancer treatments, vaccines and even a cure for HIV could be put out of reach to all but the affluent because this trade deal would allow the pharmaceutical companies to price them for profit, not for people – and keep competing generic drugs off the market longer.
It gets worse. Foreign banks will have the ability to challenge and even overturn our financial regulations. The TPP will send jobs overseas, push wages down, weaken unions and make it harder to protect our environment.”
SHAFTA WILL negatively affect every person reading this article! If you have been sitting on the sidelines or for those who regularly contact your Senators and House Representative, now is the time to make contact at least every week. This is not a sporting event or a game; this is our future and the future of our children and grandchildren. For those I represent, it may represent the difference between life and death.
We have 90 days or less to convince Congress to vote NO on SHAFTA. Let us get started right now and keep the heat on right up until February of 2016. We cannot kill SHAFTA without you.