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Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Lauren Steiner (Photo: Mike Chickey)

On Thursday, around 50 people attended a press conference and rally to tell Hillary Clinton to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with 12 countries consisting of 40% of the world's trade. The TPP fast track bill has been scheduled for a vote in the Senate this coming Tuesday. The protesters urged Clinton to come out against the TPP, the trade agreement she touted while she was Secretary of State, calling it "the gold standard in trade agreements."

However, after waiting an hour past the start time for Hillary to show up, the protesters realized that she had taken a five-mile detour to another entrance to the gated community where her fundraiser was held just to avoid being dogged by protesters.

Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Rabbi Johnathan Klein From CLUE (Photo: Barry Levine)

Mark Morris, one of the protest organizers, read the remarks of Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch, who could not be there in person. Mirisch expressed concern about the subversion of local laws to unaccountable corporate trade tribunals, the lack of enforceable human rights provisions in the bill and the secrecy of the negotiations:

"Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate trade. They should not be handing it over to the president. Right now, if Congress even wants to see the 2000-plus page agreement, they are ushered into this room in a basement; they can't bring an staff member with expertise; they cannot take notes; and they are forbidden from talking about anything they read. This kind of cloak and dagger stuff should be reserved for national security not the protection of corporate profits."

Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Jack Eidt from 350.org (Photo: Barry Levine)

Representing Expose the TPP-USA, I spoke about my family's clothing manufacturing business started by my grandfather during the Depression, which went from employing International Ladies Garment Workers Union members in the North, to employing hundred of workers in several factories in the South, to moving to Mexico after NAFTA, and then to China after the WTO, and finally liquidating the business:

"My father's factories were just a few of the 57,000 shuttered in this country since NAFTA. His workers were just a few hundred of the 5 million who lost their jobs. If the TPP passes, more factories will close and millions more workers will lose their jobs. On behalf of those factory owners and workers, I urge Hillary Clinton to oppose the TPP and Fast Track."

Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Zuri Allen from the Organic Consumers Association (Barry Levine)

Arturo Carmona, Executive Director of Presente.org, spoke about the affect of these treaties on Latinos in the US and other countries:

“The TPP would be a disaster for Latinos across the Americas. Free trade agreements have destroyed the economies of many Latin American countries, driving our communities north in search of work into America to face xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments. And once in the US, so many Latinos are relegated to working in low wage service industry jobs and are subjected to poor working conditions and wage theft. ”

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Zuri Allen from the Organic Consumers Association addressed how the TPP would affect food safety and GMO labeling laws:

“Consumers across the U.S. are fighting for the right to know what is in the food they eat and feed their families, but the fast track would make it even harder to get these labels. We are very concerned about Hillary Clinton's involvement with biotech interests and the fast track. This process will weaken imported food inspection and labeling laws only to satisfy the corporate interests who are writing these trade deals."

Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Danza Mexica Quactemoc (Photo: Mike Chickey)

Jack Eidt, Organizer with So Cal Climate Action Coalition/350.org spoke about the affect of the TPP on environment regulations:

“Foreign fossil fuel corporations love free trade deals, and just forget about our ongoing drought, record-setting heat waves, and collapse of the Pacific Ocean ecosystem. TPP would sabotage our efforts to cut climate-disrupting greenhouse gases, ban fracking, and reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by allowing corporations the right to sue governments to protect their profits in private trade courts. Instead of transitioning to a clean energy economy, TPP would extend our fossil fuel addiction for decades and export our coal, crude oil and fracked natural gas to the world.”

Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (C.L.U.E.), spoke of his work as an animal rights activist and said "laws making it illegal to videotape what goes on behind the walls of factory farms are exactly what would would be seeing with the TPP...This affects not just the 99% but the 99.999%. The only people who won't be affected are the ones who have the ability to go to space and live there for the rest of their lives."

Finally, Darrin Thompson, rank and file member of the Communications Workers of America, CWA, related how the opportunities he had to get a low cost education and a well paying union job with benefits are fading fast for the average American:

"The decent jobs that support our communities, social services and local economies have faded away. Our children have little hope and confidence in what was once a great and just society. These are our realities, you know, the people on Main St. The results of Wall St’s record breaking highs are in direct contrast to Main St’s, record breaking lows."

Hillary TPP Beverly Hills

Photo: Mike Chickey

After the rally, we watched a couple of dances from an Aztec dance troupe, Danza Mexica Quactemoc, who then marched with us a half a mile to the corner of the street leading to the gated community where the fundraiser was being held. For 90 minutes, we chanted and waved signs and enjoyed supportive honks and high fives from rush hour commuters.

But an hour after the fundraiser was set to begin, we realized that Hillary must have taken that detour into the gated community. So, the woman who is trying to position herself as a supporter of the middle class, spent the entire day behind closed doors raising $2700 donations from the 1% and conducting meetings with people who would be prepared to give and bundle donations ten times that amount to her Super Pac. But she was afraid to drive by 50 average Joes asking her to take a stand on one of the most important bills to come before Congress in a decade. This does not bode well for how she would govern if elected President.

If you would like to stop this global corporate coup d'etat, call Senators Boxer and Feinstein on Monday. Neither of them have committed to voting no on fast track when it comes before then on Tuesday.

Lauren Steiner

Lauren Steiner

Lauren Steiner