Congress must reject fast-track authority

Last week, legislation calling for fast-track authorization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements was introduced to Congress. If passed, this would be NAFTA on steroids and would be devastating to American jobs and our economy.

Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe and the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives.

Vietnam, a nation of 90 million people, is a party to the TPP negotiations. The minimum wage in Vietnam is 28 cents an hour, and the average hourly wage is 75 cents. Vietnam has a record of non-existent workers’ rights and an extensive roster of human rights violations, including the use of child labor.

It is critical that we work to stop the global race to the bottom that has been the result of old-style trade agreements. As a nation, we strive to improve our standard of living and provide a better life for our children and grandchildren. We should not compromise on these values and reduce the quality of life for Americans through our trade policies.

Fast track means that our elected officials cannot study the bills or make changes; it is simply a force-fed way of getting this TPP rammed down our throats. We need to contact our elected members of Congress and ask them not to support this fast-track idea on TPP.

Michael J. Rusinek