This week has been a jam packed week here in DC. In addition to the Appropriations process and a few conferences (more on those later), the fifth round of negotiations for the EU-US trade deal (TAFTA, the TransAtlantic Free Trade Agreement, or TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) happened on the George Mason University School of Law campus.
As part of our work through the Citizens Trade Campaign, we participated in a press conference to highlight some of our concerns including the need for transparency, preservation of our safeguards and sovereignty. Here are some photos from the press conference.
Kathy also spoke specifically on food safety and procurement issues. Please read our press release here.
More photos can be found here. We also live tweeted as much as we could from the rally and from the stakeholder day (@FamilyFarmCo #SaveOurSafeguards #ExposeTAFTA #TAFTA). Kathy, along with a number of allies in CTC, presented and took questions from negotiators and industry representatives present.
Based on recent news coverage and statements made during the stakeholder day, it is clear that TAFTA’s momentum is slowing. The harmonization of regulations process was widely discussed. There are concerns the harmonization process will weaken regulations both here and in the EU and create a system, through the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), that will severely hinder federal, state, and local regulations in the future. The biggest factor affecting TAFTA seems to be the likelihood with which Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, the “new” Fast Track) will pass through Congress. Given the upcoming election cycle, it will either happen before July or not until the lame duck session. If TPA passes, Congress will effectively abdicate it’s constitutional role to control our foreign trade policy and both TAFTA and the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) will be handled exclusively by the Executive Office and the USTR. (If TPA doesn’t pass, TAFTA and TPP will be, more or less, dead in the water.) We still have one final fail safe with TAFTA – each member of the European Union has to agree to it. Given the current political situation in Germany, among other countries, it may become politically impossible for TAFTA to be ratified, restarting the whole process.
We at NFFC are staying up to date on this process and will continue to update here and in our newsletter.
One hundred sixty eight organizations across the country signed onto a letter asking the House Appropriations Committee to oppose policy riders that inhibit GIPSA’s regulation and implementation authority.
Please read the House anti-GIPSA rider letter here.
One hundred seventy-nine organizations signed onto a letter asking the House Appropriations committee to reject attempts to defund COOL through policy riders.
Please read the House Appropriations COOL letter here.
Forty-five organizations signed on to a letter urging Senators Pryor and Blunt to fully fund programs for veterans who are now in agriculture and the Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison office during the current appropriations process.
Please read the Sign-on Letter for Veterans issues here.
Please read our sign-on letter on the House Appropriations process. This letter was written by members of the Getting Our Act Together group, including the Rural Coalition, Community Food & Justice Coalition, Farmers Veteran Coalition, Federation of Southern Cooperatives Rural Training and Research Center, National Alliance of Farmworker Women, National Hmong American Farmers, Inc., National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project. This letter was submitted on April 1st, 2014.
Read our official statement on the Farm Bill released by the Conference Committee last night.
Ninety six organizations signed on to this letter advocating that no changes be made to country of origin labeling (COOL) rules during the 2014 Farm Bill Conference. Please read it here 2014 Farm Bill Conferee COOL Letter
As Federal Labor Board Confirms Walmart Broke the Law and California Court Names Walmart in Massive Wage Theft Lawsuit,
OUR WALMART, SUPPLY CHAIN AND WAREHOUSE WORKERS RENEW CALLS FOR IMPROVING JOBS AT WALMART
Group Calls Walmart’s Sign on to Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program a Win for Workers; Demands Company Do More to Improve Wages and Treatment of Workers
WASHINGTON – Following the federal Labor Board’s landmark decision to prosecute Walmart for its aggressive violations of workers’ rights in 14 states and a decision by a California court to name Walmart in a massive wage theft lawsuit at warehouses, OUR Walmart members and supporters nationwide are renewing their calls for the company to improve jobs.
OUR Walmart member Martha Sellers who works at Walmart in Paramount, CA said:
“Walmart must publicly commit to increase wages and improve working conditions for the hundreds of thousands of us who work in Walmart’s retail stores, warehouses, global supply chain, food processing plants and those who harvest food. As the largest retailer and employer in the country and the world, Walmart can have an impact on strengthening the US and global economy by improving jobs.
“Farm workers harvesting food for Walmart will no doubt benefit from the increase in wages that will result from the company signing onto the Coalition for Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program, but the company must continue to improve wages and jobs for all of the workers that help Walmart profit.
“Even though Walmart is making $17 billion in annual profits and the Walton family has a combined wealth of $144.7 billion, the company has not taken any meaningful steps to improve jobs despite the unprecedented growing calls by workers and communities across the globe. Instead, workers like me are paid less than $25,000 a year and can’t get the full time hours we need. And other workers in warehouses and the supply chain are also facing horrific safety conditions at work.
“Walmart must continue in a direction of listening to the workers that are helping the company profit. We hope that new company CEO Doug McMillon will do more to hear from workers about improving jobs and customer service so that together we can help Walmart succeed.”
Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board issued the largest-ever complaint against Walmart for breaking federal labor law by violating workers’ rights. The complaint alleges Walmart illegally fired and disciplined more than 60 workers in 14 states, including those who went on strike last June to speak out for better jobs. The complaint—the largest ever against Walmart in both size and scale—names 63 individual store managers and company spokesperson and vice president of communication David Tovar’s illegal threats made to employees.
In California, Walmart was just named as a joint employer in a major California warehouse operation where workers have alleged in court that they have had millions of dollars of their wages stolen.
In its treatment of workers at factories overseas, Walmart is also falling short on ensuring safe working conditions and fair pay:
- To date Walmart has still refused to compensate victims of the Tazreen & Rana Plaza deadly tragedies despite incontrovertible evidence that these locations were producing garments for Walmart stores.
- Walmart has also refused to sign the Accord in Bangladesh, which has been signed by more than 70 other major retailers, that will help ensure no further tragedies.
- Walmart has yet to ensure that the use of forced labor & abuse of guest workers will not take place in suppliers in the US, as had occurred in 2012 with workers of a Louisiana seafood supplier.
Kimi Lee, National Coordinator of the United Workers Congress said:
“Given that Walmart is the largest private employer on the globe and in the US, Walmart bears the highest responsibility in ensuring that those who are a part of making Walmart successful are able to successfully take care of themselves and their families, which for hundreds of thousands is not currently possible.
“Together, we are calling on Walmart to immediately raise standards and improve working conditions for the millions of workers who work in Walmart’s retail stores, warehouses, global supply chain, food processing plants and those who harvest food destined for Walmart shelves.”
The above is a press release from OUR Walmart, Jobs With Justice, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, National Guestworkers Alliance, National Family Farm Coalition, United Farm Workers, United Workers Congress and Warehouse Workers United .
Giovanna Frank-Vitale 646.200.5334, Giovanna.firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter to the USTR on US opposition to WTO proposals from developing countries to address their food security objectives and to allow for greater public spending to ensure more stable food supplies and prices.
Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement a Framework for the Future (01.26.10) – The faith, labor, family farm, consumer, environmental, human rights and social justice organizations within Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) wrote Obama urging him to enact meaningful trade reform as his administration enters into negotiations for a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP). To learn more about the TPP, visit www.citizenstrade.org/tpp.php.