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.
Read our official statement on the Farm Bill released by the Conference Committee last night.
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.email@example.com
As the House and Senate Conferees are slated to begin conferencing the 2013 farm bill on Wednesday, October 30, the NFFC Dairy Subcommittee will convene a tele-press call on Tuesday, October 29, at 1 PM EDT/10AM PDT.
Dairy farmers and representatives from consumer and dairy-related businesses from will describe the impacts of the current economic crisis, as well as the potential outcomes from the 2013 farm bill, on farmers, their families, rural communities, and consumers.
Arden Tewksbury of Pennsylvania and Dairy Subcommittee chair stated,
“The dairy provisions contained in the proposed new Farm Bill does nothing to enable dairy farmers to earn a fair price for their milk. We are hopeful that Part II of the Dairy Title of S. 954 – the Senate version of the farm bill – will be retained during conference. This section, Dairy Market Transparency, calls for mandatory price reporting, and Section 1462 outlines a procedure for USDA to hold hearings on the future for federal milk marketing orders for Class III pricing. This gives us some hope that changes could be adopted in the future.”
Tele-press conference details:
Date: Tuesday, October 29
Time: 1 PM EDT/12 noon CDT/11 AM MDT/ 10 AM PDT
How: Please call (202) 543-5675 for the toll-free call-in information or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who: Dairy farmers with representatives from a consumer organization and related business
Why: To learn the effects of the economic crisis and potential ramifications of the 2013 farm bill on farmers, rural communities and consumers’ food safety
For more information, please call Kathy Ozer at (202) 543-5675.
June 20, 2012 — Peasants of the world mobilize against green capitalism in Rio. About 3000 people from around the world will mobilize to say NO to the commodification of life and nature at the Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice and in Defense of the Commons. Read the full press release here.
April 26, 2012 — USDA receives over 365,000 public comments opposing approval of 2,4-D-resistant, genetically-engineered corn. Over 140 groups and more than 365,000 citizens from across the country are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reject a Dow Chemical application seeking approval of a controversial genetically engineered (GE) corn that is resistant to the hazardous herbicide 2,4-D. Read the full press release here
April 4, 2012 — The day that biotech giant Monsanto released its second quarter earnings, a new report (click here) by La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International and Combat Monsanto shows that around the world small-holder and organic farmers, local communities and social movements are increasingly resisting and rejecting Monsanto, and the agro-industrial model that it represents. Read the full press release here.
ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSE PENDING FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS – Fair Trade, Not Free Trade, Should Be Basis of Food and Agriculture System. The National Family Farm Coalition and 56 allied organizations representing family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and advocates signed a letter to Congress condemning the pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. As the letter states, more FTAs will only accelerate the economic disasters in agriculture already at hand, including industrial farms dependent on massive amounts of petroleum-based inputs, low-paying, exploitative jobs in processing and packing plants, and increased consolidation throughout the agricultural supply chain. Read the letter here.