Activists call for increased transparency in Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations

Today dozens of protesters gathered outside of the Office of the US Trade Representative in Washington, DC, where secret negotiations are taking place on the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership.  FSRN’s Noelle Galos reports.

“Human rights are what we need, it’s time to flush the TPP!” [chanting]

On bustling 17th Street, protesters chanted and preformed street theater to demand transparency from the countries negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus of Friend of the Earth US, told FSRN that he’s concerned about the quick pace the trade deal is being pushed through.

“Fast tracking is dangerous because if these are so wonderful for people, why aren’t we debating them? What are we afraid of? It’s only when you have something to hide, and what they have to hide are special deals for the most outrageous, un-responsible corporations that pollute the planet.”

The TPP is considered the “cornerstone” of the Obama Administration’s Asia-Pacific economic policy and the Trade Representative has pledged to keep Americans “informed and involved” in the negotiations.  But opponents counter that this isn’t happening.  They say the trade agreement threatens the environment and public health in the US.  TPP members include the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile on the eastern side of the Pacific, and Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei [broo-NYE] on the west.  Environmental, labor, and other groups fear that the TPP will eventually expand far beyond the 12 original signatories.  Noelle Galos, FSRN, Washington, DC.

Download or listen here.

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Wal-Mart workers protest retaliation across United States

Today, Wal-Mart workers in 15 cities across the US are gathering to protest low wages, poor working conditions, and alleged retaliation by the company against workers who participated in federally-protected strikes.  FSRN’s Noelle Galos reports from Washington, DC.

Walmart protest sign in Chicago courtesy of @changewalmart

Walmart protest sign in Chicago courtesy of @changewalmart

Wal-Mart employees began walking off the job in protest last year, culminating in a Black Friday action that drew thousands of workers and their supporters.  But organizers say the multi-national company has retaliated.

Former Wal-Mark associate Tonya C., who asked that her last name be withheld because of an unrelated legal matter, was fired from her position at a Laurel, Maryland location.

“They retaliated against me and fired me illegally, to keep me from speaking and telling stories.”

To date, Wal-Mart has denied that it behaved inappropriately.

In June, Wal-Mart workers gathered at the company headquarters in DC.  Protesters carried more than 180,000 petitions, but were blocked from entering the building, leading to a sit-in and the arrest of 10 people.

Organizers with OUR Wal-Mart are billing today’s national action as the largest since Black Friday.  They say police arrested three workers in New York City this morning.  Noelle Galos, FSRN, Washington, DC.

Listen to or download audio file here.