Photos: Free Trade Deal Gets Bipartisan ‘Boo’ at City Hall

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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, with Rep. Eliot Engel at left and State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Jesse Hamilton at right.

Lelosa Imasuen

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, with Rep. Eliot Engel at left and State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Jesse Hamilton at right.

The city’s Congressional delegation—joined by other elected officials—held a City Hall press conference on Thursday to discuss their concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which they say would limit state and local control of public health, environmental protection, consumer rights and economic development.

The TPP is a trade deal being considered by Congress that would rewrite the rules for trade among the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand. The Obama administration, which negotiated the deal, says it will “help increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class.” Opponents like Public Citizen say the deal will “make it easier for big corporations to ship our jobs overseas, pushing down our wages and increasing income inequality” and “flood our country with unsafe imported food,” among other things.

In the City Hall rotunda on Thursday, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez said that if the TTP agreement is approved, some estimates shows that the U.S. would lose hundreds of thousands of jobs. “We have to learn from mistakes in our past” added Congresswoman Grace Meng, who contends that New York lost more than half of its manufacturing jobs since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in the 1990s.

“In our country we want skilled, well-paid workers to make a product for our consumer safety and for the quality of the product we are purchasing,” said Congressman Daniel Donovan, Jr., who represents Staten Island and sliver of Brooklyn and is the only Republican in the city’s Washington delegation. Asking U.S. workers making decent wages with benefits to compete with foreign workers getting paid $3 an hour is “not fair to our worker” says Donovan Jr. “…and that’s certainly not fair to our consumers.”

Trade unions strongly oppose the deal.

Lelosa Imasuen

Trade unions strongly oppose the deal.

Sen. Hamilton, of Brooklyn.

Lelosa Imasuen

Sen. Hamilton, of Brooklyn.

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