Linn and Benton County members of the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment (ASJE), together with the Corvallis Action on Globalization, are working overtime to defeat the latest legislation advancing the corporate-led globalization that has been the source of so much conflict around the world. On Monday, July 30th, the two groups presented a resolution to oppose FAST TRACK and FTAA to the Corvallis city council for ratification and endorsement.
Fast Track legislation, expected to be voted on soon in the US House of Representatives, transfers Constitutional authority to regulate trade from the Congress to the Executive Branch. It gives President Bush the authority to negotiate trade agreements and then submit them to Congress for an up or down vote, with no possibility for amendments.
"Fast Track legislation makes it easier for President Bush to push bad trade agreements, such as the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, through Congress without the usual input and scrutiny that we would expect on such contentious issues," says Ryan Hunter, Trade Organizer for ASJE.
Such sentiments are mobilizing local citizens to send a message to Oregon's Congressional delegation that they don't want Fast Track authority for President Bush or the Free Trade Area of the Americas. They are hoping that a resolution they submitted to the Corvallis City Council will help send that message. The resolution states that the City Council opposes the FTAA and Fast Track legislation. The resolution's proponents hope that, if passed, it will demonstrate to Congressional members that there is growing concern even among elected officials over the impacts of free trade agreements on our societies.
"These trade agreements give corporations the right to sue governments for compensation due to public interest legislation, such as public health standards, that cut into their profits. The effective result is that local, state and national governments either overturn such legislation or don't enact them in the first place for fear of having to pay large compensation claims that come out of the taxpayer's pockets. I think that should be of great concern to our City Council." says Robert Gourley, a local labor activist and member of ASJE.
The groups are also planning on holding a town hall to discuss the issues on August 23rd at the Corvallis-Benton County Library. There is a neighbor-to-neighbor get together from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM and at 7:00 the town hall meeting will start. Bill Lunch will be the moderator. They have invited Congressional Representatives, State legislators and local politicians with the hope of it being an informative session for all involved.
For more information, please contact local members of Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, Contact: Robert Gourley - (541) 908-1895 or Bridget Barry - (541)753-7694
Corvallis Action on Globalization (CAG) has been formed to carry forward the energy generated in Seattle at the end of 1999 to generate a grassroots movement. It is our purpose to educate the local and regional community about trade globalization, and, in so doing, to provide a reasoned response to its governmental and business supporters. www.cag.peak.org
In 1999, recognizing that a common interest in making corporations more accountable for their behavior world-wide, environmental and labor leaders formed the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment. The organization is now found nation-wide. www.asje.org