Hoffa: TTIP Should Help, Not Hinder, Workers

Posted: September 23, 2014
Source: Teamster.org
By Teamsters President James P. Hoffa
Published in The Broker, September 22, 2014

US citizens have found themselves on the short end of the stick too many times to believe that the TTIP will create more jobs.

The US and EU nations have much in common. They are first-world countries and political allies represented by democratically-elected leaders. But a proposed trade pact between the US and EU is no way to further that relationship, especially for their citizenry.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a job loser for American workers based on leaked details of its still-secret text and would likely harm the economies of many European nations as well. Labour provisions expected to be included in the deal do not provide enough protections. Additionally, language that would bar preferred status to national companies in government purchasing – known as the Buy American program in the US – would starve job creation.

Any TTIP agreement must expand on the labour rights granted to American workers in other recent trade deals so they equal the protections granted to those employed in the EU. For example, that could mean endorsing the creation of transnational work councils that would bring together company employees across borders and involve them in discussions with corporate executives.

It would also mean granting more rights for temporary workers so all employees are on equal footing. As it stands, the EU requires that workers hired by temp agencies receive the same pay, overtime, breaks and time off as their permanent brethren. Such a provision should be included in TTIP.

One thing a deal cannot do, however, is end the more than 80-year-old US procurement program that gives preferences to American companies when it comes to government contracts. A paper issued last year by the European Commission made it clear the EU wants the ‘Buy American’ program, which ensures US taxpayer dollars stay within the country, to be terminated. It would be a tremendous mistake to end the program, given its immense popularity among US citizens of all political stripes and the fact it gives US companies a leg up in securing some US$556 billion in federal contracts annually.
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