UAW President Dennis Williams’ Statement on the Passage of Fast Track in the House

UAW President, Dennis Williams

Today Congress turned their backs on the American people and voted to not do their job. Instead, they surrendered their constitutional authority to the executive branch. With this terrible “Fast Track” bill, for the next six years, all free trade agreements will be voted on in Congress without meaningful debate. Clearly, this bill is designed to lead to the passage of trade treaties we cannot see or make changes to, but we will live under for decades to come. This is not how our democracy is supposed to work.
Providing elected leaders an up or down vote after the agreement has been concluded is no substitute for meaningful engagement. The record speaks for itself. Every trade agreement adopted under modern day “Fast Track” has passed.

We are proud of the great success and growth of the American auto industry as it leads the country in manufactured exports today. Sadly, Fast Track puts the auto industry and U.S. manufacturing at risk now and in the future as our trade negotiators work to complete the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Several countries in the TPP have notoriously closed markets and horrendous records on human rights. Yet, supporters of Fast Track in Congress blocked all efforts to crack down on abusive labor practices and unfair trade practices like currency manipulation. Our negotiators already face serious challenges and today’s vote will make their important task even harder as Congress failed to give strong marching orders to our trade representatives.

Let me be clear, giving the Executive Branch a blank check for six years to negotiate trade agreements is the last thing Congress should have done. The share of the nation’s economic gains going to the middle class has already fallen to near-record lows and at the same time, wealth has flowed to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The passage of Fast Track could lead to the passage of trade deals that would make this intolerable situation even worse. For many American families, today is a day where our economic future has been put further out of reach.

The fight is far from over and people from all around the country are more engaged than ever. UAW members have worked in coalition with a diverse group of environmental organizations, civil rights groups, consumer advocates, academics, and opinion leaders from all across the country in opposition to Fast Track. Our members have made thousands of phone calls and participated in hundreds of meetings with Members of Congress. UAW members will continue to make their voices heard throughout the country. We will continue to advocate for trade policies that finally put American workers and businesses first. The American people demand and deserve nothing less.

(Photo Credit: This image was originally posted to Flickr by Gobierno de Chile at http://flickr.com/photos/50371131@N04/5178312541. It was reviewed on 22 December 2010 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.)