Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Released, Waving Green Flag for Debate

Opposition mainly came from an array of unions and environmental groups, but some big businesses, like Ford, also joined the emerging resistance to the pact.

Comments: 204

  1. "Vietnam has agreed to American terms to grant potentially far-reaching labor rights to the country’s workers, including the freedom to unionize and to strike"

    Wonderful. So the America government will ensure that the Vietnamese worker can unionize and strike, while back in the homeland the American government does everything in its power to inhibit the ability of the American worker to unionize and strike.

  2. BINGO !

  3. Another one gov't for the world move by the idiot in the white house!! Get rid of this as it will kill the American worker!!

  4. Here, here!

  5. Labor rights for Vietnamese workers... Gee, that's a great idea, and I wonder if labor rights would work right here in the U.S.?

    Did the U.S. ever provide reparations to the people of Vietnam for the U.S. war in Vietnam? How about help with the effects of Agent Orange? How about help in locating and destroying unexploded cluster bombs, etc. How about reparations for the 1 to 3 million Vietnamese killed in the war?

  6. Our government hasn't even fully acknowledged the damage to the health of the veterans who served in Vietnam from the use of defoliants.

    I know, my father served in Vietnam for a 13 month tour and then died young as a result of his exposure to the toxin (my family strongly believes) and there wasn't an avenue for my mother to be able to even approach the Veterans' Administration about his death.

  7. Jimmy Carter's much vaunted Human Rights policy nearly always gave way and was ignored when American Corporate Interests in various countries would be jeopardized by the policies.

    It's ironic that the U.S. created TTP is insisting on allowing worker's unions and their independence from the state while here at home, government and corporate policy has largely been successful in destroying unions.

  8. I know that the President thinks this is all we need, but what we really need is an entirely new trade system, one that would remove ANY ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE from the exploitation of emerging market workers when products are sold in Japan, Europe, Canada, the United States, or any advanced industrialized nation. We need a system that acknowledges solidarity between workers across the globe, and seeks to lift all boats simultaneously - not merely the boats of the elites who control our politicians.

    By agreeing to even pursue this specific deal, the President has given credence to the lie that corporations are people. But they are not. Only people are people - and at the end of the day, it is only people who will care enough to do what is necessary to protect our precious environment, upon which every life form on this planet depends, and on the humanistic values that we should all hold dear.

  9. oh, my, you mean tariffs and protectionism ?

    tsk tsk, what kind of globalist are you ?

  10. Great. Unions for the Vietnamese, but let's continue to rid ourselves of unions in the U.S.

  11. now if only Wisconsin & ohio & florida & & & would only catch up to Vietnam...

  12. Among the multitude of troubling features of TPP is enforcement. How the rules governing the behavior of governments and businesses covered under this umbrella are held accountable is largely a matter of faith. Violations will be heard in secret hearings by arbitrators representing the interests with the most to lose by enforcement. Until this article appeared there was little or no discussion of side deals such as this, riddled as it is with hypocrisy between two countries and not applied universally to all trans pacific participants. Feel good sentiments are transparent public relations ploys designed to provide cover for the egregious lack of real justice this agreement sanctifies. Congress should act in a bipartisan rejection of this toothless agreement promoting international opportunism.

  13. Vietnam agrees to allow workers to form unions and to strike? If only the U.S. government were as supportive of those rights on its own home turf.

  14. These provisions simply use an economic incentive model to protect rights that should be protected under a judicial enforcement model, both here and in Vietnam. Workers around the world face conditions every day where there are laws to protect their rights, but the corrupt court systems and cozy relationships between big business and governments makes actual enforcement nearly impossible. This article alludes to this problem while stopping short of calling this arrangement what it is..a thine veil of respectability with no real teeth.

    It's also been reported that certain provisions of the TPP, particularly those dealing with health and safety regulations can only be brought to arbitration, regardless of any other laws or regulations to the contrary. So if these newly unionized workers seek to strike over unhealthy work conditions they may find that their only avenue for recourse is a corporate arbitrator.

    One need only look at the stories about mandatory arbitration on the pages of the NY Times web site to see how this system is tilted in favor of the corporations, not the workers and certainly not the average citizens. There's nothing in this story that convinces me to support this deal to set up a new corporate playground that circumvents rather than reinforces basic human rights labor norms. I hope my so called representative see it the same way.

  15. Your arguments may well be valid, but what would you do instead? Cheap Asian labor isn't going to disappear just because you reject this agreement. No matter your concerns it seems to me that TPP is a lot better than what is in second place, and in the end that is how an up or down judgment should be based.

  16. W.A. - We're not expecting cheap Asian labor to go away, that would be contrary to the basis of TPP.
    How about a review of what is currently in place?

  17. Here we have a third world country embracing labor unions in an effort to bolster trade and economic growth, while the United States is doing everything it can to eliminate labor unions. Apparently, after Viet Nam grows its economy and their billionaires takeover, they too will join us and and attack the unions, as we have done, after their unionized labor builds up their nation with a strong middle class.

  18. Welcome to the Bizzaro world, freedom in Vietnam and Scott Walker in America (along with the not so supreme, Supreme Court & half of congress)

  19. How can TPP require the Eight to Unionize when so many GOP-contrtrolled states, such as Tennessee, have fought so hard against it--even when a specific corporation wanted to establish Unions?

  20. Many Communist nations speak to two audiences, One thing is presented for the global audience; but, for residents of its own country, another version--and in this case, set of rules--applies.

  21. Both the Tea Party and the Democrats have an equally abysmal understanding of economics. Trade is not a zero sum game with only winners and losers. Trade promotes growth that benefits primarily the poor. For example, the poverty headcount in Vietnam fell from nearly 60 percent to 20.7 percent in the past 20 years. This remarkable reduction in poverty is due to Vietnam opening up to the world. On the other end of the spectrum, about half of North Korea's population of 24 million lives in extreme poverty.

  22. In the US, globalization has not benefited the poor, it has benefited the rich. Jobs have been outsourced and for this and other reasons average real wages have not risen and for those at the bottom they have actually gone down. Meanwhile the international capitalists in the 0.1% have increased their wealth enormously.

    Trade could be managed to protect American workers, but there is no reason to think that the TPP does this - it is an agreement mostly for the benefit of corporations. This piece attempts to distract from the substance of the agreement by touting labor provisions involving Vietnam which are clearly unenforceable. The corporations which are really in charge of trade have no incentive to enforce such provisions.

  23. Is that why we put people in office in this country? To increase the standard of living in any country that undermines our own middle class? Private sector Unions have never been weaker in this country and will continue to weaken if not disappear. Our elected leaders on both sides will always side with big corporate money. The middleclass hasn't had a raise in 30 years.... now that economic reality is not too difficult see or understand.

  24. "Trade is not a zero sum game with only winners and losers."

    Yet you list gains for Vietnam and losses for North Korea. How about listing the benefits of this agreement for American workers?

  25. If the Vietnamese are able to unionize and strike, our GOP Congress is going to have a problem with that. Expect many of them to change their position on this deal. To them, the selling point is the ability to exploit 3rd world labor even easier than you can today.

  26. That's fine with me, TPP should be rejected, it is a horrible deal for the U.S. Obama lost me with this. Next he'll approve the Keystone pipeline.

  27. And supporters on the dem side of the racket, too. Like obama. Both sell humanity out daily. It is their bread and butter.

  28. "John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said that while the bilateral agreement was enforceable in theory, “it is not enforceable in practice.”"

    Yep. There will be no consequences for Vietnam for not following through. Violations of copyright or patent rules? Strict, harsh consequences. Labor rules? Rights protection? Not so much. The agreement does cover a lot of ground, but the actual benefits are pretty one-sided.

  29. Exactly. it's all theater to gain votes in Congress.

  30. Great. Now let's get Wisconsin to sign on next--maybe they can return to real American labor rights too.

  31. It's easy for progressives to see the TPP as advancing the interests of corporations over American workers. But I have a lot of experience working with global companies including from China, and I can tell you that getting countries like Vietnam to play by US rules is way better for everybody over the long term than avoiding trade agreements altogether.

    The global economy will continue to integrate - that's an unstoppable fact. Trying to slow global integration by avoiding the TPP and other trade agreements may serve the interests of certain segments of American labor, particularly those that serve the US domestic market. But it would suppress gains for labor in those US industries that export abroad. In the meantime, Chinese business practices would become the increasingly accepted norm in Asia, and over the long run they would infect America too. That would be a true disaster for workers and consumers everywhere.

  32. What a beautiful position the American government and the 1 percent have taken!

    Demand labor rights, unionize, and all those beautiful things for their workers. And back home, take them all away, make unionized states "right to work," call unions thugs (use your media to do it, or Bloomberg and Scott Walker can do it too), destroy democracy by passing and keeping Citizens United, and then ship American jobs overseas -- to places like China, Bangladesh, Haiti, India and Pakistan -- where Apple, Wal-Mart, Gap, Nike, and Disney sweatshops kill workers. Monsanto farmers commit suicide in thousands.

    Meanwhile in USA, because of a non-existent 11% labor union, income inequality skyrockets, and poor people die in jails.

    George Orwell would rename his book now: 1984 to 2015.

  33. Talk about irony. Our 60s-era foe is now working toward building a middle class, including essential protections for workers' rights (like the US actually had in the 60s-era), while we are busy eliminating our middle class by (among other things) shedding legal protections for workers!

    Plus, many on the right and left oppose the TPP (for various reasons), notwithstanding that it will be good for American business, international relations, and a more interdependent world. Funny, how times have changed.

  34. It may well be good for American business, but for the American worker, not so much. Each trade deal results in manufacturing jobs continuing to pour overseas. Between trade deals and the gutting of Unions by the GOP, the American middle class is being strangled. And yet somehow the GOP continues to win elections

  35. Good for business, bad for American citizens and jobs, but you know, what's good for corporations, right (no pun intended).

  36. "it will be good for American business"

    So what? The real problem this trade deal is that it will be bad for the American people, especially those in the remnants of the middle class and the working class.

  37. So a Communist country will allow labor unions and workers right to strike! Hey is that bridge that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn still for sale?

  38. It's just too much to bear. While American Unions are being attacked and gutted we are working to foster labor rights in other countries. Did Scott Walker negotiate this deal?

  39. Hillary and Obama, along with 600 of the largest multi-national corporations in the world negotiated these so called trade agreement in secret. But, these are actually a Corporate Global Governance Treaty. The TTP, TISA, TTIP (Obamatrade) will destroy what is left of industry/manufacturing in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of decent paying American jobs. The unions know this and are against these agreements. They will also allow unlimited foreign workers on H-1B visas to take American jobs... like what just happened at Disney, Edison, and other Corporations. These are more like an international EU agreement and only 5 chapters out of 29 deal with trade. Drug monopolies, internet control where your ISP spies on you, global warming, etc., will be affected and big corporations will sue for billions in international tribunal courts for perceived damages to force changes in our environmental, banking, and other laws. That is why Congress is currently outlawing all requirements for GMO labeling and now due to the WTO we can no longer label our meat... so you won't know if it is from China or Vietnam. These secret agreements are intended to destroy national sovereignty and nothing will be labeled Made in America. WE MUST DEMAND THESE AGREEMENTS BE MADE PUBLIC NOW, BEFORE CONGRESS VOTES ON THEM! I understand that the Senate and the House received almost 2 million dollars for their YES votes to "fast track" these agreements!

  40. Freedom to have unions is far different from actually having them. We are free to have unions here but our managements have found clever ways to break them up. Such as "right to work" laws, intimidation and propaganda.

  41. Our trade deficit with South Korea has doubled since we concluded our trade agreement with them only a few years ago. We have lost about 70,000 manufacturing jobs to Korea over the past 3 years. The results of trade deals with Pacific Export Economies do not live up to the hopes and promises made to the American people.

    Meanwhile, a recent article in the New York Times tells us that academics in their Ivory Towers have just discovered that white working class Americans are dying at higher rates from suicide and substance abuse. For years, working class people in Elmira and Utica have known the relationship between trade deals and despair.

  42. No the relationship between greed and the large business owners.

  43. American labor is too expensive and doesn't provide enough value. Either labor needs to lower its expectations or get a lot more valuable...geographic proximity to market no longer cuts it.

  44. Don't leave out that these same people vote for the GOP with their right to work laws and trickle down economics.

  45. "Vietnam exported nearly $30 billion worth of goods to the United States in 2013, and the United States exported $5.5 billion worth of goods and services to Vietnam . . . "

    Vietnam will do anything to perpetuate or increase this lucrative relationship. They will never honestly care about human rights, so how much time and money will we spend enforcing such a stupid agreement? How in God's name does this benefit the American worker or any American? Vietnam or these other countries will only do what is in their national interest which is why they manipulate their currencies in the first place. Too bad the US under Obama is incapable of recognizing its own national interest. I see a surge in our already unsustainable national debt. What a crime to burden our children with debt used to pay for luxuries enjoyed today. Let's hope Congress for once puts Americans first and tells Obama what he can do with his agreement.

  46. Now if only workers in the U.S. had meaningful rights to unionize and to strike.

  47. Any investigative article on how well the U.S. has enforced the labor-protections - and environmental mandates for that matter - would be very revealing. Also a violation "snap-back" to the prior status quo after five years seems too long of a period - especially if an anti-union/ pro-business Republican administration is elected next November. I agree it is imperative that the Vietnamese Unions must have direct/immediate access to the tripartite arbitration panel to ensure the Communist regime doesn't co-opt them as they do in China, etc..

  48. I mistakenly left out NAFA violation experience .

  49. So with Vietnam last year they exported $30 Billion to us in goods and we imported $5.5 Billion in goods and services to them.
    It we want to eliminate tariffs perhaps the dollar amount of trade should be equal.
    Why do we let them flood the USA with cheep goods when they don't buy much from us?

  50. The U.S. Government might want to implement a similar agreement in support of labor. See below from 2013 Report by Gordon Lafer at the Economic Policy Institute:

    In 2011 and 2012, state legislatures undertook numerous efforts to undermine wages and labor standards:

    "... Four states passed laws restricting the minimum wage, four lifted restrictions on child labor, and 16 imposed new limits on benefits for the unemployed.

    States also passed laws stripping workers of overtime rights, repealing or restricting rights to sick leave, undermining workplace safety protections, and making it harder to sue one’s employer for race or sex discrimination.

    Legislation has been pursued making it harder for employees to recover unpaid wages (i.e., wage theft) and banning local cities and counties from establishing minimum wages or rights to sick leave.

    For the 93 percent of private-sector employees who have no union contract, laws on matters such as wages and sick time define employment standards and rights on the job. Thus, this agenda to undermine wages and working conditions is aimed primarily at non-union, private-sector employees. ..."

  51. If you mean a Republican House and Republican Senate when you say "the U.S. Government", I couldn't agree more. Remember that Volkswagen pledged neutrality in the election for union representation at its plant in Tennessee; but, the governor of the state and Senator Corker actually took to the airwaves calling a higher wage and benefits something that was a threat to Tennessee. The Republican party is a capital friendly party and has adopted some of the most regressive policies for employees since the Civil War and the days of the plantation economy and the days of the company town.

  52. Bill - this TPP is showing that the Democrats are a capital friendly party, too.
    Repeal Citizens United.

  53. In addition to the recent employer practice of making many employees "on-call" and/or part-time workers, hiring two people to work 20 hours a week rather than creating ANY full time positions.

  54. My impression during a visit to Vietnam and extensive discussions with many Vietnamese people is that people there have great faith in their government. In addition the people have a phenomenal work ethic and, from the grassroots level to the highest levels of industry, are committed to working towards building a strong economy. Many people, from small villages to urban centers seemed genuinely happy and proud with the improvements in the country. Contrary to much Western propaganda, the government, likewise appears very committed to enhancing the lives of its people by moving the country into the 21st Century global economy and is very realistic, and nimble, in pursuing this goal. They regard relations with the US as a critical element of this plan.

  55. You made one visit; I lived there 3 years, learned the language, and my wife is VIetnamese. I'm also pretty liberal, so you can't excuse me of being some radical right-winger. The fact is, throughout the country, at all economic levels, most people can't stand that government. But why would they tell you? It's simply too risky, given that the government has ears everywhere. Much easier to feed you the line you probably want to hear.

    You're quite right that Vietnamese people have a strong work ethic and are proud of their country – but that's despite the government, not because of it. Perhaps if you spoke Vietnamese, you'd be able to see past the propaganda.

  56. They just don't know any better. Most of them are young people who grew up under communism and were all brainwashed.

  57. Great for them, except it's bad for U.S. jobs.

  58. Fine words, promises. History shows that in reality there is no way to enforce the rules of a trade agreement, apart from suspending trade - and that is biting your nose to spite your face, starting a trade war. You can win a ruling, and the other nation simply continues to break the agreed to conditions.

  59. say...what better way to screw the vietnamese ...than force labor unions on their companies... that will totally destroy them....better than bombs... my hat is off to the obamy administration.

  60. I'm surprised that the New York Times would report this risible hypocrisy with a straight face. All of these international trade pacts have a single goal: to increase the profits of American corporations. They're part of a broad global capitalist offensive that has been underway since the defeat of the Soviet Union. To present this pact as though it had anything to do with increasing the power of workers against capital is to insist that day is night. It doesn't befit serious journalism.

  61. Exactly, up is down and down is up according to these propagandists.

  62. But the NYT is the mouth piece for Obama. If Obama believes it, the NYT will repeat it for you to believe. Dont you believe that Vietnam will keep its promises just as all the control it has over businesses in its country?! Dont you?!

  63. I would suggest putting "defeat" (of the Soviet Union) in quotes. Putin keeps their political lineage (and belligerence) thriving today, while the US imported the Union's surveillance, papers-pleasery, and mass imprisonment. The Cold War rages on, and the enemies of freedom are winning.

    Still, we can fight them back by fighting the TPP. Its myriad attacks on personal rights and internet freedom, to the benefit of corporations, are obvious and awful.

    Also, "plant variety rights" (see ch. 18) shouldn't even be a thing.

  64. In South Carolina we have the freedom to unionize and strike. However, because of "right to work" laws anyone who is a member of the union is likely to be discriminated against, so unionism is a bad deal for most workers. The plutocrats ("good ole boys" in the south) still run the place and control the newspaper (which is why I read the NY Times).

    The U.S. merchandice trade deficit was $524 billion in 2014. Any trade deal that does not deal with currency manipulation is going to be a failure for the U.S. middle class. The TPP does not address currency manipulation. My thoughts are confirmed in a Feb 2015 article on trade deficits from the Economic Policy Institute (its a short read, and available on the internet).

  65. So they make less than $2 per hour and these rules mean what exactly for Americans? - presumably this equalizes the playing field and opens the opportunities for $2 in the USA

  66. Great! When do Americans get those rights?

  67. ah yes, th tpp

    i didnt think there were any more jobs or factories to offshore ?

  68. We need to manufacture everything in The United States again. When we did this before we had the highest standard of living. Now we do not. Let us honor the memory of Harry Truman and Dwight David Eisenhower and spit out this globalist elite rubbish.

  69. The globalists elites are trying to move us into the age of " the new world order" where there is no representation for workers. Tribunal corporate courts under TPP are a long way from state rights or a sovereign nation ... a long way !

  70. I wish it were that simple. But the sad truth is that cheaper overseas labor would undercut American products. Imports would far outsell home manufactured products and our exports would no longer be sold overseas. Perhaps if CEO's were willing to reduce their salaries to the millions instead of tens and hundreds of millions??

  71. These labor provisions are nothing more than suggestions that will not be enforced.

    By the time the review period sets in, five years later, Vietnam's imports will have its own American political constituency, Walmart, retailers, American capital investors in Vietnam, banks, lenders, etc.. This constituency will not allow the U.S. to interrupt their business in an attempt to enforce labor laws that will decrease Wall Street's margins.

  72. We could have gotten here a long time ago, if American leadership had more faith in our economy than our military. I hope the workers unionize, get a decent life for themselves and their families. I have the same wish for American workers. A different set of dominoes could start to fall.

  73. If anyone believes that this trade deal will ensure that workers in Vietnam will now organize themselves and pursue policies opposed by the government, that's almost as absurd as believing that the deal will protect American jobs. Vietnam will have little difficulty in agreeing to this "condition", because it knows it isn't serious and in any case is unenforceable. How ironic. The US, where union membership has been declining for decades and Republican-controlled states erect barriers against unions, insists that Vietnam embrace them? The ploy of touting "unions in Vietnam" is designed to give some cover to Democrats voting for the deal. Republicans know it isn't anything to be concerned about and will vote for the trade deal because it furthers their interests. Shame on Obama.

  74. Seriously ? Here at home in the good old USA unions are being attacked ... look at Tennessee and how the republican politicians actually ran threatening ads against their constituents who wanted the right to unionize in a VW plant. Even in Silicon Valley some of the tech companies were spending millions and a relative said his company in Silicon Valley had their managers counter any Union talk from their employees. I'm tired of bad trade deals that are undercutting American workers. TPP allows total control of our country by corporations and our sovereignty would be decimated ... this is a really bad deal for America...really bad !

  75. We push American/Western/Liberal values abroad while undermining them here at home. We pushed the Iraqis to elect women to their parliament, while women make up less than 20% of our Congress.

  76. Isn't that why U.S. corporations write them?

  77. Patty W.... A tip of my retiree's union cap to you.

  78. One has to wonder how much this will be viewed as a Potemkin Village face on labor rights in Vietnam.

    It is not as if American Labor has grown unions in the USA in the recent past.

    50 years ago nearly a third of US workers were in a union, now it is 1 in 10.

    After one removes the public sector union workers, only 6.6% of private sector USA workers are in a union.

    If Obama has described the TPP as “new type of trade deal that puts American workers first." perhaps Obama is putting American workers first in the line of economic fire as US wages converge on the global average.

    Perhaps those who suggest the TPP is not about trade, but really about projecting US power in Asia are correct.

    Obama suggests as much: “And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.”

    Exactly how does "American leadership around the world" benefit the typical economically stressed American?"

  79. I'm still laughing at Obama and his promises but Vietnams promises are similarly hysterical. Do we really think Vietnam will keep its promises? No. Does Obama, oh hell yes and brags about it. What's he going to do, try and fine them if businesses violate the agreement? Nothing - because he'll be gone and rolling in money from all the bribes he got for pushing this deal.

  80. My question is:

    Are American workers now going to have the right to form unions and strike under the TPP?

  81. In the 1950s and 60s, if you were smart (and lucky), you went to college. If not, you went to a trade school (remember them?). Yes, we still have a few trade schools, but graduates are doomed to life in a cubicle, staring at a monitor, punching a keyboard. I'm so glad (and lucky) I grew up in that era. I worked 45 years in the audio-repair field; a great time.

  82. The trade deals that the USA has created and is proposing here are nothing but a sham.

    Every country we create a deal with knows that the USA not push hard to uphold the deals requirements on human rights (unions) and environmental responsibility.

    They also know that even if someone wants to try and uphold those requirements that their own country does not have anything approaching our "Rule of Law" and as such they can bury any challenger.

    The regulatory capture in Washington which is standing behind the politicians who propose and approve such agreements is selling the average American down the drain.

  83. That's rich. Meanwhile, a union I know well is being threatened with lockout. At the same time this multi-billion dollar 'regulated' company refuses to bargain in an equitable manner. Lower wages, more contracting, offloading the Cadillac tax onto employees, ditching pensions for an 'enhanced' 401K, ... on and on and on. Go ahead Vietnam. You can trust us about as much as you did in 1969.

  84. And in the meantime, back in America, laws like Right to Work are designed and passed to make it almost impossible for unions to survive. And with the collapse of the unions, wages have gone flat and the middle class is disappearing, while the 1% sucks up the wealth.

  85. This article is likely no news at all. If Vietnamese workers get no greater right to organize for purposes of bargaining collectively or to strike than workers in the USA effectively have, the trade agreement isn't worth for workers the paper it's written on. Ask a bank or insurance or McDonald's worker, ask a home care or pre-school worker, ask a dead miner killed in a West Va. cave-in what the "right" to organize means in America. Ask the Chamber of Commerce how it should be improved.

    Good luck!

  86. Ha! So the uber-capitalist, imperialist United States has twisted the arms of the proletarian vanguard party to enable workers to organize and strike. How about that.

  87. While ensuring that that cannot be done any longer in this country. How hypocritical is that?

  88. Sadly, Obama is not going to get much support on the TPP because the TPP has become a political football which progs and cons want to punt around. The TPP is not going to take jobs from the us, those jobs are already gone. The TPP is not going to cause wages to go down, the wages are already down due to globalization. If anything the TPP will help regulate those pacific economies that are prone to "slave" labor conditions, like Vietnam, and will make American labor more competitive in the long run. Obama is spot on in supporting this and because he supports it almost all the GOP are already leaning against it. The progressives don't like it because it grows American soft power and helps business, both targets for the progressives and both are perennial issues around which progs form their group identity. I can only hope and pray that the TPP is seen by more over time as something worth supporting. If the US is to remain a power, we need to embrace these trade pacts as they are one of the last big cards that we as a nation can play in regards to international power. I'd rather be in a deal with Vietnam where they have to respect unions and give their workers a bit more if only because it helps the US worker down the road and keeps cost down here in the US.

  89. Seriously, I disagree. There will be support in congress because money talks.
    There is no way I can compete in getting my senators attention when their campaign accounts are being filled with corporate money passed through PACs.

  90. The right to lobby doesn't mean that everyone has equal ability to influence it just says that you have a right to lobby. A business has zero votes while the CEO only has one. If a Rep or Senator or the President listen it's usually because they know that the issue is not divisive enough or popular enough to warrant their losing the next election. If the issue is powerful enough to get enough people behind it, all the money in the world for the next campaign will not matter if the Rep/Sen or Pres knows it will cost him/her their job. That's how lobbying works.

  91. "I'd rather be in a deal with Vietnam where they have to respect unions and give their workers a bit more if only because it helps the US worker down the road and keeps cost down here in the US."

    Where is there any evidence that, thanks to a treaty that throws the American working-man under the bus, Vietnam *has* "to respect unions and give their workers a bit more"? What if Vietnam doesn't do that? How will it be forced to do it? Or what if Vietnam decides to do this merely "down the road"? What, then? Suppose that Vietnam immediately adheres to both the words and the spirit of the TPP? How much respect is Vietnam going to give unions? As much respect as they get in US?How much will this "bit more" be? As much as the minimum wage of the "over-paid, under-worked" US worker? If so, then what's the point of the TTP? If not, then how far "down the road" will it be, before the US worker is helped? And how will he be helped? It "keeps cost down here in the US"? What cost does it keep down? The cost of production? An easy way to to keep the cost of production down is to keep the cost of labor down as the cost of raw material - which doesn't automatically reproduce itself - goes up. I can only hope and pray that the TPP is quickly seen by more - even by JSH - over time as a confidence game not in the least worth supporting. From communism to capitalism, at the stroke of a pen. What can go wrong?

  92. The NYT seems focused on only this one provision. What else is under the cover??

  93. NYT providing cover. "Look over here..we're demanding better labor protections in Vietnam!!" Never mind what the TPP says about biologics or national sovereignty.

  94. We need to create decent jobs HERE. Our government should create jobs (infrastructure repair, say) government-funded jobs. If the jobs go to for-profit contractors they will use the cheapest (non-American) materials and pay people as little as possible in order to make the rich even richer. The U.S. government should commit to providing a job for everyone willing and able to work. And at the same time we need to transition many of the workers who build useless (but profitable for our owners) arms and weapons into jobs that don't involve our killing industries. Until the workers of this country demand a WPA type program we will continue have a population of poorly educated, angry, armed, desperate people..ripe for any madman to exploit into a bloody reality.

  95. Who is paying for this Bev?

  96. FDR did it and we can do it too. Go back to tax rates in place during Ike's presidency...higher taxes for the .1% - the taxes that the working people will pay through their government jobs, and deep cuts to the defense budget..Cut back on our deployment of hundreds of thousands of Americans on foreign bases in places like Germany and Japan. We could probably get the money for all of this from the money we throw at the MIC. (VOX has an excellent piece up on all our military bases all over the word.) And a small tax on every single trade - for starters. The employed would spend their money instead of putting in a foreign tax haven and sitting on it. So tax the rich, the corporations, and cut military spending.

  97. Bev we are already almost 19 trillion in the hole. What you say won't even come close. In FDR's time most men, at sometime in their lives did manual labor, that isn't the case now. In addition modern construction work is not unskilled labor anymore. And with prevailing wage laws and the Davis-Bacon act contstruction costs are way higher (adjusted for inflation) than they were in the FDR days. We need to cut back on many things, some of which you mentioned but right now government is eating up all the money. Get back to a constitutional republic where power is disperesed and government is constrained and maybe those things can happen.

  98. The undisputed facts are that TPP was worked out in great secrecy by corporate lawyers for the benefit of said corporations. A few patches applied to some of the worse effects of previous agreements "just happened" to be leaked.
    Sorry Obama but NAFTA on steroids worked out in secrecy is not what the world needs.

  99. "The undisputed facts are that TPP was worked out in great secrecy by corporate lawyers for the benefit of said corporations.".....If it was worked out in great secrecy as you claim, how could you or anyone else possibly know that it is an undisputed fact?

  100. All right. So I don't really know what's in the TPP. Why don't you explain it to me? By the way, do you realize that the TPP, whatever it says, will not simply affect the people of Vietnam? It's also going to affect the people of the United States. Yet, I doubt that what the TPP really obligates the American people to do is either understood or even known by Obama. Or by W.A. Spitzer, for that matter. Unless he was part of the team of specialists in international commercial law that wrote this treaty, of course.

  101. And who in the world, is really going to take more worthless and hollow agreements any government these days wishes to make seriously, especially when they run so contrary to behavior proven to be otherwise. Pieces of paper in themselves doesn't change anyone's or anything's behavior, only real actions do and the deal itself legalistic gobbledygook for politicos to wave wildly over their heads like a drunk cowboy twirls a lariat while riding a bucking bronc to prove how great a cowboy they are.

  102. Any country wanting unfettered access to our markets will do this. They have the interests of THEIR people.
    Our government has the interests of the people of those countries and multinational corporations... The Americans are getting elbowed aside.

  103. When you can't sell a deal on the merits you invent an enemy, an opponent, an antagonist here the one building your smart phones.

    "“When it comes to Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, the rule book is up for grabs. And if we don’t pass this agreement — if America doesn’t write those rules — then countries like China will,” the president said. “And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.”"

    If he actually believes this his foreign nonpolicy is even worse than I, who believe it can't be worse, believe it is.

    Undermine american leadership around rhe world. Hehehehehe. Today's Syria non strategy is.....

  104. So your theory is that we do nothing, and China--which I seem to recall shares a border with Vietnam--just sits there because.

    Okay, that makes perfect sense.

  105. Robert

    My "theory" is that we should have a "foreign policy" and if China is indeed an enemy we should not have been doing what we have been doing which is a combination of empowering it, and refusing to compete with it around the world, encouraging the Japanese to remilitarize, thereby sending South Korea towards China and angering most asians not japanese with lectures about "get over it" then, tip toeing around the south sea fake island issue lest we upset our "enemy" ....but you pay no attention to this stuff nor care, do you?

  106. Is the Republican party hypocritical enough to support unions in Vietnam while destroying them here at home?


  107. Let's just see who actually votes for this Democratic-party led catastrophe.
    The ones who voted for TPA got a nice payday...
    We have got to have the Citizens United ruling reversed!

  108. I sure wish that people who cheerlead for capitalsm and yell at the TPP would at some point figure out just how it is that capitalism works and just how little markets and corporations and money care about America.

    It'd also be nice if you kids would get over the fantasy that it's still 1953.

  109. So, Obama's legacy is going to be improving labor rights in Vietnam? The White House also trumpets environmental and other human rights protections in the TPP, but seriously who is going to enforce them? Are these countries agreeing to enter an American empire?

    In fact, most of the logging of rainforests in Southeast Asia is already illegal, as is poaching of endangered species and violations of minorities' rights. These days no body writes laws saying "if you are part of this group, you are 3/5 of a person". They write laws that say everybody is equal and all good things are protected, and then they find ways flimsy rhetorical paths around them.

    Unless the US gets a direct rule in the elective processes of these countries, I don't really see how it can ensure that these reforms will actually be implemented. In any case, it is the business of those countries' people to improve their nations; they might not agree with the US about what they should be doing.

  110. We win more with trade and relations than we ever win with war with another nation.

  111. What has been won for "us" by means of the TPP?

  112. I'm astonished that people in these comments would even begin to compare labor rights in America to labor rights in Vietnam. It's night and day, people.

    This sounds like good news for Vietnamese workers, but I'm concerned how this will affect their export economy if it significantly increases labor costs relative to other options in the region.

  113. "I'm concerned how this [good news for Vietnamese workers] will affect their export economy."

    You are? Why? Do you live in Vietnam? Are you unconcerned about the affect of the TPP on American workers?

  114. So Vietnam will implement the right to organize into unions and strike as the GOP dismantles those same rights here. Interesting.

  115. Hmmm. We're supposed to believe this is going to be good for us(middle class in the USA)? Seems not too long ago in my lifetime, my age group was going over there to fight in order to keep Southeast Asia from being taken over by the Commies, remember the Domino Theory?

    I'd put this in the same category. Many here in this country will give up something in order to conscript to something some politician and,in this case Corporation wants. In the meantime, how'd that Domino Theory work out? if we are to make these agreements and they are to be so sweeping, let's put this on the ballot in the next election. Take it out of secrecy and put some sunshine on it. Again, the American people are being lead into something they have no control over and have no information about. That usually doesn't bode well for "us' just like the last Vietnam debacle.

  116. Yes, unions in Vietnam will benefit the poor in that country. It will also benefit workers in the US because the difference between our wages and theirs will narrow. This is the math so many people who are screaming that the TPP is a job-killer don't seem to understand.

  117. Wages in Vietnam go from a few dollars a day to a few dollars more -- hardly a level playing field for American workers.

  118. JimBob , how long (years or centuries) will it take for the Vietnamese to catch up with the hourly American rate?

  119. Given the number of states in the U.S. that are wildly anti-union (with their so-called "right to work" laws) it seems more than a little hypocritical for our country to turn around and demand that other nations allow unions and strikes.

    So much for the principle of sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  120. You need to explain "why right to work" laws are anti union. It seems to me that requiring someone to join a union and pay union dues in order to work is very definitely pro union; whereas "right to work" laws are more at union neutral.

  121. Seriously? The US wants to support unionization ABROAD? How about supporting unions AT HOME.

    Same old same old. We go play righteous empire at the expense of our own democracy at home.

  122. Unions are allowed in this country anytime the workers want one.

  123. Michael F
    Yes but so called "Right to Work" laws in most Republican controlled States have undermined Union organizing efforts. Right to Work legislation allows workers to join a Labor group, and enjoy the higher wages and better pension /vacation benefits of Union membership, without paying Union dues.
    This is a back door move by Republican Governors to strangle Unions.
    A sad state of affairs. Look what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin, stripping teachers and firefighters of their collective bargaining rights.

  124. The only collective bargaining right stripped was that of benefits, particularly health care. Without right to work in order for someone to have a job they must join and pay dues to a union. How is that right? Unions have only themselves to blame. The steelworkers unions buried that industry and now those jobs are gone. The UAW drove two companies into bankruptcy thereby costing thousands of jobs.

  125. Neoliberalism:
    Since the 1980s, the term has been used in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, its advocates supported extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The transition of consensus towards neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, and the financial crisis of 2007–08.

    Look out America because you haven't seen nothing yet.

  126. This is going to take forever to enforce. In Vietnam as in other countries a system has to be in place to investigate violations. Then it need to get litigated. This sounds to me like a gold mine for the lawyers.

  127. Maybe our trade representatives can negotiate the right to unionize in the United States while they are at it. Wouldn't it be nice if our government promoted unionization and protection of workers' rights here at home?

  128. This is the end,

    Obama, neoliberals and the 1% sell out the American worker once and for all.

  129. Many of the posts here seem to be concerned with unions, workers bargaining position, and wages. They ignore a critical point. Workers (unions) are in better bargaining position when there are more jobs than workers; they are in a worse bargaining position when there are more workers than jobs. In that regard, nothing else really matters. There happens to be an abundance of cheap labor available in Asia. That fact won't change if TPP passes or not. Further, trying to regulate patents, copy rights, working conditions, and trade in endangered species, is a good idea. You can discount TPP all you want, but the default position is to allow China to determine those rules. Is that really what you want to happen? If you are serious about unions, workers rights, and wages in the U.S. you should understand that more could jobs at home, jobs that can't be exported, is the only solution. We need to rebuild our infrastructure, improve our public schools, and invest in basic research. You need to send a message to Congress to get off their dead butt and start working for the American people. Think about it and support TPP because it is a lot better than what is in second place.

  130. "Many of the posts here seem to be concerned with unions, workers bargaining position, and wages."

    That's so uncalled-for!

    "The default position is to allow China to determine those rules."

    I agree. So, what's the point of taking some other position that's guaranteed to hurt the average American?

    "We need to rebuild our infrastructure, improve our public schools, and invest in basic research."

    That's called-for. But how is this affected by the TPP?

  131. The freedom to unionize and to strike? If only we still had that here in the US!

  132. Thanks funny!0

    Communist Vietnam is raising OUR standards, given that most American politicians want to destroy unions and the right to organize.

    Who'd thunk that communists would raise OUR standards?

    But they've done it!

  133. How is this similar or different from China? 'Communist' parties in two neighboring countries can be quite different.

  134. Why do we keep calling it "trade" when it's really just off-shore production for sale in the U.S. markets. Simply, it's exporting U.S. jobs without any thought for the displaced workers in this country or for the diminished "demand" that the loss of American jobs represents. The economy runs on demand, but the effect of both trade and tax policy has been to diminish demand by giving more after tax money to the wealthy, who invest rather than spend in a world awash with unneeded savings, and less money to the middle-class who would spend anything sent their way.

  135. Workers in Vietnam will be able to unionize and strike?

    Why, heaven forbid! They'll more rights than workers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.

  136. Five years after the agreement takes effect, the United States could withhold trade benefits if it is determined that Vietnam has not met its obligations.
    Nothing like a treaty with teeth. And this is nothing like a treaty with teeth.

  137. It sure sounds good in the headline, like most of this Administration's moves. Who believes the president when he makes promises about growing the economy and putting American workers first? He had to enter into the TPP to do those things? Sorry, not buying it.

  138. So now we're trading with Vietnam. Didn't we have a war with them? And didn't we "lose" the war?

    ALL wars are lost by all who engage in them, but the loss is only morally justified if there was no choice, i.e., the war was necessary in self-defense, as in e.g., WWII. This is in essence why I especially opposed the Vietnam War instigated largely by Democratic lies and the Iraq War instigated largely by Republican lies.

    “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Mohandas Gandhi

  139. I believe that the Vietnam "war" was a delusion of the Dulles Brothers (deeply republican), pushed on Eisenhower and ported over the JFK and LBJ. LBJ had plenty of help from republicans on that one. All hands were dirty with blood as with Iraq/Afghanistan. It's always about lies.

  140. How bitterly ironic that Vietnam is going to allow for unionization because the US insists, even as the Republican party and their billionaire backers wage a relentless war on workers in general and unions specifically in the United States.

  141. Interesting. Vietnam has to do what America doesn't want to do, have unions and allow strikes. How quaint. Perhaps we can get some Vietnamese union organizers to address Congress about the benefits of unions (somewhere else)!

  142. Vietnam is doubtless following the lead of the GOP campaigns. The candidates were unhappy with working conditions. They organized, formed a union and threatened to strike if their lot didn't improve.

    whoever thought the GOP was so pro-Labor? But it's a fine example to workers everywhere.

  143. We should be working with the Chinese, not in an adversarial situation, which is what this TPP is all about. It is designed specifically to exclude the Chinese,, which is ridiculous when you realise that China has at least as big an interest in, and at least as big a geographical location, in the Pacific region as the United States.

  144. I disagree with your premise that it was designed to exclude the Chinese. Rather I believe it was designed to set down a marker for a subsequent agreement with China, perhaps including them in TPP itself.

  145. That's a better deal than those workers could get in Tennessee.

  146. Fascinating. While they celebrate labor rights, we, the beacon of liberty, work tirelessly to restrain them through "right to work" legislation.

  147. Remarkable that we are foisting a broken system of labor laws on an emerging economy that has generated enormous gains to deregulation and capitalism v our progression to the left. Asian countries with China as a star have embraced free markets to improve the conditions of workers while we have lurched backwards

  148. It's hard not to laugh at "communist" Viet Nam now allowing unions and strikes at the same time as "democratic" America moves further and further away from union rights.

    Actually, it is quite politically canny for those who oppose union rights here to support them abroad. Such allows politicians to parade around as a friend of the average American worker at the same time he or she advocates for policies adverse to their interests.

  149. it is now up to the U.S. unions to make sure that the workers in Vietnam are afforded these protections. What are the odds they will?

  150. How can the U.S. unions make sure that the workers in Vietnam are afforded these protections when they're too weak to ensure that the workers in this country are afforded these protections? Or is that your point?

  151. Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of the TPP - and believe me, it's otherwise - it is quite bizarre that America of all nations should lecture Vietnam about labor rights. A case of do as I say, not as I do.

    If President Obama were so gung-ho about labor rights he would have made labor rights here at home one of his highest priorities, instead of running away at the first sign of GOP resistance. Sticking to your beliefs as a president and as a party is what wins elections down-ticket and at midterms.

  152. "at the first sign of GOP resistance".....You have to be kidding. You expect Obama to be able to work with a Republican Congress when Boehner had to resign because he couldn't work with them?

  153. maybe *they* will be able to earn living wages.

  154. Many commenters lament the fact that workers' rights are on the upswing in Vietnam while in the US workers' rights are being trampled by state and local legislatures and governments. The difference here is that the US government is controlled by big businesses while Vietnam's government is controlled by bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries.

  155. Looks like we won the Vietnam war after all. Now those 58,000 Americans, not to mention a million or two Vietnamese, can rest in peace.

  156. "Looks like we won the Vietnam war after all."

    And now we're doing all that we can to lose the peace for everyone but the 1%.

  157. As indicated in the article, the right of Vietnamese workers to unionize and to strike is enshrined in Vietnam's constitution. The difference is that Vietnamese workers can now independently unionize from the government's sponsored unions. This is great news for Vietnamese workers for it will force the many foreign companies, taking advantage of low labor costs in Vietnam, manufacturing and producing goods in Vietnam to improve working conditions and increase wages and, therefore, will accelerate and expand the middle class in Vietnam with all the potential benefits economically and politically. The government of Vietnam should be commended for accepting the labor provisions of the TPP as it will surely use the labor provisions to codify better wages and working conditions into the country's foreign investment laws. The TPP, in terms of protecting and promoting workers' rights, indeed serves as the template for future trade agreements.

  158. "The government of Vietnam should be commended for accepting the labor provisions of the TPP as it will surely use the labor provisions to codify better wages and working conditions into the country's foreign investment laws."

    Will those same labor provisions be used to codify better wages and working conditions into any of the laws of the United States? Or is it the case that they will supposedly be used that way in a sovereign nation over which the United States has no control, as union-busting continues apace in this country and a candidate for the Presidency argues for the total elimination of the minimum wage and "small-government" forces have reduced OSHA to little more than its initials?

    "The TPP, in terms of protecting and promoting workers' rights, indeed serves as the template for future trade agreements."

    So, it's a "template." So is the Constitution. Yet, local and state governments have no trouble finding work-arounds, as, for example, in the case of laws that effectively eliminate the right to vote. "Promoting workers' rights" in Vietnam? What about protecting workers' rights in this country? Perhaps by raising the minimum wage, at the very least.

    Whatever happened to "America First"?

    The TPP, in terms of protecting and promoting workers' rights, indeed serves as the template for future trade agreements."

  159. The reality is, that some people are content eating rice, not having a car, or a TV, or a smart phone, and can get by on a lot less. Others are not content unless they have the latest App on their smart phone, so they can search for other things to buy, in their car, while driving to work.

  160. There's a hint of incredulity in the article, as if it's astonishing that a communist government would champion workers' rights. But isn't that what communism is supposed to be about? During the Great Depression the US communist party drew a lot of workers who felt it might offer a way out of the impasse. That old idea never really died.

  161. And what's *not* astonishing is that a capitalist government *refuses* to champion workers' rights for its own people.

  162. Oh, wow! Does that mean we can have unions and strikes in the US now?

  163. Interestingly, over 150 countries, including Vietnam, require employers to offer PAID maternity leave. The United States does not. (The other countries that don't are Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.)

  164. Now if only the U.S. would allow unions and strikes, instead of undermining and vilifying them at every turn. We forget unionism sparked the growth of the post-war middle class. But voters in this country have a basic problem with cause and effect. So sad.

  165. Apparently, a lot of people think we don't have unions or that some states forbid them. They can't and we have many. In all states. And there are even more public than private union workers. The restrictions are actually on the private employers who are required to negotiate with them under force of law.

  166. I thought the goal was to destroy outlaw and dismantle unions, organizing activity and majority rule. Isn't the new social construct every man for himself?

  167. No, the new social construct is that corporations unionize while outlawing workers from organizing.

  168. The spineless congressmen in Capitol Hill have sold us out to the corporate overlords. The TPP benefits only American corporations, not America. This country has forgotten everything it stood for. We are witnessing the fall of America.

  169. Sounds like a bad deal for all involved except those looking to find even cheaper place to manufacture stuff. Instead of American worker competing against Chinese making $8,280 a year, now American workers have to compete with Vietnamese making $2,171 a year.

    As for right to unionize and strike, all workers in communist countries already belong to an union and the state operated union will never call a strike so the point of moot.

    Obama is using American fear of China to ram through his trade agreement. Words such as "if America doesn’t write those rules — then countries like China will,” “And that would only threaten American jobs and workers and undermine American leadership around the world.” makes no sense as most countries on the list already have China as their biggest trading partner because they are next to China.

  170. It's funny that we support the right to unionized in Vietnam but we try to kill off unions here in USA.

  171. What? Labor unions? Strikes? That should keep multinationals at bay. They prefer silent, obedient workers who burn up in dilapidated sweat shops without the sobs of their families being heard, because our mainstream media do not report anything once the last puff of smoke has wisped away. And the multis involved have switched on their wind machines known as CSR.

  172. It's too bad the United States doesn't demand that workers in some of our states get the rights to unionize and strike like the Vietnamese.

  173. Name a state where they don't have that right.

  174. They do, Seldoc. What you might be thinking about is that in some states the labor agreements cannot freeze out non-union workers - hence, more freedom for the worker, and a few states have some restrictions on public labor unions.

  175. Touche.

  176. If memory serves me, Chairman Mao began a program of liberalization in the 1950s called the 100 Flowers (or was it a million?). It did not end well. Is anyone in this country so naïve to think this is real? Good luck to the Shop Stewards.

  177. Absolutely fantastic. Provided it is actually enforceable. And reciprocal.

  178. It's ironic that many of the communist parties have had the same views on unions and strikes as the GOP once they were in power. In the communist countries the logic went that since the workers' state was by definition for the benefit of and ran in the interests of the workers that unions and strikes were unnecessary. Here the argument is more or less the same: that government regulation of the employee-employer relationship and the benefits of fuller employment make unions and strikes no longer necessary. The managerial class has the same values and interests whether they reside in a officially socialist or an officially capitalist country.

  179. The TPP takes away the sovereignty of the US and places all the power in the hands of a board compromised of multi nation corporate lawyers. It nullifies our legal system. Just as Mexico and Canada sued us to NOT place grown in America on our meat, this nullifies all made in America big time.
    All the gains go to the investor call and the workers get the shaft.

    No workers were allowed in the negotiation and no environmentalists or any elected official was allowed in on the writing of this monstrosity. It denies any use of tariffs to the US, but allows tariffs and VAT taxes for all the other countries.

    Any politician voting for this monstrosity will not get my vote and I will campaign against their reelection. I am with Bernie Sanders on this.

  180. Promo for TPP. As we see in the wikileaks massive leak of the text, it is an orwellian horror of global proportions, that and the TAA together are the globalist 1% dream of an enslaved world, a more censored world. Think you're going to blow the whistle on monsanto or the like?

  181. Didn't Vietnam stop the US invasion successfully ages ago - maybe a second invasion is coming.

  182. Another example of "Do as we say, not as we do." The collapse of American unions as a result of our domestic politics has brought immense harm to this nation. That most Americans apparently don't understand this means they do not understand history, ours and the truly advanced nations' on the planet -- the ones leaving us in the economic dust.

    Our fascination with STEM education and our total lack of serious study of labor
    at all levels of education will perpetuate the downward spiral of our middle class, to the great pleasure of our economic elites and their friends in politics.

  183. Labor history needs to be taught in ALL schools, not just my Union trade school.
    I'm guessing that's not part of any TPP clauses in our country......

  184. It's appalling that a country with such a modern history as Vietnam, a country that defeated three empires in a row (France, Japan and the USA) in order to achieve independence under socialist rule, hasn't have laws that allow it's working class to unionize and strike.
    Lenin - one of the fathers of the Russian Revolution and it's most important intellectual - clearly stated that a socialist state was a state of transition between capitalism and communism, and, as such, defended explicitly that it should allow it's workers to rebel against it, and gave the concrete example of the right to strike.

  185. Virgens,
    The right of workers to unionize and strike is enshrined in Vietnam's constitution. There are labor unions in Vietnam, sanctioned by the government, which are deemed by the US as not sufficiently independent. Since workers' right to unionize and strike is already in Vietnam's constitution, the Vietnamese government has no problem or reservation accepting the TPP's labor provisions. The US is trumpeting the TPP's labor provisions regarding workers' right to unionize and strike for the purposes of American domestic political consumption and to placate labor unions' opposition to TPP.

  186. Great irony: the American government can impose on the Communist government in Vietnam protecting "labor rights of the country’s workers, including the freedom to unionize and to strike," but it cannot the same rights for American workers — which have been decimated by extreme right state governors, i.e. Wisconsin's poster boy Scott Walker.

  187. I support it inasmuch that it excludes China, a country that has been given a pass after bending or breaking hundreds of WTO rules. I hope it passes and the Chinese govt starts really enforcing IP laws, reducing environmental degradation, making sure their products are safe, etc.

  188. "This agreement is going to kill people literally. As a direct result of that, health care systems will not be able to provide lifesaving medicines for all people who need them."

    -- John Sifton, Human Rights Watch

    I am fully in favor of labor rights for the Vietnamese. particularly after what the U.S. Johnson and Nixon administrations did to them in an over decade long "unnecessary war of choice," which wasted over 3.5 million Vietnamese and 58,286 American lives, but must such reforms come at the further cost of lives to enrich the already greedy and bloated pharmaceutical industry?

  189. Here's the deal: Obama and his trade crew can say all they want about establishing unions and worker protections in another country. Once the ink is dry on this deal, the Obama people will be either totally lame -duck or out of office. In other words, the Viets will be free to do whatever they want, and they will make it so hard to establish a union that it will never happen. This is total hogwash, and Obama knows it is just a whitewash in order to get his businessman-induced TPP passed.

    If Obama really wanted to establish credibility with union people, he'd visibly make abolishing right-to-work laws a central cause of his remaining days in office. He would make sure all federal laws were strongly enforced as per union organizing, instead of paying lip-service as he does now. He would make card check as common in his speeches as he does TPP.

    The TPP is just another gift, like the ACA was and is, to large corporations. Obama makes small overtures to working-class America while literally wining and dining the elitists.

  190. Wait-what? Is this Tom Malinowski the Asst. Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor for which country? I'm confused.

  191. 1) America spent $Trillion and countless of lives to export "Democracy" in places like the Middle East while doing nothing to stop Democracy from dying in America.

    2) America fights for workers rights in Vietnam , but not in the US.

    Who profits from 1) & 2): Corporations. The True Citizens of the USA. The Supreme court made it official with Citizen United in 2010

  192. There are no provisions for Unions, Citizen Groups, or governments to sue under the accord- only Investors suing state parties to the agreement. Yes, you read that right, a company can sue a government before a Kangaroo Arbitration Court of Corporate Lawyers- not the courts of the United States. If you are an individual a group or a government- no way.

    This is not about free trade but is called free trade kind of like "Fox News" is called news. The term free trade in reference to these agreements is a title- not a statement of fact or accurate description.

    This awful trade pact, written by lawyers & lobbyists in secret, should be rejected right now. There is enough already known to be against it.

  193. Change is incredibly difficult but it is increasingly apparent that those who do not embrace change & adapt to the new realities will suffer. Uber, Amazon, Expepdia, Facebook, smart phones,the internet..... are all contributing to a new reality. However, the biggest change in the past 20 years has been globalization. Countries can no longer isolate themselves to protect their economies & self interests, especially the US.

    If the United States hopes to remain competetive in this new global economy we need to participate in establishing the frame work in which commerce will be conducted. Most of all we need to protect our itellectual property that is at the heart of what makes the United States stand out from the rest of the world.

    Of course labor unions want to protect jobs but the US government must focus on protecting those areas in which we have a competitive advantage worth protecting. In the case of low-skill manufactoring jobs fact is we simply can't compete with other countries in the global market. With or without TPP we are going to loose jobs in certain sectors to other countries simply because we are no longer competitive.

    What we cannot do is to throw our high-tech jobs under the bus simply to protect a few manufactoring jobs that will be lost anyway.. TPP is not only good for the US its good for workers throughout the world. As workers of the world gain in quality of life the real beneficiary will be the United States.

    Change is coming! Embrace & adapt to it!

  194. "Change is coming! Embrace & adapt to it!"

    An asteroid strike would be a big change, too - should we embrace that?

    TPP would mean a loss of sovereignty for all signatories and is the antithesis of local autonomy.

    Just one example:

    Japan, as a legacy of the US-led postwar occupation government land reforms prohibits corporate ownership of farmland. The current government would likely prefer the restriction lifted, but it would be very difficult politically. TPP though, offers them a way to get around that.

    A cardinal principle of TPP is that foreign investors must be granted equal status to domestic ones. If someone can claim a loss due to discrimination they can make their case before the new supranational tribunals that TPP would establish. If that body decides they are suffering a loss then the government would have to pay or change their law to accommodate the aggrieved investor.

    So: Big Agra Megacorp can claim that since Mr. Suzuki as a government recognized farmer (individual human variety) can own his couple hectares of
    farmland, but Japanese law prohibits them from buying half of Hokkaido that they are being discriminated against and Japan has to compensate them for their "loss".

    This would be decided by a panel established under the Investor-State Dispute Resolution part of the agreement - not beholden or accountable to any national court system.

    Then the Japanese people have to either pay out big $$'s or let multinationals buy up the country.

    Some choice.

  195. The article doesn't even mention the primary problem: TPP and TTIP waive national sovereignty by permitting corporations to sue nation states before international tribunals made up of corporate lawyers. It also gives corporations the right to sue nations which are parties to the agreement for "lost future profits", and by doing so these corporations can abridge all manner of duly-passed legislation aimed at protecting everything from consumers to the environment.

    This is not speculative. Uruguay is being sued right now by tobacco interests for increasing the size of warning labels on cigarette packs; and if they lose, Uruguay will owe vast amounts of money to this killer industry for trying to protect its own people:

    These agreements are power plays by corporations seeking to destroy national sovereignty in favor of oligarchic interests, who will attempt to undo all manner of protective legislation from anti-monopoly laws to efforts to curb global warming. This is no joke: If we pass these things we are in danger of falling under harsh corporate rule forever.

    Kill the thing before it kills us!

  196. History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce(Karl Marx) We are in the farcical stage with regards to the American Empire advising a so-called communist government on how to treat its workers. As many comments have pointed out, the role of capitalism is to weaken and destroy unions or any other working class organization within its midst. Obama's goal here is to undermine the Vietnamese state, not, as some suggested, empower a middle-class in Vietnam. What "socialist' state would want to follow the U.S. lead of destroying its middle-class, weaken its unions, and lowering its wages!?

  197. Does anyone see the ironies in this?

    1. The socialist workers party dictators running Vietnam have to be cajoled via a capitalist trade treaty to guarantee to their workers the same rights that have been long enjoyed by workers in every capitalist democracy participating in the treaty.
    2. The socialist workers party that spilled the blood of 59000 US servicemen and women and as well as the blood of millions of its own people in a war where it sought to liberate the Vietnamese people from the terrible capitalists exploiting the workers is, in fact, exploiting its own workers as it now follows a perverse economic model of State Capitalism, similar to China.
    3. The treaty is considered a legacy-making agreement for a socialist US President who does not have enough socialist votes from his own party in congress to pass it and must rely on the capitalist republicans to approve the treaty.

  198. Now if we can just get the Republicans in the USA to agree to support citizens to have the right to join a union to negotiate a wage, with a big corporation, for their family.

  199. Seems like we need to remember that freedom to unionize, and strike, is still the law of the land in the U.S, although that right seems to have been curtailed in some red states.

  200. It's hard not to laugh at "communist" Viet Nam now allowing unions and strikes at the same time as "democratic" America moves further and further away from union rights.

    Actually, it is quite politically canny for those who oppose union rights here to support them abroad. Such allows politicians to parade around as a friend of the average American worker at the same time he or she advocates for policies adverse to their interests.

  201. If China and Japan were to combine together and form a more powerful China, then China would have a much easier time taking over any variety of smaller countries. Of course, this may certainly need at least 10 more years, especially to combine military at the same time as technology advancement. Eventually, this more powerful China will become an overwhelming threat to America. This is exactly what happens in my screenplay titled; “The Last President” by Douglas Paige at; driveme89123yahoocom and asking only $2.5 million.

  202. Like most trade deals the U.S are party to. The real economic growth has been in the countries U.S jobs have been exported to and the owners of those companies. Trickle down theory is turning the U.S into a third world country. As history shows, starving, poverty stricken citizens with nothing to lose overthrow their governments by force.

  203. Wait. The USA is pro Labor? How about some help at home?

  204. This is the federal government that spends record money for one gas station & training soldiers who failed to fight ISS, wasted millions on pork projects e.g Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository while letting key infrastructure decay, ,etc
    and can't audit many US department and agencies to cut waste, identify fraud & theft because of outdated systems. etc

    Based on this track record alone we can depend on our big, bloated, wasteful government to recommend/do anything until they fix their age old issues before moving on to anything thing new as we have unemployed, underpaid, unskilled, starving, homeless, illiterate Americans. Let them prove bigger is better or if they can't let's transfer functions to solvent states and/or private concerns.