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Union Turns To Republican For Help Opposing Trade Deal

A delegation from United Steelworkers Locals 1899 will deliver 1,500 signed letters to Republican Rep. Michael Bost Wednesday, pleading with him to oppose the president on trade.

Trade promotion authority has found support and opposition on both sides of the aisle. Also known as fast-track, if granted by Congress it would allow the president to make trade deals with other countries without being amended or filibustered.

While Democrats and organized labor agree on many policy areas, unions have led the way in opposing the president on the issue. According to Daniel Simmons, the president of Local 1899, the letters are an appeal to Bost to oppose a bill expected to be introduced this week that would grant the president such authority.

“We can no longer be silent with the threat we face,” Simmons declared in a statement. “Last month U.S. Steel served notice on 2,080 steelworkers employed at our Granite City steel mill of an intent to idle operations as the result of market conditions and an illegal flood of steel imports from China, South Korea, Japan and other countries that unfairly subsidize products that now threaten to put us out of work.”

The letter also urges Bost to support better trade laws, agreements that deter and penalize unfair trade and to stop countries from manipulating their currency.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by other labor leaders, particularly AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka who has helped to lead the effort to oppose TPA. At the center of the controversy is the Trans-Pacific Partnership which organized labor has expressed great concern over. Unions have argued TPP with the backing of fast-track authority undermines trade that benefits workers as opposed to corporate interests.

The AFL-CIO threatened lawmakers with a political contributions freeze if they supported fast-track. Democrats have the most to lose by a political contribution freeze. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC alone spent $1.1 million dollars in support of Democrats during the 2014 elections while also spending $1 million opposing Republicans.

Though the AFL-CIO has led the way in opposing current trade deals, other unions have also made clear their firm opposition.

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