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Capital Region News

Albany: Activists Protest TPP Ahead Of State Of The Union Address

A coalition of labor and civic groups gathered in downtown Albany today at the Leo O'Brien Federal Building to protest the Trans Pacific Partnership trade bill.

Activists braved bitter cold windchills to voice their opposition to the TPP, timing the noon rally to coincide with President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, where he will promote the TPP. The activists argue TPP is a continuation of past trade bills like NAFTA and CAFTA that have not met their objectives of job creation or an enhanced American economy.

Albany County Central Federation of Labor President Bill Ritchie disparaged the bill:  "A free-trade agreement designed to protect the interests of multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, conceived behind closed doors at the behest of transnational corporations"

Called by many NAFTA on Steroids, the bill has the potential to depress job growth, increase the cost of prescription drugs, negatively impact the environment and  promote currency manipulation, according to the activists.

Susan Webber is a regional organizer with move on dot org:   "It sets up corporate profits as more important than people's health and welfare, and it's just wrong! When the citizens of America figure out what's going on, they will be appalled! We have to let everybody know it's a very, very scary corporate coup d'etat."

In perhaps a preview of what he may say tonight, President Obama spoke at a November meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Philippines, where he painted a vastly different picture, defining the TPP as "helping to write the rules of global trade for the 21st century."  "This is the highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded. It includes strong protections for workers, prohibitions against child labor and forced labor. it has provision to protect the environment, to help stop wildlife trafficking, to protect our oceans.  These are enforceable provisions that can be brought to bear, much as the same way any provisions relating to terrorists can be dealt with, and as a concept it is not only a good deal economically, it also reflects our common values."

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