For immediate release
May 15, 2015
Activists stand against phony human rights language, call for real respect for human rights in trade deals
As the Senate prepares to vote on Trade Promotion Authority (commonly known as Fast Track) after its unexpected failure to clear a procedural hurdle in the U.S Senate on Tuesday, the leaders of UNITE HERE, Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women and LGBT organization Pride At Work (see letter and fact sheet) called on Democrats to oppose Fast Track because of its detrimental effect on woman and LGBT people around the world. Last year, 119 members of Congress wrote to President Obama asking that Trans-Pacific Partnership country Brunei be excluded from trade agreements with the United States because of its atrocious anti-gay law that includes stoning as a punishment for gay sex and prison time for women who have children out of wedlock, a request that has gone unheeded by the Administration. The Administration has also opposed an amendment to Fast Track sponsored by Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) that would effectively exclude Malaysia from consideration because of its horrid record on human trafficking.
“Human rights should never take a backseat to corporate profits.” said UNITE HERE President D. Taylor. Under Fast Track, Congress would lose its constitutional power to amend agreements. Despite the inclusion of a toothless, unenforceable human rights goal in the Hatch-Ryan version of Fast Track, under the legislation Congress would still cede its ability to exclude human rights violating countries like Brunei from future trade deals.
UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents 270,000 working people across North America. Our members in the U.S and Canada work in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution laundry, and airport industries.