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Labor & Community Groups Rally Against the Pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

May 8, 2014 (San Diego)-- Labor and community groups lined the streets outside a fundraiser featuring President Barack Obama today to protest the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement, a pact they say threatens to ship California jobs overseas.  The Democratic fundraiser was held at the home of Irwin Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm, a high-tech company that already does much of its production overseas and has been lobbying for the TPP.

“While the one percent is inside paying over $30,000 per couple for a photo op with the President, the Democratic Party’s base is out in the streets protesting the President’s job-killing trade proposal,” said Nicole Gochmanosky of Citizens Trade Campaign.  “California can’t afford a NAFTA on steroids that ships more jobs overseas and further drives down wages and benefits in the jobs we have left.”

The TPP is a trade pact currently under negotiation between the United States and 11 nations throughout the Pacific Rim and would set rules governing approximately 40% of the global economy.  It includes countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, which market themselves as low-cost labor alternatives to China in an attempt to attract manufacturing and service-sector jobs. 

“Economic inequality is a major issue for voters,” continued Gochmanosky.  “If Democratic Party leaders think they can grant favors to big corporations at the expense of American jobs, they’re going to have a hard time turning people out come November. More than three quarters of House Democrats and a number of Republicans have already come out against allowing the TPP to be rushed through Congress circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures.  We want Representatives Peters and Davis to stand up for California jobs by opposing ‘Fast Track’ for the TPP as well.”

Today’s demonstration included members of Citizens Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, Woman Occupy San Diego, along with San Diego 350 protesting the Keystone Pipeline.  In addition to opposing the President’s proposal for the TPP, they called on area Members of Congress to oppose “Fast Track” legislation for the TPP. 

– Over 100 San Diegans gathered along Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla to call on President Obama, who was in the neighborhood for a fundraiser, to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The “KXL”, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export, has been called “game over” for the climate by the nation’s foremost climatologist, Dr. James Hansen.

Participants held large signs, including a 50-foot cardboard depiction of the Keystone Pipeline with the words “Stop the Keystone Pipeline. Fight climate change” in huge letters on it, and a large banner with a quote from the President that participants want to see him keep: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

SanDiego350’s Emily Wier said that the KXL will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen the impacts of climate change – including significant sea level rise, more extreme and frequent storms and wildfires, water shortages, and increases in heat and infectious disease-related health problems – while creating only a few dozen on-going jobs. “Fully exploiting the tar sands will make the most serious effects of global warming inevitable. We need the President to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, say he’ll veto a pro-pipeline bill in the Senate, and start demonstrating national and global leadership on climate change.”

Phil Petrie, a local artist in North Park, said that the country’s lack of response to devastating climate change is a moral issue. “We have a responsibility to the planet and to future generations to hold our government accountable to take immediate action on climate change. We are here now to make it known to President Obama that we, the people, say: The time is now! Reject this pipeline!”

Eleven-year old Siena also spoke movingly, saying, “Let me tell you what we kids really need.  We don’t need oil. We need clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, and clean oceans to swim in.”