Brooklyn Boro

OPINION: Brooklyn will suffer with the passage of TPP

August 21, 2015 By New York State Sen. Jesse Hamilton For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York state Sen. Jesse Hamilton represents the 20th District, which includes parts of Sunset Park, Park Slope, Gowanus, Crown Heights, Flatbush and Brownsville. Photo courtesy of Sen. Hamilton’s Office
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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive trade deal like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but even bigger. How could a treaty involving twelve Pacific Rim countries impact our neighborhoods here in Brooklyn? Plenty. As your representative in Albany, I feel it is my job to stand up against this deal that would take power away from Brooklynites and give it to trans-national corporations.

If you are not aware of TPP, you are not alone. It has been negotiated by trade representatives of the 12 nations with advice from more than 600 corporate lawyers in private. Its details remained shrouded in mystery. The secrecy of the deal is the first sign that we as Brooklyn residents should be suspicious. If it is so good, why keep the negotiations so secret? 

I consider this treaty a threat to our rights as consumers, workers and most importantly, a threat to our rights as citizens. Since this would be an international treaty, TPP would stand above U.S. laws. That means a corporation could sue New York state if we pass a law they do not like. If we decide that we do not want an oil pipeline under Flatbush Avenue, an oil company could sue New York for lost profits. And they could win.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

If that oil company decided to sue New York, the case would eventually end up in something called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The ISDS would have the power to grant corporations compensation for laws and regulations. I have nothing against large corporations, but I believe that elected representatives should be making laws, not individuals bound by the interests of their shareholders.

My job as a state senator is to represent my constituents. While TPP might seem like an international issue, it impacts my ability to create laws for Brooklynites. We have fought hard to establish labor protection legislation. We have fought hard to create consumer protections. I think parents should know where the food they give their children comes from. I believe that if New York state decides to ban fracking, then we should be able to ban fracking free from the threat of lawsuits from trans-national energy companies. All of that could be lost with the passage of TPP. The freedom to legislate for the well-being of New Yorkers absent the threat of multi-billion dollar lawsuits is critical. Lawsuits initiated by trans-national companies and aimed at the taxpayer with the welcoming forum of ISDS curb our ability to set standards.

I work hard to understand the needs of my constituents. I know that most people don’t know about TPP. But it is time to mobilize around this issue. It is time to take a stance for democratic control over labor laws, food safety laws, environmental protection laws, and over the myriad dangers posed to our ability to govern ourselves.

Please, join me in opposing TPP. All of our local congressional representatives voted against Fast Track, the first step in imposing TPP. We need to keep the pressure up. Please call your congressional representative today and tell them that you oppose TPP. 

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