Why, Kate, why? Oregon governor declares support for Trans-Pacific Partnership


ANTI-TPP blimp in Salem: Members of the United Steelworkers Legislative Committee fly a 25-foot protest blimp over the State Capitol Aug. 23 to denounce Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
ANTI-TPP blimp in Salem: Members of the United Steelworkers Legislative Committee fly a 25-foot protest blimp over the State Capitol Aug. 23 to denounce Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

SALEM—At a time when both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump say they’re against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has come out in favor of it. TPP is a NAFTA-style pact between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations, including three that have poor human rights records and no current trade agreement with the United States. Unions are strongly opposed to it.

TPP negotiations concluded last October, but to take effect, the pact must be approved by Congress.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Brown told The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board in an early August email that Brown supports ratification of the deal. It may be the first time Brown has supported such an agreement. Brown is a former state legislator from Southeast Portland who became secretary of state and then governor when John Kitzhaber resigned. She’s up for election this November.

“I’m disappointed by Governor Brown’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain in an official statement. “Oregon’s unions continue to stand united in our opposition to the TPP, because it’s a bad deal for working people in our state. We are still reeling from the impact of previous free trade agreements. Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) over 50,000 Oregon workers lost their jobs, and those lost jobs are certified by the Department of Labor as the direct result of free trade agreements.”

On Aug. 23, the United Steelworkers Legislative Committee held a rally on the front steps of the State Capitol to protest Brown’s support of the TPP.  Afterward, they met with the governor for nearly 45 minutes.

“She apologized for not informing labor before she announced her support,” said Bob Tackett, a member of Steelworkers Local 335 and executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

“She said she took her lead from Sen. (Ron) Wyden,” Tackett told the Labor Press. “We told her that she ought to talk to Sen. (Jeff) Merkley.”

Wyden, a Democrat, helped push a fast track vote through the Senate, and he strongly supports the TPP. Fast track, also referred to as trade promotion authority, allows for an up- or-down vote with limited debate and no amendments.

Merkley, the only Democratic senator from Oregon and Washington to oppose the TPP, says it puts American workers in direct competition with people earning a dollar an hour or even less overseas.

In a letter to a constituent that was sent to the Labor Press, Merkley said “such an unbalanced trade agreement would be devastating for many workers, families, and communities and put an inevitable downward pressure on incomes for ordinary Americans.

“The TPP has not meaningfully changed from past trade deals that have cost Americans good-paying jobs in several important areas,” Merkley wrote.


  1. TPP is a crappy deal for people and our nation. Only 5 of the 29 chapters have anything to do with trade. The rest has to do with the corporate takeover of multinationals such as Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks. The ISDS within the pact enables these corporations to sue governments for even ‘anticipated loss’ of profit’! Conversely, it prevents governments from suing these corporations. So BP could spill to their hearts’ content, and lower its safety standards with impunity. Big Pharma would eliminate the manufacture of generic drugs. Big Banks would be further deregulated to wreak more havoc on the world.
    Lobbyists wrote this treaty in secret and there’s a reason why.

  2. Tom Chamberlain is being misleading, 50,000 union workers may have lost their jobs, but what of the jobs gained? Nonfarm payrolls did nothing but increase in Oregon, until aftermath of 9/11 and then the housing market crash (neither of those were related to trade deals). Yes salaries took a dip, but we ended up with more people working. It is selfish for unions to only think of themselves.

    The self serving nature of unions is a good reason why society should take their positions with a grain of salt. Good for Gov. Brown for seeing through the nonsense.

    • Yes, what of the jobs gained? Jobs with less pay and less security than those lost. More people working for less…such a deal.
      If TPP passes, we will see assaults, through the Investor State Dispute clauses, on all regulations that any corporation considers threatening to their anticipated profits. Note especially the word “anticipated”…they don’t need to even demonstrate actual damage.
      The only benefits will be to corporate entities, who will not pass any of those on to the society you purport to be concerned about.

  3. We are already in the ISDS system, not signing TPP will not change that. The problems that exist with that system will continue to exist, until we get a leader who is capable of bringing the other stakeholders together to drive reform.

    Also, gaining low paying service sector jobs was not the fault of any trade deal, it is the fault of us consumers for driving demand in that sector.

    We can move service sector jobs and many other jobs at for-profit companies to scalable pay and benefits – – doing so will ensure that workers benefit as their respective companies do (from trade deals or otherwise).

    It is time to stop treating trade deals like the boogeyman and it is time to start dealing with the issues we face.


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