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USW protests Fast Track in D.C.

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WASHINGTON—The United Steelworkers union organized a protest against Trade Promotion Authority, or “Fast Track,” trade legislation March 4, bringing in nearly 100 USW activists from a dozen key states.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard and Vice President Fred Redmond also joined with the AFL-CIO and dozens of other unions in signing a March 2 letter to Congress urging all members of the House and Senate to oppose Fast Track legislation.

The largest delegations in the USW protest came from Pennsylvania and Ohio, but others came from New England, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas and California. Nearly 100 protesters in all participated in the event, the USW said.

Fast Track authority gives the White House the power to submit international trade agreements to Congress for an expedited vote, allowing only limited debate and no amendments.

Since the Nixon administration, Fast Track authority has been sold to the American people as a way to advance trade deals that are job creation measures, the letter to Congress said.

“But these deals, written largely by and for the world's largest corporations, don't create jobs,” the letter said. “Their main purpose isn't even related to trade. It's to enshrine rules that make it easier for firms to invest offshore and increase corporate influence over the global economy.

“Fast Track is an undemocratic, unaccountable and completely unacceptable way to develop economic policies that affect us all,” the letter said. “America needs a new version of trade negotiating authority that brings the process out from behind closed doors and prioritizes making life better for people, instead of just making life easier for corporations.”