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Protests across North America Aim to Block 'NAFTA on Steroids'

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Workers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will unite in an Inter-Continental Day of Action Friday to stop a massive new trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership-commonly referred to as "NAFTA on steroids."

In the U.S., the immediate fight is to block a bill that would grant the president "fast track" authority to sign off on the TPP. Defeating fast track would likely stop the TPP.

Fast track is designed to swiftly pass trade deals, circumventing the standard Congressional procedures of hearings, debates, and resolutions.

But there has been considerable backlash against the undemocratic concept. In November, anticipating its introduction, 151 Democratic Representatives signed a letter to the president stating they were opposed and would vote no on fast track; 21 Republican Representatives also submitted an opposition letter.

Since the bill was introduced January 9, letters to Congress have flooded in from unions, environmental protection organizations, food safety organizations, public health entities, domestic manufacturers, domestic agriculture, advocates for democracy, and internet freedom activists-all urging all representatives to publicly denounce the bill. Some 564 organizations signed onto a January 27 letter opposing fast track, submitted by Citizens Trade Campaign.

The last time Congress granted the president fast track authority, in 2002, it only passed the House by a slim two-vote margin.

Twenty Bad Years

Today's marches, protest rallies, teach-ins, and mock funerals will highlight 20 years of failed trade policies.

When he signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, President Bill Clinton said the agreement would "create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone. Our administration will make this agreement a force for social progress as well as economic growth."

Twenty years later, NAFTA has proven the complete opposite for all the countries involved.

By threatening to move operations south, corporations forced U.S. workers to accept wage stagnation-fueling income inequality. The Economic Policy Institute has calculated the U.S. lost 700,000 jobs because of the trade deal.       

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