December 12, 2017
News Ticker

Trans-Pacific Partnership could sabotage the First Amendment

While America was worried about a 150 year old Flag, Hillary Clinton and Obama were busy chipping away at our 1st Amendment rights.

“TPP puts journalists, news media and whistle-blowers at risk of lawsuits or even criminal prosecution for exposing environmental pollution, product impurity or toxicity, corrupt business practice or other corporate malfeasance.”

Concerns about a provision that could sabotage the First Amendment rights of our members, especially journalists, have prompted the Pacific Media Workers Guild to oppose U.S. participation in a proposed 12-nation trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Guild Executive Committee voted in January to urge all U.S. senators and House representatives from within our Local’s primary coverage area of northern California, Nevada and Hawaii to reject the TPP.

Troubling to us is TPP Article 18.78 (QQ.8.H in early drafts), which bars unauthorized disclosure of corporate trade secrets. The provision purports to protect companies’ competitiveness and profitability. But it also puts journalists, news media and whistleblowers at risk of lawsuits or even criminal prosecution for exposing environmental pollution, product impurity or toxicity, corrupt business practice or other corporate malfeasance.

If Congress could rewrite the TPP before voting on whether the United States should be part of it, we could urge that Article 18.78 be deleted or revised to specify that it could not overturn constitutionally protected freedom of expression or of the press. But that’s not the case. Congress ceded that power when it approved trade-promotion, or “fast track,” authority for the U.S. president.

It means that Congress must approve or reject the TPP as a whole package and as presented by the president. In our view, that makes Article 18.78 a deal-killer.

The Guild in early 2015 spoke out against the secrecy of TPP negotiations and cautioned Congressmembers that by approving trade-promotion authority for the president, they would surrender their constitutionally prescribed advise-and-consent role in this matter.

Bernie Lunzer, president of our national Union, The NewsGuild-CWA, went further and opposed the TPP outright, and urged locals to do the same. Our Local declined at first to take sides on the trade pact itself, because journalistic ethics dictate that we stay neutral on most issues.

But we do speak out on matters affecting the ability of our journalist members to do their jobs, and TPP Article 18.78 meets that criterion.

What is more, we hope the Guild’s component units and their members will contact their Congressmembers (http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ offers an up-to-date directory), to the extent their bylaws and ethical standards allow, to urge that the United States stay out of the TPP.

The above commentary is by Richard Knee, chair of the Guild’s Legislative and Political Committee.

Reported by mediaworkers.org and America Rising

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*