Workers urge Sen. Wyden to eschew trade bill

The president’s bill hinges on Oregon senator.

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A group of about 200 people gathered in downtown Portland to urge Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden to eschew a free-trade bill that would “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Demonstrators were mostly connected to labor groups as workers worry the international deal would be harmful, reports.

Supporters of the trade deals say they have opened up new markets for American goods, particularly from trade-dependent states like Oregon. But critics say they have largely benefited corporate interests while driving down the wages of workers in both the U.S. and other countries.  “Fast track is another word for exploiting workers here and in other countries,” said Ramon Ramirez, president of the Woodburn-based farmworkers union, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste.

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick said he takes his lead from former U.S. Labor Commissioner Robert Reich, who once supported the free-trade pacts but has “come to understand just how thoroughly rigged the game is.”

Or, as Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain put it: “We got NAFTA, we got CAFTA and the way I see it, workers got the ‘shaft-a.”

READ ON: Obama’s trade agenda hinges on Wyden as the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee.