The Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement is a bill that threatens the livelihood of some of the most hardworking people in New Orleans. The president says this is the most socially just trade bill ever. But New Orleans knows better.

Under similar circumstances, we watched as Congress rammed the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade bill similar to the TPP, through with the promise of increased exports. But the only thing NAFTA exported was our jobs. Over 33,000 New Orleanians lost their jobs after President Bill Clinton promised us a better, more just economy under NAFTA.

The TPP — like its older siblings NAFTA and Cental America Free Trade Agreement — has the potential to destroy the little dignity the American worker has left.

I must stand up for justice and equality when people in my community are threatened. But my responsibility does not have geographical bounds in New Orleans. As a social justice member within my faith community, I also realize that this bill has global implications.

At a time when our nation is increasing security at its borders, the president wants us to pass a trade bill that could force another wave of migrants to leave their homes in order to find jobs. The promise of factory jobs in urban centers at low pay encourages rural farmers to leave their homes and their livelihoods, jeopardizing the stability of local economies.

This is unfair to both the poor overseas and the workers in our community. The president’s wrong: This isn’t a win-win. It’s a lose-lose.

And what’s more? Congress is attempting to fast-track this bill to the president’s desk without proper public review. A trade bill this large and this consequential deserves caution and a thorough evaluation.

This week, the Senate and the House will vote on fast-tracking this legislation. If the fast-track bill passes, Congress would then vote on the TPP without the chance for our elected officials to negotiate any changes to the bill on behalf of their constituents, small businesses and the working class.

Why do I have a congressional representative if he doesn’t get the chance to do his job and advocate for me and the rest of his constituents?

As a person of faith and a proud New Orleanian, I urge Congressman Cedric Richmond and Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy to stand up and stop fast track.

If they take this step of courage, I can assure them that the faith community will walk with them the entire way against this injustice.

Robert Desmarais Sullivan


New Orleans