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Economy & Business

Casey Says 'Fast-Track' Agreement Would Hurt Workers

Speaking to reporters outside a Braddock union hall Friday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said he opposes so-called "fast-track" legislation which, in a few weeks, is up for a vote in Congress. 

The Trade Promotion Authority Legislation, or "fast-track," legislation would allow President Obama to submit trade agreements to Congress for up or down votes without amendments. Those opposed say its undemocratic. Those in favor say other countries won’t make good offers in trade talks if they know Congress could change things.

“Trade Promotion Authority when its enacted limits or circumscribes what Congress can do, and it also puts a trade agreement on what’s called a ‘fast-track,' so it gets consideration that other pieces of legislation don’t get," Casey said. "Some would argue that’s a good thing. I would argue that it's an area of great concern.”

This agreement means the United States would be in agreement with 11 other countries. This would affect 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Casey likened this agreement to 1994’s North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was a smaller agreement than the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement would be.

“Should we not have the same concerns about worker dislocation or job loss. I would argue the answer to that question is 'yes,'” he said.

He said the legislation could allow countries with low wages and poor labor rights records to undercut labor norms in the United States.

“On so many of these agreements,” said Casey, “it seems that every time, despite a lot of promises a trade agreement is proposed, Pennsylvania gets the short end of the stick. The short end of the stick when it comes to wages and the short end of the stick when it comes to worker protections.”