Larry Cohen to speak Saturday at TPP town hall meeting

Trans-Pacific Partnership Town Hall

Iowa Memorial Union — Saturday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

Photo by Adam Burke
Photo by Adam Burke

Prominent activist Larry Cohen will speak at the University of Iowa Memorial Union Saturday evening as part of a series of Iowa town hall meetings focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and efforts aimed at stopping it. The event is organized by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund.

Cohen served as the immediate past president of Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 workers in private and public sector employment in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. He is the chairman of the board of directors for the Democracy Initiative and also for Our Revolution, the post-primary spinoff of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

The trade deal would cut tariffs between 12 countries — the U.S., Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru — and is intended to boost economic growth through trade. The deal has faced criticism, including concerns about private companies having undue influence over national and local policy and allegations that the negotiations were secretive.

In order to go into effect, at least six countries — including the U.S. and Japan — would need to ratify the deal by February 2018.

Hugh Espey, executive director of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, said the group views the trade deal as an election issue. The event is an opportunity for voters to learn where candidates stand on the issue.

“The TPP is a trade bill and people might think that it won’t impact them, but it will. It will impact consumers. It will impact farmers. It will impact everyone both across the globe and the day-to-day lives of people here in Iowa,” he said.

Espey highlighted concerns with a particular section of the agreement, called an investor-state dispute settlement clause. Critics worry that the clause could allow a company to sue a government to strike down an ordinance or other regulation that impinges on the company’s ability to make a profit.

“With the TPP it’s all about pushing back and taking back corporate power. If we want an economy that works for everyone, we need to know what we can do to fight back,” Espey said.

The Iowa City event is part of a series of free town halls across the state including events in Ames, Des Moines, Waterloo and Davenport.

Learn more about the town hall events and RSVP here:

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