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Trans-Pacific Partnership: What are the costs?

Statement from the Cooperative Federal Board of Directors

Cooperative Federal calls on our elected Representatives in the United States Congress to consider growing inequality and declining standards of living in Syracuse, and other small cities, in their deliberation over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We encourage a greater national debate on the distribution of wealth in our society and the ways that international trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (often referred to as "free trade agreements") work to exacerbate our society's problems.

Cooperative Federal is a credit union certified by the Department of the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution -- we serve mostly members living on low income in the urban core of Syracuse, New York. Our mission is to rebuild our local economy in ways that foster justice, to manage the aggregate assets of members in responsible ways, and to serve the financial needs of those underserved by conventional financial institutions. Since 1982, we have endeavored to fight against an ever-growing division between the wealthy few and the bulk of society; and we struggle against poverty, blight, neglect, exclusion and marginalization.

During these thirty-three years, we have seen our community systematically stripped of much of the manufacturing base -- such as once-solid employers like Syracuse China, New Process Gear, Chrysler, General Motors, Carrier and General Electric. Most of these jobs are lost forever, and new positions are overwhelmingly lower paid, more part-time or temporary, insecure and lacking in benefits. We have seen the impacts of these shifts in our everyday work as lenders and credit-counselors, attempting to save as much of our city as possible from foreclosure, tax-sale or from being transformed into a landscape of vacant brownfields, and unkempt rentals dominated by absentee landlords.

Time and time again, our Federal Government has made our work so much harder through the implementation of agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Since NAFTA and the WTO, New York State alone has lost 374,000 manufacturing jobs -- a body blow to communities like Syracuse. Accompanying the declining job base are increases in inequality; today the top ten-percent of New Yorkers capture over 50% of the income in the state, up from roughly 35% when we first opened our doors in 1982.

Recent studies have predicted that the median wage earner in the United States will lose out on real wages from the TPP. The average wage earner in our city makes $31,689 yearly and is well below the national average of $56,951.

We encourage thoughtful, thorough debate on these issues in both the halls of power in Washington and also in our community. We implore our elected representatives to join us in encouraging more, not less, discussion on these issues of highest local and national interest.

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*"People Over Profit" Graphic Credit: