After years of hard work, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been stopped, knocked out by a mighty coalition of environmental, labor, health and community organizations.
It was a stunning, against-the-odds victory in the face of massive corporate support for the TPP, matched with championing by the Obama administration and backing by Republican Congressional leaders. But the House of Representatives, where we won over a majority, opposed the deal and stood in their way.
It was a battle fought community by community in Congressional districts across the country—on street corners and doorsteps, engaging thousands of people in the fight to protect jobs, food safety and the environment from this corporate power grab.
In New York, we collaborated closely with the Communication Workers of America, the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, the Alliance for Retired Americans and MoveOn.org, along with grassroots groups like the Big Apple Coffee Party, Politics Reborn and TradeJustice New York Metro.
We targeted key House members on Long Island, in New York City and upstate, holding dozens of press events, rallies, educational forums and other actions. We published numerous letters-to-the-editor, distributed thousands of fliers and engaged a broad range of allies across the Empire State—from immigrant groups to AIDS organizations.
In Queens, we held an educational event featuring Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist. Our target was Representative Joseph Crowley, a member of the Democratic House leadership. We followed up the event with months of petitioning in neighborhoods throughout his district to convince him to oppose the deal.
On Long Island, we spent months pressuring Representative Lee Zeldin. Working closely with our labor allies, we organized a rally outside his office with hundreds of people, as well as a mock funeral for the jobs that the deal would cost. On Staten Island, we rose at dawn to leaflet commuters at the ferry, urging them to call Representative Dan Donovan.
The Granny Peace Brigade, a group of singing senior citizens, was our “secret weapon” in Harlem, where they rallied outside Representative Charlie Rangel’s office. On Election Day, we distributed thousands of fliers outside of polling locations in his district—and even spoke with Rangel himself as he walked up to vote.
We enlisted the support of local and state elected officials. The Sierra Club’s Stephanie Low, one of our most important allies, worked with Council Member Helen Rosenthal to pass a New York City Council resolution against the deal. State Senator Jesse Hamilton circulated a sign-on letter to his legislative colleagues, while Attorney General Eric Schneiderman authored a strong op-ed, both citing the TPP’s threats to sovereignty. And Mayor Bill de Blasio led a huge press conference at New York City Hall where scores of elected officials denounced the deal.
It was a victory made possible by a lot of amazing activists, like Adam Weissman of TradeJustice New York Metro and Lisa Oldendorp of MoveOn.org, volunteering hundreds of hours of their time. It was made by possible by grassroots groups like the Big Apple Coffee Party, which organized an educational forum featuring progressive hero Jim Hightower. It was made possible by faith institutions like Long Island’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, which hosted several key events.
We took on titans of industry, along with President Obama and the Democratic and Republican establishments. But, along with scores of allies, we built the power we needed and applied pressure where necessary. And we proved, once again, that through grassroots organizing, people can defeat corporate influence.