A Gold Standard for Workers? The State of Labor Rights in Trans-Pacific Partnership Countries

Source: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), [2016]

This report seeks to shed light on the state of labor rights and commitments among the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partner countries. Respect for labor rights is at the core of increasing jobs, raising wages and creating broadly shared prosperity. The Obama administration had promised that the TPP would be a 21st century agreement, a “gold standard,” that would promote and respect labor rights, and raise wages for U.S. workers and workers across the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately, the grim conditions facing workers in TPP partner countries were not effectively addressed in the TPP text or consistency plans. Many commitments to improve labor rights remain vague, and the proposed enforcement scheme relies on the discretion of the next administration. The failure of the TPP to incorporate needed improvements to labor commitments that already have proved themselves inadequate in previous agreements belies the agreement’s stated commitment to workers. It is clear that, as currently drafted, the TPP would increase corporate profits and skew benefits to economic elites, while leaving workers to bear the brunt of the TPP’s shortcomings, including lost jobs, lower wages and continued repression of worker rights….