Obama Protested As He Pushes TPP At Nike
Obama in Portland: Anti-TPP protesters outside Nike condemn ‘corporate greed’
Tina Turner-Morfitt of Salem (left) protests outside the main entrance to Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, May 8, 2015, where President Obama is making his pitch about free trade. Protesters are opposed to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that President Obama says is “going to help our workers compete and will help our companies compete.” Kristyna Wentz-Graff/Staff
Chants of “TPP – just don’t do it” and “Corporate greed has got to go” rang through the air outside Nike headquarters in Beaverton on Friday morning, as President Obama prepared to push the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership inside.
More than 50 protesters from groups such as the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign and unions such as Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757lined Murray Boulevard with signs and loudspeakers, urging Congress not to give Obama “fast-track” authority to submit the trade pact to lawmakers for an up-or-down vote, with no amendments allowed.
The TPP has divided Oregon’s Democratic congressional delegation. Sen. Ron Wyden and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader support the deal. But Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter Defazio oppose it.
Elizabeth Swager, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, called the TPP “a trade deal that would benefit multinational corporations, but it’s at the expense of working Americans everywhere.” She condemned Nike’s record on labor and said it was telling that Obama chose the apparel giant to speak about the pact.
John Hively, a Portland bus driver for TriMet and a member of ATU Local 757, said fast-track legislation is “just a scam to ram through the TPP” and lamented the deal’s confidential nature.
“We only know a few things [about TPP] because most of it is top-secret,” Hively said.
Julie Carnahan is a costume designer with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 488and lives just down the street from Nike’s campus. She said there were “no labor unions involved with any of the negotiations.”
“If it’s so good for us, why aren’t we at the negotiating table?” she asked.
The protesters were a little late to the party. Pool reports from the White House press corps indicated that Obama arrived at Nike at 8:46 a.m. and did not see any protests. The largest group did not arrive until nearly 9 a.m.
Others were simply there hoping to catch a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. Noli Pagtakhan and his daughter Nhatalya, 15, stood outside the campus before the protesters arrived. They live a five-minute walk away. Pagtakhan, a nurse in the behavioral health unit at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, allowed Nhatalya to skip first period and half of second period at Beaverton Health and Science School.
“It’s a father-daughter bonding moment,” Pagtakhan said.
He added: “For me, seeing President Obama is like seeing One Direction.”