Labor unions and environmental organizations are employing a festooned blimp and recreational vehicles in a campaign intended to prod Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden to halt a U.S. trade agreement with Pacific nations.
The groups want Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, to oppose a measure that would "fast track" U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, The Wall Street Journal
The measure is sought by President Barack Obama so that the Trans-Pacific Partnership — like similar trade deals — would be subject to an up-or-down congressional vote without amendments, the Journal reported. The trade agreement
is a precursor to a new expanded free trade deal that would include the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Wyden is negotiating the fast-track legislation with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. The stance he takes is likely to sway fellow Democrats.
"I want to believe it's not his personal position, but it's a position he's been brought into, so it's a position we have to pressure him to move off of," said Jeff Klatke, president of an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees chapter.
The high-tech, manufacturing, and agricultural industry in Oregon are inclined to favor fast-tracking. Opponents are a diverse group. Unions and environmentalist tend to be against. Some grassroots conservative
and left-wing voices
are also opposed.
Union-backed opponents are trailing Wyden around the state, rallying at his events as well as outside his home and office, and even protesting outside the home his wife has in New York.
"The only way we're going to get these guys to make the right decision is get out here and put some pressure on," said Rogue Robertson of the Fair Trade Campaign, the Journal reported.
Wyden is on record as being against the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership though he believes that a successful outcome could create well-paid jobs, the Journal reported.
"In Oregon we produce more blueberries than what we can consume, so if we don't have good export possibilities, we're just going to choke on our own production," said blueberry grower Doug Krahmer, who backs a trade deal.
Antitrade union campaigners warn that if Wyden sticks with the pro-trade camp they might work to defeat him in the Democratic primary when his term expires in 2016, according to the Journal.
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