By Frederick H. Lowe
The National Black Church Initiative, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition that represents 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations with 15.7 million African-American members, has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it would it further eliminate needed manufacturing jobs in the African-American community.
Rev. Anthony Evans, the organization’s president, urged members to tell their Congressmen to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He also urged the Congressional Black Caucus to stand with black unemployed workers and not with well-heeled lobbyists who constantly undermine development in the black community.
Further, Evans accused the Obama administration of not putting policies in place to close the enormous unemployment gap that has disproportionately affected black workers since the era of President Ronald Reagan. Reagan served as president from 1981 to 1989.
“There is no other institution that understands acutely the multifaceted issues surrounding black unemployment other than the black church which deals with the implications on a daily basis,” Rev. Evans said.
African-American churches have been hit hard by the high rate of unemployment and the high number of mortgage foreclosures among its members. Economic hardships that have reduced attendance and donations for black churches.
On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate for May in the African-American community was 10.2%, up from 9.6% in April. The jobless rate in May for whites 4.7 %, 6.7% Hispanics and 4.1% for Asians.
Rev. Evans took issue with the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries. It is not known what is included in TPP, but previous trade agreements, beginning the North American Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in January 1994 under President Bill Clinton, have led to the loss 682,000 jobs, 61% of which were manufacturing jobs, said Robert Scott, director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it cost black workers 281,100 high-paying manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2011, said Scott, author of the 2013 research paper, “Trading away manufacturing advantage: China trade drives down U.S. wages and benefits and eliminates good jobs for U.S. workers.”
The United States Senate has given President Barack Obama a green light to go ahead with the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA), which is the right to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Black men have lost thousands of stable, good paying manufacturing jobs because of international trade deals.
Now it is up to the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on TPA. In the House, President Obama will face a much tougher time.
If the House supports President Obama’s TPA, he will have fast track authority to get the deal done.
A vote is expected soon, and black men should be very concerned because previous trade agreements coupled with the Great Recession, mass incarceration and low-wage jobs have wreaked financial havoc in the African-American community.
“Given the fact this economic recovery has been slow and coupled with low and moderate wages, we cannot support an agreement that will eventually eliminate tens of thousands of jobs from the black community,” Rev. Evans said.