RN Delegation Lobbies, Protests in Sacramento to Stop TPP, Fast Track

RNs at Tuesday's protest against TPP in Sacramento

Dozens of nurses and supporters gathered Tuesday in Sacramento, to protest what they say is the REAL “trade” being faced by the U.S. and 11 other countries, under an impending, secretive trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Public health in exchange for corporate profits.

“The TPP is going to cause a lot of harm to people in this country,” emphasized Kaiser Oakland RN Kathy Donahue, during a rally at the Sacramento offices of PhRMA, the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry. RNs are particularly concerned about the major risks the TPP poses to public health as a result of numerous provisions written by corporate lobbyists—including inflating drug costs, threatening food safety, and nullifying environmental protections.

“Senior citizens are not going to be able to buy their drugs at the rate they have been in the past,” said Donahue, citing a 12-year monopoly drug pricing that would be given to global healthcare corporations. “HIV and AIDS patients may no longer be able to afford medication. Families may no longer be able to afford medications for their child."

Earlier in the day, Donahue joined RNs Diane McClure (South Sacramento Kaiser) and Dolores Trujillo (Kaiser Roseville) for a meeting at the offices of Congressman Ami Bera, to lobby against “Fast Track” authority, which would allow the TPP to slide through Congress unchallenged.

“We expect congressman Bera to be a champion on this issue. The TPP undermines health protections for our community,” says Trujillo.

Nurses are visiting several members of Congress - including Congress members Scott Peters and Susan Davis in San Diego, and Norma Torres in Ontario.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee recently said, “I join the vast majority of Americans, from both parties, in opposing Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If the U.S. is going to pursue a free trade agreement in the Pacific, Congress needs to have public debates and hearings so the deal is fair and the American people know what’s in it”—a sentiment RNs say they hope for from all congress members they are visiting this week.

After the Bera visit, the nurses reconvened at PhRMA’s offices, now dozens strong, along with supporters from the Sacramento Central Labor Council, to demand a stop to Fast Track and the TPP. Chanting, “Stop TPP now!” the group marched down K street, then into the lobby, demanding to speak with a PhRMA rep. The gigantic pharmaceutical corporation responded by locking down the elevators and stairs.

“We’re here to let PhRMA know we are against fast track and the TPP!” Donahue said, in a raucous rally the group held in the lobby, in lieu of being allowed onto PhRMA’s floors. “We’re giving a loud message: Stop TPP now!”

Supporters from the Sacramento Central Labor Council also voiced solidarity with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, in the nurses’ fight against TPP.

“What you’re doing is working,” said Robert Longer, Legislative-Political Director of the Communications Workers of America. “If we can stop Fast Track, we can stop the TPP. We can protect your patients—our health, our safety. Keep up the good work; we are all fighting the same fight, and we are going to win this thing!”

Holding a giant prescription pill bottle breaking down the inflated costs of medicine under the TPP, and a banner warning “TPP, Fast Track Puts Our Health in Danger!” the nurses and supporters managed to disrupt the morning at PhRMA’s otherwise quiet offices. And at the end of their spirited rally, they left behind, in the spacious lobby, the echo of their final chanted words: “We’ll be back! We’ll be back!”

For more information on Fast Track/TPP: