Seattle, WA – On July 29 and 30, Pacific Northwest People Over Profit (PNW POP), along with other organizations, rallied hundreds of people to protest the ministerial meetings taking place in Seattle for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
APEC is a forum in which governments and big business executives collude to negotiate free trade agreements and frameworks that impose the harsh consequences of neoliberalism on workers within the Asia-Pacific region. The act of protesting neoliberal policies is not unfamiliar to Seattle or the global community, as evidenced by the successful ousting of the WTO in 1999 and APEC in 2019 by the people of Seattle and Chile, respectively.
On Saturday, July 29, the community rallied together at the People’s Summit, a counter-summit to APEC. Eni Lestari, chairperson of International Migrants Alliance and the keynote speaker opened the counter-summit by saying, “Workers and migrants must stand side by side. We must understand global capitalism because it is the root cause of our suffering.”
After the keynote speaker, a panel of organizers spoke on the effects these disastrous trade deals would have on workers in the Philippines, Adidas workers, and logistics workers in the U.S.
“APEC’s claim of building a resilient and sustainable future for all is a lie!” said Clio Jensen, an organizer with UNITE HERE Local 8 who spoke on the panel. “What these deals really aim to do is build the resiliency of a deeply exploitative capitalist system.”
After the panel, 15 different organizations held workshops to build solidarity and further analyze how free trade deals harm workers, migrants, women and the environment. To quote Gemini Gnull, an organizer with Climate Alliance of the South Sound, “From the Philippines to the Navajo nation, rip and ship extraction devastates ecologies and economies for the benefit of the ruling class. This is environmental racism, plain and simple.”
On Sunday, July 30,a passionate crowd of over 600 people took to the streets in protest against APEC, commencing their march at Cal Anderson Park and culminating in a powerful rally that included the strategic blocking of the convention center’s doors.
At the park, Hanna Giugler, a rank-and-file Teamster at Local 174 spoke about the gains Teamsters achieved in their recent tentative agreement with UPS. “We Teamsters have learned from past contracts that we need to fight and show the company that we are the ones that make UPS billions of dollars every year! Every gain in this contract is because of militant teamsters pushing and upholding class-struggle unionism.” The neoliberal agenda of APEC aims to build “supply chain resiliency” that would threaten the ability of logistics workers to organize, and ship jobs overseas as NAFTA did in 1994.
After the initial speeches at Cal Anderson Park, the crowd marched towards the Washington State Convention Center where APEC meetings were currently being held, chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, corporate trade has got to go,” “No to APEC! No to war!” “APEC, let’s stop it, put people over profit” and “APEC, APEC, spewing lies, they don’t care if people die!”
At the convention center, organizers rallied and parked a truck in front of the entrance, blocking off those inside and forcing them to listen to the people’s demands. On top of this truck, an impromptu stage was created where organizers gave speeches.
Daniel Felde, a member of the ILPS US’s steering committee, stated, “Institutions like APEC, and free trade deals like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, don’t exist to solve our problems, they exist to make a profit – always at the expense of the people!” The PNW People Over Profit coalition plans to continue coordinating actions throughout August as ministerial meetings continue.
To stay connected and up to date on mobilizations, text PNWPOP to 833-576-2920.