President Barack Obama faces protests and criticism when he visits Nike headquarters in Oregon Friday to pitch a proposed Asian trade deal.
“Just don’t do it,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a critic of the trade pact who announced his bid this week for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“Nike epitomizes why disastrous unfettered free-trade policies during the past four decades have failed American workers, eroded our manufacturing base and increased income and wealth inequality in this country,” Sanders wrote to Obama urging him to cancel the visit.
“It is no secret why Nike is supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This would increase the profits of Nike,” Sanders said, “but do nothing to encourage Nike to create one manufacturing job in this country. It would simply make Nike more money and increase the compensation packages of its executives.”
Critics planned protest demonstrations outside an Obama fund raising event Thursday evening in Portland, and outside Obama’s event at Nike Friday in Beaverton.
“Oregonians aren’t going to sit idly by and watch our livelihoods be shipped overseas,” said Elizabeth Swager, director of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. “We’ll be out there in numbers.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this week that the trade pact now being negotiated would be different from past deals because it would include stronger language aimed at protecting jobs.
“The President is looking forward to visiting the Nike headquarters and using it to illustrate how a responsible trade agreement that includes enforceable labor and environmental standards would strongly benefit middle-class families and the American economy,” he said.