UE Urges President Biden to Remove Special Corporate Rights from Trade Agreements

November 2, 2023

UE today joined over 200 other labor, consumer, health, human rights, faith, and other organizations in a letter to President Biden urging him to fulfill his stated position against Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and eliminate ISDS terms in existing free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties.

As the letter explains:

Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), embedded in numerous trade and investment agreements, has created a global governance regime that prioritizes corporate rights over those of governments, people, and the planet.

These rules give special rights to multinational corporations that are not available to domestic businesses. If a corporation alleges that a government action, such as the banning of a toxic chemical or rejection of a mining permit, violates their special corporate rights, ISDS provides the corporation the ability to sue a government for compensation outside of the countries’ domestic legal and court systems.

ISDS claims are often in the millions or billions of dollars. An unaccountable three-person tribunal decides the fate of each case. The tribunal can even decide a company should be paid for the “expected future profits” it may have earned in the absence of the government policy in question.

The ISDS regime has been especially detrimental to public health, climate and environmental protections, Indigenous land rights, financial regulations, and democratic sovereignty.

Other unions and organizations signing the letter include the AFL-CIO, SEIU, the United Steelworkers, the American Federation of Teachers, Public Citizen, the National Farmers Union, and the Sierra Club.