Read the letter here
Dear President Biden,
I am reaching out today on behalf of the 203,000 members of the International Association of
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) to request your help in protecting
American workers. As you know, there is an ongoing effort at the World Trade Organization to
expand its waiver of intellectual property protections for American-made Covid-19 vaccines to
include American-made diagnostics and therapeutics. Expanding this so-called “TRIPS waiver”
would have a negative impact on America’s union workers and their families, and I urge you to
fight against these efforts by China, India, and other countries at the WTO that are seeking to
take American jobs.
Union members played a crucial role in combating Covid-19. For example, SMART members
converted existing hospital space and built field hospitals at the height of the pandemic, greatly
expanding the U.S. healthcare system’s capacity to treat a wave of sick patients who otherwise
would not have received care. Well before the pandemic began, our members helped build the
factories that ultimately manufactured Covid-19 therapeutics and vaccines.
The TRIPS waiver gave cutting-edge American technology to foreign rivals, with the objective
and expectation that those rivals would use that technology to build vaccine manufacturing
facilities abroad. Because of this WTO decision, rather than American workers building new
pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities here in the United States, foreign workers will build
those plants in other countries.
Expanding the waiver to remove protections for additional American-made medical products
would compound this problem. Hardworking Americans will lose out on jobs that, without these
WTO waivers, would have gone to them. America’s union workers – not our competitors in
China, India, and elsewhere – should reap the economic and employment benefits of American
innovation and technology.
Through your Build Back Better agenda, the administration has lifted and championed skilled
workers and American manufacturing. Our members strongly support these efforts. An
expansion of the TRIPS waiver, however, would directly oppose these shared goals and its
backbone of American workers.
We urge you to uphold the American workforce from unfair competition abroad by opposing the waiver expansion.
Joseph Sellers, Jr.