Saturday's rally to "Stop TPP" might have been in a lower level of the downtown Davenport Public Library, but Josephine Ironshield found it, no problem.
Ironshield, of Bettendorf, learned about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP event from a friend and attended to get more information. "I learned a lot today," she said.
The anti-TPP rally was sponsored by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and featured Larry Cohen, who chairs the board of Our Revolution, the successor organization to the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders.
Cohen, who described himself as a "Sanders zealot," is the former leader of the CWA, or Communications Workers of America. He spoke on both the content of the trade pact legislation, and on timelines when it might be considered by Congress.
Taking action was stressed, down to having members of the 50-person audience practice phone calls with one another. They aimed to finesse ways to recruit others to their position.
Steve Abbott, president of the Iowa State Council for the CWA, explained the TPP agreement is 5,500 pages long, and said the public wasn't informed about it for five years.
In addition, there are almost 700 groups organized against TPP in the U.S., in all age groups, Abbott said. A resident of Waterloo, he is a Davenport native and graduate of West High School.
"I am scared to death about the TPP," he said.
The Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce has a different view of the legislation. Henry Marquard, director of government affairs, said the chamber supports TPP to allow the U.S. access to more foreign markets.
"Access to markets is crucial, since manufacturing is the largest sector of our economy," he said, adding there is threat to jobs in the Quad-Cities.
Marquard also called for a crackdown on unfair foreign practices. "The U.S. should address practices such as currency manipulation or 'dumping,' which puts our businesses at an unfair disadvantage," he said.
Cohen takes the country's lead in opposing the pact, and "shines the light in dark corners and fights the evil of Wall Street," Abbott said to introduce the featured speaker.
Cohen explained that TPP is on "fast-track" legislation, and probably headed for an up-or-down vote in Congress. He emphasized his greatest concerns are in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The up-or-down vote likely will come between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"It's up to us to keep up the pressure on it," Cohen said. In the Quad-Cities, it was noted, U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, have come out against TPP.
Cohen said some 50 members of the House have not stated a public position on the pact, and that's where the focus should be. "Right now they don't have the votes, and they also don't want to make this an election issue," he said.
Most people support trade, Cohen said, such as for the agricultural sector of the economy. But TPP does not include enough protections for workers, and there's not sufficient enforcement measures.
Cohen took questions and comments from the crowd, including from Larry Peinert, Davenport, who attended the session with his wife, Barb. It's been mostly forgotten, Peinert said, that one reason for TPP is to counter China.
President Barack Obama seeks to organize an economic ring around China, Peinert said, to help counter its influence in the area and improve the strategic position of the United States.
China accounts for half of the current U.S. trade deficit, Cohen said. "That's a huge factor in their wealth."
Opponents of TPP have a big job ahead, Cohen said. "But it's much more manageable as the other side doesn't have the votes. We have to stay on it."