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Pacific Trade Summit Draws Labor Day Protest

CHICAGO (WBBM) -- This Labor Day, opponents of a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries protested what they see as another assault on labor, the environment and healthcare.

SEIU Local 1 president Tom Balanoff is among those who blame NAFTA for sending thousands of American jobs overseas and are hoping to avoid a repeat.

About 250 people - mostly union members and their supporters - gathered in Grant Park and then marched over to the south Michigan Avenue hotel where negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership are meeting this week.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Nancy Harty Reports


Arthur Stimoulis, with the Citizens Trade Campaign, doesn't buy the Obama administration's claims that the agreement will open up foreign markets to American products.

He says the U.S. already has access to 80 percent of the markets represented by the 8 countries in the talks.

Protesters claim it's really about extending drug patents, limiting environmental controls and exploiting cheap labor in developing countries.

They plan to tell negotiators to come up with a new deal or scrap it.

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