Earlier this month I traveled our state, meeting with workers and businesses about the future of U.S. trade policy. Ohioans are sending one message, loud and clear: the last thing we need is another NAFTA.
Several years ago at my own expense, I toured a Mexican auto plant. It looked very similar to an American factory, with one key difference: the Mexican plant didn’t have a parking lot, because the workers there couldn’t afford to buy the cars they make.
Go around the world, and you see this same scenario across continents and industries. In Bangladesh, in the clothing factories, the workers don't get paid enough to buy the designer clothing they make. In Colombia, the workers in the flower industry don’t make enough to buy the flowers they help to grow. Go to China, where workers in an Apple factory can’t afford to buy the iPhones they are making.
Go almost anywhere in the world, in these developing countries where the U.S. either has trade agreements or where our trade policy has had such impact that companies in the United States have shut down, and we this same story.
These workers don't share in the wealth they create. This is what our trade deals force American workers to compete with—jobs that pay pennies per hour, and lead to a downward wage spiral across the globe.
Our trade deals amount to corporate handouts and worker sellouts. That’s why we cannot allow a fast track of Trans-Pacific Partnership – or TPP. We don’t need another trade deal negotiated in secret and rushed through the Senate. Right now it’s easier for lawmakers to get information on national security negotiations than trade negotiations. Staffers with top security clearances aren’t allowed to see documents alone, and even senators have to request special permission to see them. And we can take a guess at what they’re trying to hide—more corporate welfare.
Trade policy should ensure a level playing field for all companies competing in a global economy—not serve as a tool for the richest corporations to ship more jobs overseas.
Particularly not when we are facing stagnating wages, increasing middle class insecurity, and rising inequality at home. While corporate profits and CEO pay reach record highs, average wages are stagnating. Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of GDP.
We need to invest in supporting workers with a living wage, paid sick and family leave, and equal pay for equal work. And we need to invest in infrastructure and innovation to expand opportunities for average Americans.
We know that trade done right creates prosperity, and as a progressive, I want trade that provides an onramp to the middle class here at home and lifts workers from poverty in America and around the world—not another NAFTA.