Protecting Ohio Jobs from Unfair Trade

At forums I’ve held across our state, Ohioans have made clear their opinions on unfair foreign trade deals. This week I echoed your voices loud and clear in Washington: the last thing we need is another NAFTA.

Ohioans have felt the painful effects of these bad deals for years. This month I was in Dayton and met with Jimmy, who worked at Appleton Paper for 45 years. He was one of 400 workers laid off due to unfair trade in 2012.

George, from Warren, Ohio, wrote to me about the factory closures that have affected his whole family—his wife lost his job at GE in Ravenna when that plant closed; his brother-in-law lost his job at Ohio Lamp in Warren when that plant closed; and George’s own plant, WCI Steel, has closed its doors.

Gary in Continental, Ohio wrote about the devastating effects of NAFTA on his entire community. The number of jobs at his GM Powertrain Foundry has dwindled from more than 5,000 to just 1,000 today, with more potential layoffs to come in the next few years. He writes, “NAFTA wasn’t good for our community and foundry, because our iron casting business went to Mexico.”

We should not be fast tracking another bad trade deal that will only fast track more jobs overseas.

That’s why I voted against fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. We must also improve the fast track process, which could be used to pass trade deals that affect more than 60 percent of the world’s GDP and millions of American jobs.

TPP still doesn’t go far enough to level the playing field for American companies and American workers. It would even leave the door open for China to join the deal at a later date without so much as a vote in Congress. Without strong rules on who can join the TPP, we might as well be talking about the China Free Trade Agreement.

We have seen what happens when we make trade deals with countries who don’t follow the same labor, health, and safety rules that we do in this country: we get a flood of imports, our trade deficit goes up, wages go down, and factories shutter.

We owe it to Gary and George and Jimmy to take a long, hard look at this deal, and we owe it to Ohio’s working families to do more than rubber stamp a trade agreement that will shut down production in Bucyrus and move it to Beijing. That’s why I’m saying “no” to more bad trade deals that amount to nothing more than corporate handouts and worker sellouts.