WARREN, OH – As the Obama Administration finalizes negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Congress prepares to debate “fast track” authority for more NAFTA-style trade agreements, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Mahoning Valley workers to stand up for American jobs and call for fair trade that puts American workers and businesses first.
“Our trade deals amount to corporate handouts and worker sellouts,” Brown said. “While the talent and tenacity of American workers hasn’t changed, their ability to compete has been hamstrung by NAFTA-style trade deals. Trade done right creates prosperity – leveling the playing field for all companies, strengthening the middle class, and lifting workers from poverty. But we cannot allow another trade deal negotiated in secret to shortchange our workers and ship jobs overseas. The last thing we need is another NAFTA.”
At UAW Local 1112 today, Brown joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-3); Ken Lortz, director of United Auto Workers Region 2-B; Tim Burga, president, Ohio AFL-CIO; and a former RG Steel worker who lost his job due to unfair trade practices.
“American working families need trade policy that strengthens labor and human rights, protects us from unsafe imports, and promotes the export of goods instead of jobs,” Lortz said. “No trade deal has ever been stopped under fast track procedures and these failed trade deals have a very poor track record. As a result of NAFTA, we have lost over 700,000 jobs lost to Mexico and, as a result of permanent normal trade relations with China, we have lost over 3.2 million jobs.”
The Obama Administration is conducting TPP talks under the leadership of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and is seeking fast track authority to expedite congressional consideration of the agreement when it is completed. Fast track lapsed in 2007. The TPP is a proposed trade agreement that currently includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Congress is preparing to give the Administration renewed fast track authority, known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to conclude TPP negotiations, as well as other trade initiatives. In the past, fast track authority has resulted in NAFTA-style trade deals that have shipped jobs overseas, shuttered Ohio manufacturing facilities, and given handouts to the biggest multinational corporations.
Under #NotAnotherNAFTA, Brown is leading the opposition to fast track and TPP in the Senate and demanding trade policy that puts American jobs first. Additionally, Brown has introduced a package of legislative proposals to support American manufacturing.
Earlier this week, Brown introduced legislation that would improve enforcement of trade laws and strengthen U.S. industries’ ability to fight back against unfair foreign trade practices. The Leveling the Playing Field Act would restore strength to antidumping and countervailing duty laws that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies.
In February 2015, Brown introduced a bill to extend and improve Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), set to expire in September. TAA provided retraining assistance to more than 20,000 Ohio workers between 2009 and 2014, but the current program leaves out workers who lose their jobs to countries like China – with which the U.S. does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – or to workers in the service sector. Brown’s bill – the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act – would extend the reauthorization for TAA and expand eligibility requirements to reflect 21st century realities.
Brown has led the fight against currency manipulation in the Senate. He was the lead sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would stand up for American manufacturers by punishing countries like China that cheat by manipulating currency. Brown’s bipartisan legislation, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, would use U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to American manufacturers caused when countries unfairly undervalue their currency to give their exports an unfair price advantage. The bill would provide consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment—all without adding a dime to the federal budget. Brown has also urged the Administration to include protections against currency manipulation in TPP.