A Democratic U.S. senator from Ohio supports the president in seeking extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and enforcement of existing trade laws as part of legislation extending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said including Trade Adjustment Assistance as part of the FTAs is critical in protecting U.S. workers and the U.S. economy.
“We have seen over the last several years that the manufacturing sector of our economy has suffered disproportionately, millions of good paying jobs have been lost and manufacturing now accounts for 10 percent of our employment,” Brown said noting it was more than double that 20 years. “We need to focus on retraining workers who are displaced because of previous bad trade deals.
“Thousands of Ohio workers have watched their jobs move to Mexico or Central America,” he said Wednesday during a media teleconference. “With a fragile economic recovery, now is not the time to pass more-of-the-same trade agreements that have shipped jobs overseas and undermined Ohio manufacturing. Taking care of Ohio and American workers should be our first priority. That means passing a long-term extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance to keep Ohio workers and manufacturers competitive and ensure that they can get retrained for 21st-century jobs.”
The TAA is a federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs, work hours or wages because of an increase in imports. The program provides training for another job or career as well as job search allowances and relocation allowances.
The TAA has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was introduced in the early 1960s.
Five companies in Auglaize County, including one in Wapakoneta and one in St. Marys, were eligible to receive assistance through the program, according to statistics from 1994-2010 report. A report on the Certified Trade Adjustment Assistance Companies shows 366 employees were eligible.
J.B. Tool and Machine inc., of Wapakoneta, qualified for help for 150 employees. The company, now closed, reported the layoff date would be Dec. 31, 2001. Nakano USA, of St. Marys, qualified for 15 employees with a potential layoff date of Jan. 19, 1998.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told news media that now is not the time to advance these trade agreements.
“They are the wrong medicine at the wrong time for this economy,” Trumka said. “We need a new approach to trade, not the same broken deals that send jobs offshore and benefit multinationals but not working people.
“If we want an economic future that is better than our past, we need to use a jobs lens to look honestly at the specific rules in our own trade laws and trade agreements, the partners we choose and their values,” he said. “Old Bush-era deals are not the answer. We can and must do better to create good jobs here at home that fuel our economic growth and rebuild our economy.”
In the Dow Jones newswires, Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, said he hopes the three free-trade deals win Senate approval this year, even by the August recess.
Portman, who served as President George W. Bush’s trade representative, helped gain passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
“I am amazed that the administration is willing to risk losing these trade agreements ... by their insistence on adding what is a very controversial issue,” Portman said. “We should pass all three — I would support them all.”