Strickland calls Portman ‘The best senator China’s ever had,’ reports back to steelworkers on trade proposals after roundtable discussion in January
COLUMBUS, OH — Today Ted Strickland joined steelworkers and local officials at the United Steelworkers Local 1104 union hall in Lorain to discuss his proposals to stop unfair trade deals and to highlight the contrast between himself and Senator Portman on trade policy.
In January, after layoffs and idling at Republic Steel and U.S. Steel in Lorain were announced, Strickland held a roundtable discussion with steelworkers at this same union hall to discuss the importance of the U.S. Steel industry and his commitment to keeping jobs in America — and at today’s event Strickland reported back to the community about the specific proposals he will pursue in the U.S. Senate to crack down on these unfair trade deals. Bad trade policies have been blamed for layoffs and idling at both Republic Steel and U.S. Steel in Lorain and for massive steelworker layoffs across northern Ohio. Strickland also recently held a three day, eight city “No More Terrible Trade Deals Tour” across Ohio, holding events with workers and outside locations that had lost jobs due to foreign outsourcing following the passage of unfair trade deals supported by Senator Portman.
"As the son of a steelworker, I find what is happening in Lorain outrageous and unacceptable — the workers who lost their jobs here are a powerful example of why we need trade policies that put Ohio’s interests first, and a senator who will actually fight for working people,” said Ted Strickland. “In the U.S. Senate I will continue my strong, consistent opposition to unfair trade policies. We need to stop these deals from being negotiated in secret behind our backs, stand up to China when they try and get new trade protections like Market Economy Status, and demand aggressive, accountable enforcement from our own government when other countries break the rules. But when it comes to trade, I believe Portman is the best senator China’s ever had — he voted for Permanent Most Favored Nation Status For China and 8 times for unfair, job killing trade deals that have shipped hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs overseas. Just like the ultimate Washington insider that he is, Portman is pushing the agenda of the wealthy and the well connected while working Ohioans pay the price, but in the U.S. Senate I'll fight for our working people because that where I’m from and that’s who I care about.”
Strickland’s proposals to crack down on unfair trade deals focus on four central areas:
Trade Deals Can No Longer Be Negotiated In Secret By Special Interests. When trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors with the help of special interest lobbyists, it is no surprise that working people lose. Strickland will fight to make trade negotiations more transparent and to increase stakeholder involvement by calling for the draft of any trade deal to be made public 90 days before Congress votes to authorize Fast Track Authority, and for a period of public comment to proceed the vote. This kind of transparency will make it easier for workers, interest groups and concerned citizens to understand what kind of trade policies our government is negotiating and to make their voices heard. And it will allow the U.S. Senate adequate time to review these proposals and offer input.
No More Bad Trade Deals. Strickland believes we cannot level the playing field for workers when Washington insiders like Senator Portman are rubberstamping unfair trade deals like NAFTA, CAFTA, Permanent Most Favored Nation status for China and voting to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That is why Strickland has consistently opposed these harmful trade deals, and will continue to do so as in the U.S. Senate.
Oppose China’s Attempt To Gain New Trade Advantages Like Market Economy Status. China is currently lobbying to gain a new trade status – Market Economy Status – that would make it harder for the U.S. to fight back against unfair subsidies and stop China from dumping products like steel into our country. The situation has recently intensified because some global trade rules may expire this December. Given China’s lack of transparency and history of unfair practices, Strickland opposes granting China New Market Economy Status — and today released a letter to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Trade Representative urging the Administration to take a formal position against granting China this new trading status.
Aggressive, Accountable Enforcement. Leaders from both political parties promised that labor and human rights protections in existing trade agreements were strong and were being enforced – but the truth is they aren’t. In 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Labor “do not systemically monitor and enforce compliance with FTA labor provisions,” and that these entities generally have not been “identifying compliance problems, developing and implementing responses, and taking enforcement actions.” One analysis found that the Department of Labor has “only resolved one of five submitted complaints, that DOL is unable to meet key deadlines, and that many stakeholders are not even aware of the process for submitting complaints.” This is unacceptable. In the U.S. Senate, Strickland will hold agencies like the DOL and the U.S. Trade Representatives accountable by requiring timely updates about the status of their enforcement actions, and will work to increase the capacity of these agencies to carry out their enforcement duties so that we can stop other countries from cheating on these trade deals and hurting American workers.
On trade, the Columbus Dispatch wrote that “the voting records of Strickland and Portman are polar opposites.” Senator Portman has been called a “Dedicated Outsourcer;” supported 8 unfair trade deals; voted to grant China Permanent Most Favored Nation Status; refused to crack down on unfair Chinese steel imports as United States Trade Representative; and called efforts to stop Chinese currency manipulation “counter-productive.” Additional information about Portman’s record on trade is available at www.BeltwayRob.com.