Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO President

Tim Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO President

Today, The US Department of Commerce released a new report, United States of Trade, which is designed to make the case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.   In response to that report, Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga issued the following statement:

“The new report from the Department of Commerce does offer some good news about exports in Ohio.  It is encouraging that Ohio’s global exports were up last year over the previous year and I hope this trajectory continues.  However, a glaring omission must be pointed out.

“The United States global trade deficit grew last year to $505 billion dollars and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ohio’s import/export deficit for commodities increased in 2014 to $18 billion dollars, up from $16 billion in 2013.  So for the same period that the report was praising Ohio’s export increase we were in fact falling deeper in deficit.

“These imbalances stem from trade deals such as NAFTA and granting China “most favored nation” status that opens the door for American manufacturers to set up operations in these countries, where workers are routinely exploited, human rights are violated, the environment is not a consideration and monetary laws ignored. The facts clearly show that globalization and international trade are not lifting up workers and as a result we continue to hemorrhage good paying American manufacturing and supply jobs at great cost to our overall economy.

“The results are catastrophic — over the last decade 60,000 factories have closed in the United States and in Ohio we witnessed the loss of 320,000 manufacturing jobs.  In addition to this severe job loss in the private sector, unfair trade leads to shrinking public budgets that restrict the delivery of needed services and public works projects.

“If given a level playing field the American worker can compete with anyone anywhere.  A level playing field means not having to compete with poverty wages in China, Vietnam and other countries if the proposed “Fast Track“ of the Trans Pacific Partnership isn’t stopped. Not addressing the exploitation of workers in nations that the United States has trading relations with has created massive downward pressure on wages here and abroad.

“Global trade should help business and workers alike and unless we break the current flawed “Fast Track” process where the voices of American workers and consumers are silenced, we should expect more job loss and continuing wage decline. It doesn’t have to be this way.

“If Congress and the president work together and transparently on trade agreements they would hear Ohioans say we should use our global economic power and consumer might to negotiate deals that prioritize raising wages and shared prosperity,  In doing so, we can begin to rebuild our industrial economy, grow our middle class and shrink our national and state import/export deficits.”