A picture of Representative Marcy Kaptur
Marcy K.
Democrat OH 9

About Rep. Marcy
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    by Representative Marcy Kaptur

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the very able gentleman from Wisconsin, Congressman Pocan, for organizing all of us this evening and for his indefatigable efforts to tell the truth about what is happening to the workers of our country and those around the world.

    I rise with you tonight because America--our wonderful country--has a huge ``good jobs'' deficit because we have a gigantic free trade deficit. Our trade policies export more U.S. jobs than U.S. products. More and more foreign imports come across our shores [[Page H145]] than we send goods out, and the gap grows wider every decade at extraordinary proportion. Never before in American history have so many good jobs been outsourced off our shores. America's workers have had income shortages--every family knows it--because America has had this jobs hemorrhage due to the flawed, Fast Tracked free trade agreements that have been ramrodded through this Congress.

    Since 1975, when Wall Street's free trade regimen began to lock down, America has amassed a $9.5 trillion trade deficit with the world. If you count up every year, numbers don't lie, and this has translated into a gigantic, unprecedented jobs loss of over 47.5 million lost American jobs--good jobs from coast to coast, living-wage jobs, jobs that have evaporated from our communities, jobs that have been shipped out. We know the places as we just look at the tags on any products-- Mexico, China, Vietnam, Korea, Bangladesh, Honduras, Guatemala, Turkey, El Salvador--to dozens of Third World nations--frankly, most very undemocratic--where workers are treated like a bonded class. Workers everywhere--here, too--are being treated like expendable parts. Yes, American jobs are being shipped out to penny-wage sweatshops behind the Iron Curtain of anonymous towns in distant countries most Americans will never visit.

    {time} 1700 Anonymity, worker exploitation, and hidden squalor are fundamental to free trade. And so are the stories of Americans who struggle to earn a living, who lose their jobs and are forgotten, are forgotten in their plight.

    In our country, the impact on the average American family has been a loss of real income of $7,000 a year. Imagine that. The public knows it.

    The people who elected me to Congress--and I thank them--have allowed me to be a voice, to put the ugly puzzle of outsourcing together. And I have made it my mission to travel the world to find the companies that fled our shores. And I have traveled to find them.

    I have lots of photos, and I have lots of interviews. And I have had time to talk to unemployed Americans too--far too many--and the exploited workers of developing nations and to visit the plants that have been displaced from this country and built elsewhere.

    The titans who run these global transnational corporations, their operatives, and the Wall Street giants that finance them couldn't care less about workers anywhere or the communities in which they live. And, frankly, these new bosses of global production don't care about democracy or the rule of law either. They pay whatever they want, and they can pay off as they see fit.

    I have seen workers making Maytag washing machines in Monterrey, Mexico. Those used to be made in Newton, Iowa. These Mexican workers don't earn enough to buy the very washing machines they make. And with the jobs lost from Newton, the poverty rate in Newton has dramatically increased in the town that Fred Maytag proudly helped build. However--I don't know if you have noticed--the quality of those machines has gone down too. Who can be proud of what is happening? I have visited the homes where those workers from Monterrey live and other maquiladora factory zones and have see firsthand their impoverished living standards.

    I have stood at a surreal location in Mexico following NAFTA's passage called Michigan-Ohio Avenues and witnessed the jobs outsourced from our country from a windshield wiper factory that used to be located in New York.

    I have met women in the garment industry from Honduras and El Salvador who earn 10 cents for every T-shirt they produce in those sweat shops down there, barricaded off behind barbed wire and outsourced from places like the Carolinas. The women are being paid 10 cents an hour for every T-shirt that then comes in here and is sold for $20 each at stores and shopping centers around the country. Meanwhile, the booming garment and textile industry of the Carolinas, like the furniture industry too, has all but disappeared, and the tens of thousands of jobs that went with them. I visited those massive shuttered factories, and they reminded me of the auto plants that existed in my industrial region.

    I have tracked furniture jobs to Vietnam and have seen child laborers perched with their bare feet on the edge of large wooden bowls that they sand and spray with lacquer paint, wearing no face masks, with no air filters, breathing in the fumes and chemicals certain to damage their fragile lungs and bodies.

    Let me just say in closing, as an Ohio Representative, we have lost over 5 million manufacturing jobs alone in northern Ohio since the passage of NAFTA, which I fought with every ounce of being that I had here in 1993. We lost that fight. A 12-votes switch here would have made the difference. And as I speak here today, another global company, Hugo Boss, a German-owned company, is shutting down a factory in Brooklyn, Ohio, where workers had their pay cut 17 percent 2 years ago to save that company. You can walk into any Hugo Boss outlet, and you can see men's suits selling for $1,200 apiece. What a tragedy. What a tragedy for our country. What a tragedy for workers globally.

    I will say to my wonderful colleague from Wisconsin (Mr. Pocan), thank you so much for doing this.

    In terms of China--and others will cover this more completely--just in the past year, 2013, the latest complete year of data, our country assumed $319 billion of trade deficit with the nation of China just in that year, just in that year with that one country. Because of that deficit, we have lost an additional 1,595,000 more American jobs, just with this one country in 1 year.

    The answer to balanced global growth is to pay workers a living wage and to respect their work, not exploit it. The answer to balanced growth is to stop the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and to pry open the closed markets of the world, starting with Japan, China, and Korea. And the answer to balanced growth and fair trade is to stop the hemorrhage of more jobs from this country by defeating any more deals like NAFTA and all of its offspring, and the Fast Tracking of more jobs that they are trying to do in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    It is time for America to stand up and for this Congress to stand up with the American workers and communities.

    Again, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me this evening.

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