Dingell, Local Workers Speak Out Against Fast Track Trade Plan
Dearborn, MI – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) was joined by local workers and labor leaders to speak out against Trade Promotion Authority, or Fast Track, a plan that would allow future trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to be rushed through Congress with little transparency or debate, and without any ability to make changes.
The legislation, which the House of Representatives could consider as early as next week, also does not include enforceable measures to prevent currency manipulation by foreign governments; an issue Dingell has called the mother of all trade barriers.
“The auto industry is in my blood, but more importantly, it’s the backbone of Michigan’s economy,” said Dingell. “When countries, like Japan, artificially weaken their currency, it stacks the deck against American workers and makes it difficult for them to compete. I know our workers, they can out-compete anyone in the world, but they can’t out-compete the Bank of Japan or the Japanese Government. Fast tracking a trade deal without enforceable measures to prevent currency manipulation is a bad deal for our workers, our industries and our economy, and it’s not something I can support.”
Currently, the Japanese yen is valued at about ¥124 to the dollar. This provides an up to $8,000 cost advantage for every vehicle Japan sells in the United States, which is then used to undercut the cost of parts or advertising.
Economists have found that currency manipulation has already resulted in up to five million lost American jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Michigan has lost 56,200 jobs due to the trade deficit with Japan, in large part as a result of currency manipulation. These job losses accounted for 1.34 percent of total state employment, the most of any state in the country.
Local labor leaders joined Dingell to discuss the harmful effects Fast Track Authority would have on Michigan’s industries, jobs and the overall economy.
“We’ve heard this story before,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Fast Track legislation allowed the North American Free Trade Agreement to be rammed through Congress, and the result was lost jobs and lower wages for American workers. We know our representatives locally will stand up for us and our jobs, but Fast Track takes away any ability for them to do so. We need to fight for good paying middle class jobs, and it is critical we all stand together to stop Fast Track.”
“Our communities are all too familiar with the impact of a bad trade deal,” said Jim Allen, President of United Steelworkers Local 1299. “When the steel plants shut down in River Rouge in 2009, many of the main street businesses shut down along with them and still have not bounced back. These policies have an impact on our communities and our families, and I thank Congresswoman Dingell and our representatives for fighting against a bad trade deal.”