Trans-Pacific Partnership: Union members gather to voice opposition

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Hundreds of union workers gathered at a UAW hall Saturday. They’re opposing a potential international trade agreement. And two lawmakers are on their side.

For Darryl Parker, international trade is personal. He represents steelworkers from the RG Steel plant. He said 1,100 workers lost their jobs because of free trade agreements.

“And it’s not just the impact of the American worker. It’s also the community in which they live, because it’s also the mom-and-pop shops where we spend our money. It’s also the banks that we go and try to borrow money,” said Parker, United Steel Workers Local 1375.

Parker spoke Saturday at UAW Local 1112. He is against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s a proposed trade agreement between the United States and 11 other countries. Parker wants to make it tougher for companies to import cheap foreign steel.

“Once you leave the borders of the United States, even though you’re an American-owned company, when you bring that product back into the United States from another country, it’s a foreign product. And you should be penalized,” said Parker.

Supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, include President Obama. They say opening up trade markets could benefit America’s economy. They’re facing opposition from Democratic lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“We can win these trade fights, but we need the tools to do it. TPP is not that,” said Brown, D-Ohio.

Congressman Tim Ryan also spoke out Saturday against TPP. So did the director of UAW Region 2-B.

“Trade agreements have been devastating for American workers. American workers can compete with anybody in the world, as long as it’s on a level playing field. We don’t think the results of past fast-track trade deals create a level playing field,” said Ken Lortz, UAW Region 2B director.

Details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership remain under negotiation.

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