(Pittsburgh) -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released this statement following President Obama’s State of the Union Address:
“President Obama offered a stirring message tonight about the state of the union and how far we have come from the brink of economic collapse. Over the course of his Administration, he helped revive a staggering economy that fell victim to the neglect of the Bush Administration and its failure to address the economic crisis that escalated during its last year.
“President Obama fought for economic stimulus legislation and support for the battered auto sector to create a firm foundation on which to rebuild our economy. The President presided over the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms that created some of the infrastructure to reign in the Las Vegas mentality pervading our financial firms. The President has helped ensure that millions of Americans no longer must choose between health care and housing. The President has done these things and more.
“President Obama has put America on the right track. But now, we have to broaden the benefits of this recovery to our nation’s manufacturing sector, where the workers who strive to make it successful have not fully shared in the economic recovery.
“Last year, only 35,000 manufacturing jobs were created. We are far from achieving the President’s goal of creating 1 million manufacturing jobs before he leaves office. Since the economic crisis, too many firms have shuttered their factories and too many workers have lost their jobs. Steel, aluminum and other industrial sectors are in crisis.
“Our nation’s failed trade policies continue to jeopardize this critical sector of our national economy. We are overly dependent on China because our trade policies have promoted offshoring of production and jobs. China continues to maintain massive industrial overcapacity in many sectors with no real response by our country.
“As long as China’s authoritarian leadership maintains a firm grip on its economy and seeks to maintain employment at any cost, American factories and manufacturing workers will continue to pay the price for political inaction.
“Today’s trade policies are not the answer. They are the problem. The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership would further undermine America’s manufacturing base as it would fuel further offshoring and outsourcing.
“Our trade deficit continues to rise. China continues to manipulate its currency and increase its already- bloated production capacity. Other countries continue to dump their products and subsidize their exports to our market. And income inequality continues to grow.
“It’s time to chart a new course on trade.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.
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