Last month, a delegation of Illinois steelworkers met with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost at his Washington, D.C., office about the proposed fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, a trade deal that’s being negotiated in secret that would ship more American manufacturing jobs overseas.
The steelworker delegation presented Bost with 1,500 letters signed by U.S. Steel-Granite City Works employees who are in danger of losing their jobs thanks to past unfair trade deals that were negotiated behind closed doors. The letters appealed to Bost to vote against fast-tracking the deal.
Unfortunately, Bost did not commit to opposing fast-tracking it.
And, unfortunately for the steelworkers in Southern Illinois, if Bost and his fellow Republicans allow this trade deal to be fast-tracked through Congress, it won’t be just the 2,000 workers at the USS Granite City Steel Mill whose jobs will be threatened, it will be hundreds of thousands of American workers.
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History has shown that these secret trade deals cost American jobs. Since 1994, more than 1 million good-paying, middle-class jobs in the U.S. have been shipped overseas. Sixty thousand manufacturing plants have closed their doors.
The Constitution gives Congress the right to have the final decision over these trade deals — not the president, not corporations, not trade lawyers, not foreign governments.
We need to make sure future trade deals don’t sacrifice the jobs of American workers, as has occurred in the past.
How can we be sure that won’t occur when our representatives in Congress give up their responsibility to do their jobs to debate and amend proposed trade deals that are bad for American workers?
Bost has been silent while these secret negotiations unfold, and there’s no indication at this time that he will oppose fast-tracking the trade deal through Congress.
Let’s hope he does the right thing and opposes fast track. Steelworkers in Illinois are depending on him to do so.
Dave Dowling is Sub-District 2 director, District 7, United Steel Workers.