Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meet Donnie Blatt Of The United Steel Workers-- From Boehner's Ohio District


John Boehner has never met a "free" trade agreement has hasn't liked... never. And he's voted for and whipped for every one of them, from NAFTA and CAFTA and WTO/GATT to special treatment for China and fast track legislation for every low-wage anti-union hellhole on the face of the earth. Just 2 weeks ago Boehner led the opposition to ending Chinese currency manipulation and failed so dramatically that most of the Republicans in his own caucus-- 99 of them-- abandoned him and fled across the aisle to vote with the Democrats (and America). I asked the bill's sponsor, Tim Ryan, also of Ohio, why Boehner would be at odds with working people in Ohio who are so nervous about middle class jobs being outsourced, and at odds with the majority of Republicans. Rep. Ryan pointed out that Boehner and his entire leadership team (Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Pete Sessions, Paul Ryan, David Dreier, etc) voted against the bill because they have to work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which is raising millions of dollars from foreign sources, including China, of course, to influence the outcome of the elections in favor of "free" trade and a wide agenda that weakens America. I was flabbergasted to hear Ryan lay it out in such a straightforward way.

Today, I want to introduce you with someone who has been working on this issue for some time, Donnie Blatt of the United Steel Workers. He sought help from his congressman to stave off the shipping of paper manufacturing jobs-- and the paper industry-- to China. His congressman, however, is John Boehner. Donnie sent this today:
I have been hearing about your articles concerning Ohio Congressman John Boehner (R) in the 8th Congressional District and his lack of response and attention to China’s violations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and their dumping of yet another manufactured product in the United States, this time coated paper, and the harm these violations have done to our domestic markets in the United States. I wanted to tell you about my personal experience with Mr. Boehner’s Congressional Office in West Chester, OH when we went to talk on this particular issue.
First let me say, I am a representative of the United Steelworkers in District 1 which covers the State of Ohio and we represent the workers at many paper companies, some in Congressman Boehner’s District, so this is an issue we have paid close attention to and are working with as many Congressmen and Senators to take whatever steps possible to level the playing field for domestic workers in this industry in the United States. When our Organization recognized China was again violating the rules they agreed to abide by when becoming a member of the WTO we filed a case in front of the International Trade Commission as we have done in the past with other manufactured products such as small passenger and light weight truck tires, steel welded tubing and others.
Since the year 2002 the United States has lost approximately 30% of its domestic paper industry because of rising imports of cheap paper products from China. Although China violates human rights and worker rights everyday and manipulates its currency this particular case goes even a step further. Since the year 2002 the Chinese government has provided over $30 billion in subsidies to their paper industry which another direct violation of the WTO. China doesn’t have a huge timber industry so they have to import pulp and recycled paper to support their paper industry. This is pretty expensive for the industry because of transportation cost but the money they save on cheap labor makes the transportation costs a wash. The government subsidies are what have made the imports of coated paper products so cheap which are a direct violation of the rules of the World Trade Organization.
We met with some representatives of Congressman Boehner’s office in West Chester, OH along with some workers from his District that work at Appleton Paper. Appleton Paper, by the way, was a participant with the United Steelworkers in filing the unfair trade case to the International Trade Commission. Congressman Boehner did not meet with us as he never does, but we talked to the staff in this Congressional Office about this case and the harm China’s violations were doing to the US domestic paper industry. The office staff listened to us but their first concern was whether we had contacted the media about our meeting and if we planned to talk to the media about this issue. Our purpose was to get Congressman Boehner to sign on to a letter with other Congressmen and woman asking President Obama to use all remedy options at his disposal, including the maximum tariff on coated paper from China to level the playing field for our domestic industries and workers. The Congressman never did contact any of us who met with the office staff about the issue but they put out a statement saying Congressman Boehner thought we ought to be doing more trade agreements with China and other countries just like the ones that have lost over 8 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. since the year 2000.
It is clear to me and obvious to the workers in our domestic paper industry that Congressman Boehner’s agenda only includes things that are good for “Multi-National Corporate America” and not the workers of the 8th Congressional District or the United States of America. This is why we support his opponent, Justin Coussoule to be the next Congressman in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District.

–Donnie Blatt, United Steelworkers

This is the letter, which Boehner refused to sign on to, although dozens of conservative Republicans did, including Senator Jim Bunning (KY), 4th ranking GOP House member Thaddeus McCotter (MI),  and senior Ohio Republicans Mike Turner and Steve LaTourette.

Some in Washington say that Boehner betrayed paper workers in Ohio because of his close relationship, exposed by rival Mike Pence, to Lisbeth Lyons, a lobbyist for the printing industry, which seeks cheap paper. Boehner and Lyons refuse to confirm (or deny) the relationship. But what they can't deny is that Boehner has been a key player in a policy that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs in his own state and his own district and is one of the architects of the de-industrialization of the United States. It's time to say ENOUGH. He's campaigning on more unbalanced "free" trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea and a handful of other low-wage countries. Is that what Ohio voters want? Is it what any of us want? This "free" trade madness has to stop-- on both sides of the aisle, which is why Blue America is asking for contributions to help us put this ad on TV in Ohio's eighth congressional district:

You can donate to the Blue America PAC here or, if this ad isn't the way you think we should go about this... donate directly to Justin Coussoule on the same page.

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