Bernie Sanders Vows to Reform Job-Killing Trade Deals

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While on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed out that recent trade agreements supported by Hillary Clinton have devastated Pennsylvania’s economy by allowing large corporations to outsource cheaper labor to Mexico, China, and other countries. Instead of rewarding corporations for their unfettered greed, Sanders pledged to rewrite current trade deals in order to prevent further losses of U.S. jobs.

“Over the last 35 years, our trade agreements have been rigged by corporate America to shut down manufacturing plants in Vermont, in Pennsylvania and throughout this county,” Sanders asserted. “On this issue, Secretary Hillary Clinton and I have very strong differences of opinion going way, way back.”

Besides leading opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Sanders has consistently fought against job-killing trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and trade relations with China. NAFTA ended up costing 850,000 jobs in the U.S., including 26,300 in Pennsylvania, while normalized trade relations with China led to the loss of 3.2 million U.S. jobs, including 122,600 in Pennsylvania. While Sanders opposed both agreements, Clinton actively supported them.

While speaking in Pittsburgh, Sanders listed several examples of how these detrimental trade deals have hurt Pennsylvania. Last year, Allegheny Technologies shut down two steel plants in western Pennsylvania, laying off 600 workers due to a surge in cheap imports from China. In 2013, General Electric announced that it would eliminate 950 jobs at its Pennsylvania locomotive plant in Erie in order to move many of these jobs to Mexico.

In 2009, Hershey fired 300 people and shut down its York Peppermint Patties plant in Reading before relocating to Mexico and paying the workers a fraction of the initial wages. In 2008, Sony fired 560 workers when it closed the last television manufacturing plant in the U.S. in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. Sony moved the plant down to Baja, Mexico.

“I will not renegotiate the TPP, I will reject it,” Sanders declared. “I will not send any trade deals to Congress that make it easier for corporations to shut down in this country and move abroad.”

While vowing to rewrite these job-killing trade deals, Sanders has also pledged to impose countervailing tariffs on imports from China and Japan until they stop dumping steel into the United States and stop manipulating their currencies. Joined by President Mike Smith of the United Steelworkers Local 1557-2 and President Scott Slawson of the United Electrical Workers Local 506 at a news conference in Pittsburgh, Sanders promised to continue fighting against disastrous trade deals while supporting the rights of workers seeking fair wages.

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