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Commissioners resolve to protect jobs

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Action sought to halt fair-trade barriers

TELL CITY - The Perry County commissioners gave their support in a regular meeting May 19 to a resolution intended to help protect Hoosier jobs.

Eric James, who works for a Charlotte, N.C., law firm, told the commissioners Perry County was his first attempt to get officials of Indiana's Ninth Congressional District to sign the resolution, which requests that the state legislature "continue to support the families of Indiana, to support strong trade policy curbing industry subsidization and currency manipulation by foreign governments." It also seeks "swift and responsive actions to halt other unlawful barriers to fair and free trade."

James told the commissioners he was working a public-awareness campaign on behalf of domestic manufacturers. He told The News later the campaign is supported by a number of domestic manufacturers and includes other states such as California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

"Indiana lost more than 1,800 manufacturing jobs since 1988," he told the commissioners. "We want to support fair-trade laws so we can support our families."

Commissioner Don Sherry, a union official representing carpenters and millwrights, wanted to ensure the resolution "doesn't support an extension of (the North America Free Trade Act)."

Trade laws don't support Americans' jobs now, James said. "The people of Indiana and across the nation want us to keep jobs in the U.S."

"The United States trade deficit has been fluctuating between $60 billion and $70 billion per month, and surpassed $780 billion in 2007," his resolution noted.

It continues, "between 1989 and 2003, the U.S. trade deficit with China alone displaced production supporting 1.5 million jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 75 percent of which were manufacturing jobs paying above-average wages."

More than $135 billion in wages will likely move to other nations by 2015, the resolution continued. "These American jobs go to workers who are paid just pennies per hour in unsafe conditions, and who receive no medical or other benefits."

Indiana's manufacturing sector, including suppliers and ancillary businesses, lost more than 116,100 jobs since 1999 due to unfair trade practices, the document reports, "which includes currency manipulation and other unscrupulous measures."

The resolution notes that "manufacturing employs more than 2,000 people in Perry County, accounting for 32 percent of the jobs in the county."

By signing it, the commissioners "encourage the United States Department of the Treasury to stake a strong position on behalf of fair trade" and "urge citizens of Indiana to support strong trade policy and act in a manner that can best help preserve, protect and defend the vital manufacturing jobs of Indiana."