JANESVILLE, Wis. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday came to this trade-battered city to talk about how job-killing international trade deals backed by Hillary Clinton have hurt Wisconsin workers and put profits over people.
General Motors in 2008 idled its manufacturing plant here and moved the factory to Mexico. That threw 2,800 Wisconsin workers out of decent-paying jobs at the plant which opened in 1919. The factory was the oldest GM plant in the United States when it was shuttered.
As a member of Congress, Sanders was a leader in the fight against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Hillary Clinton supported the bad trade deal that was enacted in 1994. He fought and she backed normalized trade with China and other international trade pacts.
“I have voted against and led the opposition to every one of these disastrous trade agreements,” Sanders told the crowd at a United Automobile Workers union hall named for the mid-century labor leader Walter Reuther. “Secretary Clinton has supported virtually every one,” Sanders added.
On the campaign trail, Clinton recently has spoken in broad generalities about a recovery of manufacturing in the United States. “Maybe she should have been there 20 years ago when we started hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs in this country, largely because of disastrous trade deals,” Sanders said.
The North American Free Trade Agreement cost the U.S. 850,000 jobs, including more than 14,000 in Wisconsin. Normalized trade with China cost the U.S. 3.2 million U.S. jobs, including some 68,000 in Wisconsin. Sanders opposed both deals. Clinton supported them.
Sanders cited other recent examples of companies shipping jobs and moving factories overseas, costing thousands of good-paying Wisconsin jobs.
Just last January, Strattec Security in Milwaukee announced that it would build a manufacturing plant to make car door handles in Leon, Mexico.
After Chrysler received an $8 billion bailout from the working people of this country, it shut down the Kenosha Engine Plant in 2009. The company moved the plant to Saltillo, Mexico, where workers are paid a fraction of what they make in Kenosha. Eight hundred decent-paying jobs were lost.
Fifteen years ago, Briggs & Stratton was Wisconsin’s largest private employer with 11,000 manufacturing workers. Today, it only has 2,500 workers in Wisconsin after it moved plants to Mexico and China.
Master Lock and Tower Automotive now employ more workers in Mexico than Wisconsin. And Rockwell Automation has slashed its union workforce in Milwaukee from 6,000 down to just 300 as it moved plants to Mexico, China, and the Dominican Republic.
Sanders consistently has fought job-killing trade deals. In Congress today, he is leading opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that Clinton, as secretary of state, called the “gold standard” for trade agreements.