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Lepore-Hagan urges Congress to protect fair trade

Says Fast Track authority has lead to uneven playing field for American workers
January 30, 2015
Michele Lepore-Hagan News

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) Wednesday sent a letter urging opposition to the reauthorization of federal Fast Track authority, which allows the executive branch to negotiate international trade agreements behind closed doors. The lawmaker, who serves as the ranking minority member of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, urged her colleagues to lobby their congressional counterparts to reject the measure.

“When American workers do not have a seat at the table, their best interests end up getting brushed to the side,” said Rep. Hagan. “We need open and democratic trade negotiations that give the middle class a voice and protect American manufacturing from unfair labor practices in other countries.”

A copy of Rep. Lepore-Hagan’s letter can be seen below:

January 28, 2015

Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Fellow House Members:

As ranking minority member of the House Commerce & Labor Committee, I write to inform all members of the Fast Track trade promotion authority legislation that will soon be introduced on the federal level. I believe this legislation, if passed, could damage the state’s economy and do great harm in particular to Ohio workers in the manufacturing sector.

Fast Track authority allows the executive branch to negotiate international trade agreements behind closed doors. Congress is forced to approve or reject any trade agreement as presented on a straight up-or-down vote, without having had opportunity to provide input that ensures American workers are put on an even playing field. This secretive process does not align with the democratic process, as it excludes input from local elected officials and the public – the workers, farmers, small businesses, and families that all may be adversely affected by a new trade agreement.

Under two decades of Fast Track trade agreements, the U.S. trade deficits have gotten worse -- increasing by over 440 percent. This growing trade deficit, exacerbated by flawed trade agreements negotiated under Fast Track authority, has led to the loss of over 300,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs. Ohio workers watch as their jobs are sent overseas to workers in countries where there are lower wages, poor working conditions and lack of safety regulations.

We need an alternative trade negotiating authority that would be more transparent, accountable and democratic, and produce better trade policies for the American economy. I encourage each member to get in touch with their counterpart on the federal level and urge them to stand against Fast Track authority.


Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan
House District 58