Remarks by U.S. Congresswoman
Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to delegates at the 34th UAW Constitutional Convention
Thank you Regional Director 2B Lloyd Mahaffey
for your kind invitation and generous introduction. I know you are there
with your international President Ron Gettelfinger, your executive board,
and brothers and sisters from throughout our continent. I consider it
a privilege to address you, for I know the UAW has always been in the
vanguard, building America forward economically and socially. I am proud
to stand in solidarity with you in your fight for a stronger and just
This week, the UAW is making headlines throughout our nation and world.
I know the decisions you are considering are pivotal and consequential.
Like your members, I too want an America that is job-rich, debt-free,
energy-independent; where America again exports products not our jobs,
so health insurance and education can be guaranteed and affordable to
every family. With retirement benefits that can’t be taken away.
Like you, I want a world where America is at peace again, making more
friends than enemies.
Imagine an America that is building forward again to a more prosperous
and secure future, passing onto our children a world of opportunity.
Imagine an America where Delphi, and La-Z-Boy, and Maytag, and so many
other firms are allowed to fairly compete on a global playing field
that is level. Imagine an America where Walmart was union and filled
its stores with goods made in America. That is not the world today.
No company, no union, no community, no state can win this economic fight
alone. Indeed, you can't compete fairly with closed markets like Japan's,
nor China's cheap wages. You can't compete fairly with job-killing trade
agreements like NAFTA and PNTR tying your hands behind your back. You
need, and America needs, a committed government of the United States
to stand at your side to open closed markets, to outlaw sweatshops and
bonded labor, to renegotiate trade agreements so they create jobs and
rising standards of living for all. Our task is to restore a government
of, by, and for the American people. Our common fight is for a President
and Congress that put people and communities first ahead of transnational
corporations that pit one nation's workers against another. The government
of the U.S. must become again a real referee in this global fight, not
If any company with a charter to conduct business in the US moves our
jobs to another country to get sweatshop labor and then U-turns their
wares back here for sale, I say we charge them a "Pledge of Allegiance
market entry fee."
Likewise, any global firm that wishes the privilege of doing business
in our marketplace should have to demonstrate that the workers who produced
those goods earned living wages not sweatshop rates.
Our government must operate by the Golden Rule: "free trade among
free people." Where that does not exist, we must renegotiate trade
treaties that hollow out America and hold labor in bondage globally.
The U.S. trade deficit with China has increased twenty-fold since the
late 1980's displacing millions of jobs. The rise in the U.S. trade
deficit with Canada and Mexico has wiped out over 880,000 more U.S.
jobs. This year's trade deficit with the world will likely reach $1
trillion dollars in the red. This is unprecedented in American history.
Indeed, our economy is in uncharted waters.
To take the first step to right this deficit, I have introduced H.R.
4405 the Balancing Trade Act. It mandates the President take action
to correct any imbalanced relationship when our trade deficit with another
country equals $10 billion for three consecutive years.
Second, the President and Congress must focus on the primary categories
of trade deficit and address them directly. The two top categories are:
imported petroleum and imported autos and auto parts.
America simply cannot wait 20 years to become energy independent. Our
nation landed a man on the moon within a decade. We should be no less
bold in attacking what ails us today. Can you imagine the thousands
and thousands of new jobs energy independence would create here in America!
Freedom for this 21st century should mean freedom from dependence on
One step forward is my Biofuels Energy Independence Act H.R. 388. It
would stop predatory oil companies from locking biofuels out at the
pump. Another of my bills H.R. 1398 would raise the thresholds for blending
ethanol and biodiesel into conventional gasoline to hasten this necessary
market conversion. Beyond that, federal research and development incentives
should be locked into place to diversify power systems, such as hydrogen,
for land-based transportation to power America in this new energy age.
We must be vigilant.
Please let me use this opportunity today to propose that the UAW itself
consider building a new age prototype "American Freedom car"
-- one that surpasses the fuel mileage of any domestic or import. I'd
love to see a race next Memorial Day between The Buckeyes led by Lloyd
Mahaffey, and the Wolverines led by Ron Gettelfinger. To this end, I
would help sponsor community-wide events across our state to help raise
the seed money and I bet other like minded Members of Congress would
do the same. Let's gather the best ASW certified mechanics and tool
and die makers. We know their skills. Let's put them together for America's
sake. Gentlemen and Gentle ladies, are you ready to start your engines?
In closing, we all know we want an America that builds wealth here a
home again, not imports it. We want an America that builds cars and
parts again, not imports them. We want an America that is energy independent
here at home again, not reliant on oil dictatorships to fuel us and
hold us hostage.
In other words, we must join together to defend America here at home
as much as we are prepared to defend her abroad.
Let us imagine the America we want, and then fight together to build
her forward again. Thank you dear friends.