WHEELING - America has led the world in manufacturing for the past 110 years, but could lose that title to China within the next two years unless governmental policies are quickly changed, say officials with the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Republicans and Democrats, labor and industry leaders, and residents of both Ohio and West Virginia comprised a diverse crowd as the group hosted a town hall meeting Friday at Wheeling Park's White Palace to discuss the future of manufacturing.
Candidates for federal office in both West Virginia and Ohio were invited to give their remarks on how we should best "keep it made in America."
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Beri Fox, center, president and CEO of Marble King, Paden City, talks about manufacturing in the United States as Tom Conway, left, United Steelworkers international vice president, and Kenny Perdue, West Virginia AFL-CIO president, listen Friday during an Alliance for American Manufacturing town hall meeting in Wheeling.
The politicians and their thoughts follow:
West Virginia U.S. Senate
"But I'm not so sure that we can say that today - that all the things we need for defense are made in America," he said. "That should be our No. 1 policy - that if we are defending this country, the armaments we use should be made in America."
"I'm opposed to mountain top removal mining," he said. "I want to see miners back in the mines - union mines," he said. "I've earned my union trade card. ... Let's take that coal from the ground. We don't want to import coal or buy our steel from China."
Republican John Raese and Constitution Party candidate Jeff Becker were not present.
West Virginia 1st District U.S. House
"We need to put folks back to work in the energy field," he said. "Energy jobs in the state are critical. The best way to welcome back a veteran is with a job."
"Today if we were to put all those employed in manufacturing jobs in the state, we couldn't fill Mountaineer Field," he said. "Only 52,000 jobs are left in the manufacturing industry."
To those who have expressed concern that they have too much uncertainty about future costs to invest in growth, he advocates the freezing of tax rates to create stability in business and industry.
Ohio 6th District
"We shouldn't be looking to advance new trade deals when the ones we have aren't working. I'm proud to be on a bill that would repeal NAFTA (North American Free Trade Amendment). I'm opposed to NAFTA, CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Amendment), or any other 'AFTA.' Trade is important. But it has to be free trade. And we haven't had free trade."
"First they take your money, then your job," he said of federal government policy. "It's never in the opposite order. "I don't believe there is such a thing as free trade. It costs jobs."
He said it's common sense to him that an American government that uses tax money of working Americans should be required to buy American when possible.
"But do we need legislation to mandate that?" he asked. "Send a candidate to Washington that came by that naturally."
"If steel is being dumped into our economy, it's important to our communities for us to be able to compete," he said. "I worked for Republican Steel. I know how important steel is to our communities."