Early Monday Hodes announced he had chosen to cosponsor the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, joining 131 other colleagues in the House of Representatives and 7 in the Senate.
The Manchester Union-Leader reports that the Congressman met with workers directly affected by unfair trade policies and the loss of manufacturing employment:
Meeting with out-of-state manufacturing workers and labor leaders at the Airport Diner in Manchester yesterday morning, Hodes (D-NH) said the TRADE Act will set tough new standards for trade agreements.
"It's a jobs bill," he said, "We need to recognize we are in a huge transition."
[CORRECTION - workers were real live Granite Staters, NOT out-of-state as reported].
The real human face of the manufacturing crisis was highlighted at the event. The Union-Leader goes on:
Marlie Merrill was there to hear what the congressman had to say. Merrill, a machinist, is on furlough from Kingsbury Corporation in Keene, which used to have 1,200 manufacturing jobs and now has 90. He is a member of the United Auto Workers Local 2232.
He said his employers cannot get loans because they do not have contracts and they cannot get contracts without loans.
"It's a vicious cycle," Hodes said. "We need to take a new approach of rewarding those for creating jobs in America."
The TRADE Act sets tough new standards for trade agreements to make sure that they benefit American workers and businesses, Hodes said. The proposal also calls for a detailed review of every international trade agreement, and their impact on American workers and families.
Merrill said he knows of two fellow employees who have lost their jobs homes. [Correction mine].
He has been struggling to pay health care costs while out on furlough.
Gail Kinney of Canaan was at the roundtable and listened. She is a member of UAW Local 1981 and goes around the state helping those dealing with unemployment. While the watch word is "re-training," she said, "at this point the question is training for what? There is a sense of quiet desperation."
NH AFL-CIO President Mark McKenzie said in 35 years, he has seen a tremendous change.
In Manchester alone, he said you could walk both sides of the Merrimack River and see thousands working in shoe and sweater manufacturing. Now, those jobs -- which paid enough to keep people buying cars and houses -- are gone, altered by trade agreements such as NAFTA.
Its great to see Hodes getting out in front on the TRADE Act. Hodes is not just cosponsoring the bill, but hitting the streets, and connecting with affected residents and organize for a new model of the global economy that puts people over profit.