(06/04/2002)
Hur Herald Press Release

Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito told a group of concerned citizens and special interests "I can't imagine a serious reason why I would change my mind and vote for Fast Track legislation," which gives the president quick power to negotiate trade deals.

Capito listened to seven individuals representing unions, government, religion, environmental issues and health care workers. She said she is vitally concerned about several hundreds of jobs now leaving West Virginia for Mexico and other foreign countries, under NAFTA and GATT.

Capito was one Republican who voted against Fast Track trade last year, after being heavily lobbied by President Bush. She was deeply moved by statements made at Spencer's B. F. Goodrich Plant in Spencer, which is being closed.

Robin Wilson of Roane County spoke as a citizen regarding significant job losses in Roane and Jackson County.

Rick Wilson of West Virginia Voices said he was concerned about Fast Track deciding conflicting issues in their own "court."

Calhoun Commissioner Bob Weaver said at least 1200-1400 jobs have left or are leaving the immediate region. "I am concerned because they are jobs Calhoun people drive 25-75 miles each way for employment."

"Not only does world trade disallow job creation in poor, rural counties, now the available jobs are going abroad. Things do not look good," said Weaver. "Then we get re-training money for jobs that do not exist."

Congresswoman Capito listens to world trade concerns

Environmental activist Mary Wildfire said "Free trade often means going to the cheapest country bidding with the lowest wages, no benefits and the very worst environmental considerations." She said many of these countries have no standards for labor or the environment.

The discussion focused on the undemocratic nature of Fast Track, supported by President Bush and many members of Congress.

Mary Ellen Farrell said "Workers become commodities" and a representative of the Catholic church spoke about spiritual and social justice issues related to job loss.

One of the speakers said FMC in the Kanawha Valley once had 10,000 employees. "Now they have 81," he said.

Larry Matheney, the Legislative Council for Steel workers in West Virginia, said while he does not oppose fair trade, it is not out of the question to be patriotic and not be labeled a protectionist. He said no longer in America can the next generation do better. "Sometimes they are doing much worse," he said.

The steel industry in America has been nearly destroyed by open trade agreements, which he says is not "fair trade."

Another vote is scheduled on Fast Track soon.


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