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.