Stop the Bleeding

Published 10:10 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

MURFREESBORO – Coming together in an effort to take action.

That’s the rallying cry behind a unique event scheduled for Chowan University’s Helm Center at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Hosted by Nucor Steel of Hertford County, this town hall style meeting, offered free of charge, is expected to last approximately two hours. Those in attendance will receive a complimentary dinner.

The topic of discussion is the rapidly declining number of American manufacturing jobs. While Nucor Steel remains strong in Hertford County and northeastern North Carolina (the firm employs nearly 400 workers), it’s an eroding job base that has American manufacturers worried.

Since 1998, the American manufacturing sector has lost 4.2 million jobs. It now employs fewer people than at any time since March, 1950.

In North Carolina alone, over 283,000 manufacturing workers have lost their jobs since 1998. In order to provide for their families, many have been forced to accept jobs that pay far less.

Nucor, joined by other American manufacturers, blame the loss of jobs on unfair trade practices.

“Illegal trade practices and lax enforcement of trade laws, punitive tax policies and outsourcing of American jobs – all are undermining our manufacturers, our economy and our national security,” said Bob McCracken, General Manager of Nucor Steel in Hertford County.

He continued, “This meeting will address the continued deterioration of the U.S. manufacturing sector and the serious impact of this trend on North Carolina’s economy and people. It is imperative that we understand the forces behind these job losses and that we act decisively to reverse this damage to our manufacturing sector. If we fail to act, the decline of American manufacturing will continue to rob us, our children and our communities of opportunity and economic security.”

Nucor and other American manufacturers point to the flooding of American and European markets with artificially cheap products. Meanwhile, those products are being manufactured in countries where little or no environmental regulations are in place. Not only are those products potentially dangerous to consumers, they also pose global environmental concerns.

The meeting will also address America’s trade deficit (in excess of $711 billion last year alone) as well as a shift of American jobs overseas. If the latter problem continues, it is expected that $136 billion in wages will shift from the United States to low-cost nations by 2015.

American manufactures see a desperate need for what they call “a level playing field,” citing much of the nation’s trade deficit could be eliminated by simply enforcing the rules of fair trade. That alone would save jobs and create others.

The Oct. 21 event is the 14th town hall meeting conducted by Nucor around the nation. All totaled, thousands of concerned citizens and elected officials have attended those previous 13 meetings. Make plans to have your voice heard next Tuesday at the Helms Center, located on Union Street adjacent to the Chowan University baseball field.