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Democrats: Fighting For Workers & Small Business

During the Democratic Weekly Address, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) argued US trade and tax policy have encouraged companies to shut down factories in the US and move production overseas.

Brown was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words:

“Hi, I’m Sherrod Brown. First, I want to thank the first responders, the men and women in the National Guard, the so many volunteers working so hard to protect and comfort those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

Our hearts break for the families of all those who lost loved ones, including Lieutenant Nicholas Warren Michael Taylor of Ohio, who was on an Air Force training mission in Texas. According to news reports, Lieutenant Taylor gave his life trying to bring others to safety.

To all those suffering devastating loss, please know that your fellow Americans stand behind you, and we will be here for you as you recover and rebuild.

This Labor Day, we honor the men and women who built this country, who continue to power our economy today, including all of those who are critical to hurricane rescue and recovery efforts.

American workers laid down the railroad tracks that moved people and products across the country. They toiled in mines digging the coal that powered our Industrial Revolution. They forged the steel that built our bridges and skyscrapers. They worked on shop floors building cars and trucks and planes that would take our country to new heights. And they built the strongest middle class, and with it, the strongest nation that the world has ever known.

This pin I wear is a canary in a birdcage. A steel worker gave it to me to remind me of the progress that we’ve made in this country for working people. At the turn of the last century, in 1900, workers took canaries down into mines. If the canary stopped singing, it meant there was poisonous gas and the workers had mere minutes to get out.

Those workers didn’t have a union in those days strong enough, or frankly, a government that cared enough in those days to protect them.

But in the 20th century, we changed that. We passed strong labor laws to protect the rights of workers. Unions grew. Millions of Americans worked hard to earn their way to a better life. As our economy expanded, the wages of ordinary Americans grew along with it.

Today, it’s still American workers who power this country, but their hard work doesn’t pay off the way it used to.

For far too long, our trade policy, our tax policy have encouraged a corporate business model that shuts down factories in Toledo or Dayton or Mansfield, Ohio, cashes in on a tax credit at the expense of working Americans, and then ships production overseas, moves those companies overseas to Reynosa, Mexico or Wuhan, China, then sells those products back into the United States.

Far too many of the jobs that remain here don’t pay enough in wages and benefits to compensate workers for the hours they put in.

Over the last 40 years, GDP’s gone up. corporate profits have gone up. Executive compensation has gone up. But workers haven’t shared in the economic growth they created. Wall Street’s made billions, but the average bank teller earns about $26,000 a year. Middle managers have seen their benefits cut. People earn less. People can’t save for retirement. People feel less stable, all while working harder and producing more than ever before.

It’s a universal problem in this country, whether you punch a timesheet, whether you make a salary, or earn tips, whether you’re on a payroll, a contract worker, or a temp worker, you’re getting squeezed.

It effects workers behind desks and on factory floors, behind restaurant counters, working retail. It’s a problem in the industrial heartland. It’s a problem on the coasts. It’s a problem in the South, everywhere.

Every last one of you is the backbone of the greatest economy in the world. Yet, you have less and less to show for it.

Democrats are fighting to make your hard work pay off once again.

We have proposals to wage benefit — to raise wages and benefits, to make it easier for workers to save for retirement, to give workers more influence and power in the workplace, to encourage companies to invest in their greatest asset: you, the American worker.

When I was first elected to the State House in Columbus from Mansfield, Ohio, I used to spend hours at United Steel Workers Local 169 in my hometown. I talked with workers who stopped in at the hall before or after their shifts. I learned how they made steel, how they built cars, I learned how they — I learned about their children. I learned about their neighborhoods. They worked hard, most of them gladly worked six days for the overtime pay. They owned, yes they owned, in most cases, modest homes. They could move up the income ladder. They build a better — and build a better life for their kids at Mansfield’s Johnny Appleseed Junior High.

Three decades later, the hopes and desires I hear from Ohioans haven’t really changed. They want the same things as those steel workers. They want to be valued for the work they do. They want to be able to save for the future, to own a home, to take the family on a vacation every once in a while, to build better lives for their children.

What’s changed is that people no longer see a path to get there through hard work, and too often, they’re right.

We need to change the way we think about the American economy. It’s not multinational corporations who drive our economy. It’s America’s workers and small businesses. We grow the economy, not trickle down from the top down. We grow the economy from the middle class out. That’s what Democrats are fighting for.”