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Brown move will aid workers

He and Portman called for White House action

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said the Trump administration is heeding the call he and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have made for Whirlpool workers in Ohio.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Brown was joined by Whirlpool North America Vice President Aaron Spira and discussed the White House announcement of a tariff on imports of large residential washing machines, in response to what they said was a pattern of trade violations by companies like LG and Samsung in repeatedly exporting their washers to the U.S. at unfair prices.

Whirlpool officials said they expect this week’s announcement to lead to the creation of 200 new jobs at the Whirlpool facility in Clyde.

“At a time when we’ve seen far too much partisan gridlock in Washington, Sen. Portman and I worked together to support Whirlpool workers in Clyde,” Brown said. “The Trump administration followed my and Sen. Portman’s calls to stand up for the 3,500 Ohio workers at Whirlpool whose jobs have been threatened by cheap Chinese imports. And, because of that victory, 200 new jobs are coming to the Whirlpool plant in Clyde.”

Spira said this announcement is important for Whirlpool workers in Clyde.

“This announcement is a huge victory for Whirlpool’s approximately 10,000 workers in Ohio, particularly the more than 3,000 people who manufacture washing machines at our Clyde facility and the thousands more who depend on that operation for their livelihood,” he said. “Whirlpool has a 106-year commitment to American manufacturing, and this trade decision will allow us to invest even more in our plants and in our people. We are extremely grateful to Sen. Brown and all the other members of the Ohio delegation who worked so hard to make this happen.”

Brown’s office said that, since 2012, he and Portman have teamed up to fight against trade practices that have harmed Whirlpool, including calling for the administration’s most recent action.

Brown was also asked about the status of the North American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated by the administration of Ronald Reagan and signed by George H.W. Bush. The treaty was ratified by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1993.

Brown was asked if he thought the agreement could be fixed, following a threat by Trump to abandon it entirely.

Brown said the debate has created a false choice between either maintaining the status quo or abandoning NAFTA.

“Absolutely it’s fixable,” Brown said. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has opposed pulling out in favor of the status quo. They want to keep the status quo and some do. There is clearly a third option.”

Brown, a longtime critic of the deal who opposed its passage, said portions of NAFTA that needed fixed include side agreements made when Clinton signed it.

“Those side agreements were vapid and unenforceable,” he said.

He said a fix should focus on country of origin issues, investor-state disputes and settlements and impacts to workers.

“I’m not weighing in on the president’s threats,” Brown said, adding that he called the White House when trump took office, offering to help renegotiate NAFTA. “My allegiance is to Ohio workers and I want to make this work.”