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Sen. Richard Burr votes to block <em>Bring Jobs Home Act</em>

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Sen. Kay Hagan votes to Bring Jobs Home

Last week and at a time when millions of Americans remain unemployed or underemployed, Senator Richard Burr voted with Mitt Romney and big corporate interests to put mega-profits over good America jobs. Congress had the opportunity to support working families by passing a bill that would invest in America and keep and create jobs here in the U.S.

The Bring Jobs Home Act, introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), would end the tax deduction for companies that move jobs overseas and instead reward companies who move jobs back to the U.S. According to Public Citizen, 374,612 people in North Carolina have lost their jobs due to outsourcing since 1994. Our state's manufacturing workforce has shrunk from 29.6% of all workers in 1994 to just 13.7%, today.

Last Thursday, North Carolina's U.S. Senators voted on whether or not to open debate on the Bring Jobs Home Act. That is, they voted not on whether to pass the bill but whether to talk about it at all, an unfortunate first-step under the broken rules of our Senate.

In the hours before the vote, dozens of students in the Class of 2012 at Carolina Labor School, some of whom identified themselves as registered Republicans, made phone calls to Hagan and Burr, urging both their Senators to support the Bring Jobs Home Act.

Despite having the support of 56 Senators - including Kay Hagan and 4 Republicans, the Bring Jobs Home Act died with 42 other Senators - all Republicans, including Richard Burr - voting to kill the bill before a debate could even begin on the merits of ending tax incentives for outsourcing.

“Sen. Burr is completely out of touch with working families who are tired of corporations shipping our jobs overseas and using tax payer money to subsidize these practices,” said James Andrews, President of the NC State AFL-CIO.

"Over the last month, working families including North Carolinians have taken part in hundreds of events nationwide outside the offices of elected officials, candidates, and corporations that have shipped jobs overseas to urge Congress to pass the Bring Jobs Act."

Need for this bill is in evidence all around us

Earlier in the week at news conference in Canton, North Carolina, Jeff Israel and other members of United Steelworkers Local 507 joined with the Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, to raise awareness about the Bring Jobs Home Act. The Asheville Citizen-Times covered the event:

“We can’t have a middle class if we don’t have jobs that pay middle-class wages,” Israel said.

He cited the closing of the Dayco plant in Waynesville in 1999 as a classic example of the loss of manufacturing jobs.

The plant opened in 1940 and made fan belts and hoses for the automotive industry, with employment peaking at more than 2,000 people.

After it closed, the plant was bulldozed, and several years later a Walmart was built on the site.

“This is being replicated across the country,” Isreal said. “We’ve lost a lot of our manufacturing base.”

He said he wasn’t bashing Walmart but simply pointing out that retail wages don’t come close to manufacturing wages. At Evergreen Packaging in Canton, some 1,000 union members’ average pay is $55,000 to $60,000 a year, Israel said.

“Most of these people never get a job paying the same thing they made in manufacturing. The community suffers as well. At this union, we give a lot of money to the United Way and other charities. When one of these facilities shuts down, it has a ripple effect in the economy.”

We'll still fight for fairness in U.S. economic policy

Despite Senator Burr's success in blocking the bill on a procedural vote, working families will continue to work together to call for the following policies to immediately encourage job creation here at home and reward companies that invest in America:

  • Stop currency manipulation by our trading partners;
  • Tax the overseas income of U.S. corporations the same way we tax their domestic income, so they no longer can lower their tax bill by shifting income and jobs overseas;
  • Bar companies that send call center jobs overseas from receiving federal grants and tax breaks; and
  • Push for fair trade policies that benefit workers—not just multinational corporations.

Members of Congress who voted against these common sense policies will now have to answer to their constituents, many of whom remain desperate for work.

We will not be discouraged, said President Andrews. "Working families in North Carolina will continue to make their views heard on the importance of investing in America and bringing jobs home."