“The meeting is another opportunity to hear from workers about how important these local jobs are,” said Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, who has been advocating for the tariff to remain intact in an international free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now under negotiation between the US and 10 other countries.
The Citizen Trade Policy Commission monitors the impact of international trade policy on Maine citizens. It is made up of legislators, businesses and labor representatives, who make policy recommendations designed to protect Maine jobs.
“Middle class families are working harder and harder for less and less,” said McCabe. “We need more jobs not less.”
McCabe helped coordinate the trade commission meeting in Skowhegan. In September, he and fellow state Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, met with trade negotiators in Virginia to discuss the devastating impact the trade agreement could have on Maine.
The tariffs are critical to the survival of Maine footwear plants, such as the New Balance factories in Skowhegan, Norway, and Norridgewock, which employ nearly 900 people in Maine. New Balance is the last company to make their sneakers in the United States.
“These tariffs level the playing field when we are competing with countries with low wages and poor working conditions,” said Rep. Treat, who serves a state advisor to the United States Trade Representative. “We should be working to preserve these good jobs, not letting them go extinct.”
The trade policy commission will also provide a brief presentation on the TPP and other trade agreements.