[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 85 (Tuesday, June 27, 2006)]
[House]
[Page H4668]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       STOP SWEATSHOP PROFITEERS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I see them all over Ohio, Toledo, 
Hamilton, Lima, Youngstown, Mansfield and Dayton. In every community, 
there are signs that the Federal Government's trade policies are 
undermining American manufacturers, especially small machine shops, 
tool and die makers, other manufacturers, and encouraging the spread 
internationally of abusive sweatshop practices.
  China is the sweatshop of the world, with oppressive labor policies 
resulting in wage suppression of as much as 85 percent. We all know 
that American workers can compete with workers anywhere in the world on 
a level playing field, but no one can stand, no one can compete with 
child labor, with sweatshop labor, with prison labor.
  The year I first ran for Congress in 1992, the United States had a 
trade deficit of $38 billion. Today, just last year, in 2005, that 
trade deficit had jumped from $38 billion in only 13 years to a $720 
billion trade deficit.
  The result of the sweatshop labor of this trade policy with China 
alone is trade deficit records being broken year after year and ever-
increasing losses of manufacturing jobs to China. In my State alone, 
200,000 manufacturing jobs had been lost since the year 2000, yet 
America's trade agreements are actually encouraging the development of 
new sweatshops. All of us in this body supported the U.S.-Jordan Free 
Trade Agreement because Jordan's labor protections were seen as meeting 
international standards.
  The New York Times, though, recently reported that in the few years 
since the Jordan Free Trade Agreement took effect, lax enforcement and 
an abusive guest worker system have made Jordan the new haven for some 
of the world's most brutal sweatshops.
  Senator Byron Dorgan and I have introduced the Decent Working 
Conditions and Fair Competition Act to end sweatshop profiteering.
  The bill is simple. It bars the importation or the sale of goods made 
with sweatshop labor. In other words, if a product is made in a Chinese 
sweatshop, if a product is made by child labor or slave labor or prison 
labor, you can't import it into the United States, you can't sell it 
into the United States.
  The Federal Trade Commission would enforce it, but the bill also 
gives retailers and shareholders the right to hold violators 
accountable, and it prohibits Federal government agencies from buying 
sweatshop goods. We can't afford to continue to tolerate these abuses. 
We certainly cannot afford, cannot continue to encourage them.
  We don't have a $200 billion trade deficit with China because China's 
companies are better than ours and certainly not because their people 
are smarter or more dedicated or hard working. We know how China is 
able to do so well in the game of international trade. They break the 
rules.
  When China breaks the rules, and we lose in places like Marion and 
Cleveland, when we lose in places like Chillicothe and Zanesville and 
Toledo, when they lose thousands of manufacturing jobs, it not only 
hurts those people that lose those jobs, it hurts those families. It 
causes police and fire to be laid off in those abandoned communities. 
It means fewer schoolteachers teaching our young people.

                              {time}  2300

  It devastates people's families. It devastates people's communities. 
It is our job here in Congress to provide a level playing field for 
U.S. workers, to help those small manufacturers, to help those workers, 
to help those families, to help those communities and provide decent 
working conditions for workers here and abroad.
  I ask my fellow Members of the House to support the Decent Working 
Conditions and Fair Competition Act.

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