All blog posts related to the issue: International Trade
  • Enforcing trade rules to create jobs in Oregon

    Sen. Wyden has long fought for manufacturers in both Oregon and throughout the United States to be on a level playing field worldwide when it comes to their competitors.

    His battle against illegally subsidized Chinese solar companies proved successful on Thursday when SolarWorld announced it plans to add 200 full-time employees over the next nine months, adding a new solar-panel production line and expanding its advanced cell production capacity in Hillsboro.

    The $10 million expansion, which brings the company’s total investment in Oregon to nearly $630 million, increases the total number of Oregonians employed at the Washington County facility to about 900.

    What we are seeing today is a textbook case of how enforcing American trade laws can help create family-wage manufacturing jobs,’’ Sen. Wyden said at a news conference to make the announcement in Hillsboro with SolarWorld USA president Mukesh Dulani.

    The bottom line is we have got more evidence that Oregon can compete and Oregon can win in the global economy, added Sen. Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “We have better workers making high-quality products and they are going to be in demand around the world.”

    He also praised SolarWorld both for the addition of 200 high-tech manufacturing jobs back into the Portland-area economy in the next nine months and for fighting the illegal Chinese subsidy of that country’s solar companies.

    And he thanked Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, whose congressional district includes Hillsboro, for their work with him on achieving justice for SolarWorld.

    At the news conference, Dulani took pride in SolarWorld’s growth, its employees and their perseverance in the face of illegal Chinese business practices. He also delivered his “heartfelt thanks” to Sen. Wyden.

    This day marks a great turnaround for this company and we should all be especially proud,” Dulani said. Today we stand here to say to our workers and to our children …  that solar manufacturing is here to stay, and we will fight very hard to make sure it does.”

    Without Senator Wyden’s support, this will not be possible,’’ he said. “He has been a great friend to this company through all of the tough times and we are very happy to have him here today to celebrate our good news.”  

    After the news conference, Sen. Wyden spoke to about 200 employees at a forum that began with re-hired employees Zach Von Weller and Robert Thatcher presenting Sen. Wyden with a commemorative plaque to say “thank you” for his work supporting the solar industry.

    Sen. Wyden spoke at the employee forum about Oregon’s green manufacturing base and the United States standing poised to be a worldwide leader in cutting-edge solar research, development and production.

    Sen. Wyden told the employees that he had sounded the alarm three years ago that China was taking America’s “manufacturing jobs” by dumping products in the United States below cost. He said then and now that the trade laws must be used to enforce the rules of free and fair trade.

    As a result of investigations by Sen. Wyden’s office, by SolarWorld, and ultimately by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, the evidence became clear that China was cheating and that Oregon workers were hurt.

    These investigations enabled the U.S. government to slap import tariffs -- the enforcement of America’s trade laws -- on solar panels from China.

    The bottom line is these jobs are certainly worth fighting for,” Senator Wyden said, “which is why I am so honored to be a partner in this.

  • Creating manufacturing jobs at home in McMinnville

    As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden knows the importance of innovative partnerships between the private sector and local schools to provide training that will generate good-paying manufacturing jobs in Oregon and nationwide.

    On Tuesday, he saw just such a partnership in action in Yamhill County between Yamhill-Carlton High School and Meggitt Polymers and Composites in nearby McMinnville.

    Meggitt makes polymer-related seals for the aerospace industry and has worked with other local businesses to develop an outreach program for the workforce it needs locally.

    During his visit to the high school, Sen. Wyden heard from top Meggitt officials as well as from school teachers and administrators how the estimated $250,000 the company has contributed to the school over the past three years has benefited students.

    Yamhill-Carlton students have received top-notch equipment and exposure to manufacturing techniques and machinery used at Meggitt, had their manufacturing shop completely rebuilt, and interacted directly with Meggitt executives and employees.

    It’s so exciting what’s going on at the high school,” Sen. Wyden said after an hourlong visit that included touring the school’s metal and wood shops and speaking with an AP government class. “It doesn’t get any better than this.

    From the high school, Sen. Wyden traveled to visit Meggitt’s facility in McMinnville. After touring the facility, Sen. Wyden spoke with about 75 employees and fielded their questions in a half-hour forum.

    He told the employees that he sees his job as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee as working to raise everybody’s wages, which he called “one of the premier economic issues of our time.”

    Sen. Wyden said one in five Oregon jobs depends on international trade, which often pay better than other jobs.

    Oregon prospers, he told the Meggitt employees, when it grows and makes products in the state, adds value to products in Oregon and then ships those products somewhere. He said that’s what happening at Meggitt.

    It’s clear what the ambition is here in McMinnville -- to beat the pants off the competition,” Sen. Wyden said.

    People in politics don’t create jobs,” he added. “The jobs come from you all -- the private sector … If I can help set the climate right, you all can do your thing.”

    Sen. Wyden spoke of how his bipartisan plan to lower the top tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent would “reward the people who create what I call good-paying red-white-and-blue jobs.”

    Asked his definition of a good-paying job, Sen. Wyden described it as one that “lets you buy a house, buy a car, educate your kids ….maybe even once in a while go on a trip to the coast for a couple of days.”

    He linked the job training that students at Yamhill-Carlton High School are receiving from Meggitt as a vital support to ensure Oregon continues to grow its manufacturing base.

    This is a big piece of Oregon’s economic future,” he said. “Middle-class people are hurting and we need these kinds of jobs.”

  • Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International Provide Ebola Status Report to Sen. Wyden

    Oregon-based groups describe their work fighting Ebola; offer perspective on the threat the disease poses

    With the swirl of uncertainty, anxiety and saturation news coverage surrounding Ebola, Sen. Wyden decided to seek out experts to learn more about the disease and the efforts underway to combat it both here and overseas.

    Ron didn’t have to go very far. The Portland area is home to Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International – two world-class organizations that are on the frontlines in the battle against Ebola in West Africa.

    On Thursday he met in Portland with Craig Redmond, senior vice president of Programs at Mercy Corps and Joe DiCarlo, vice president of programs at Medical Teams International.

    Both these organizations have staff on the ground in West Africa doing difficult and heroic work under very tough conditions. The work they and others are doing in this battle cannot be praised and recognized enough.

    It also means Redmond and DiCarlo have valuable first-hand knowledge of what’s working and what’s not as we battle the disease. They know what changes are needed and most importantly, they can offer clear-headed suggestions for how to talk about this serious public health threat.

    What they told Sen. Wyden only reinforced some important points:

    • Ebola is dangerous but the likelihood of people in everyday life in the United States becoming infected is miniscule since the only way to contract Ebola is by coming into direct contact with body fluids of an infected person. The recent cases in Texas have highlighted changes in hospital protocol, education and infection control that should add additional protections and assurance that the disease is being contained.

    • And while we must be vigilant and fully prepared, people living in Oregon need to keep in mind some absolute facts: There are no direct flights to or from countries affected by the outbreak, which adds additional layers of security from the disease.

    • The federal government is providing more robust screening of passengers from countries affected by Ebola. In the very unlikely event that Ebola reaches Oregon, state and local health departments have been working closely with the CDC to establish effective quarantine and isolation procedures.

    A key challenge for Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International is training community health workers in the affected countries with a special focus on prevention and getting vital health information on the ground to trusted community leaders.

    Both organizations also stressed the need to make sure badly needed supplies are not held up by Liberian officials in Liberian ports. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden told officials he would follow up to see what steps must be taken to loosen that bottleneck.

    Solving the bottleneck is important here because, while the cases in the United States are an alarming wake-up call, health officials - including one from Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International - agree that the way to end the epidemic and protect us all is by extinguishing it at the source in West Africa.

    Mercy Corps, for example, is providing crucial assistance in helping educate people in Liberia about the best ways to respond to Ebola and protect themselves. Public health experts agree that this is essential to breaking the chain of infection.

    Medical Teams International, meanwhile, is providing medical supplies and training for community health workers to help prevent the spread of the virus. This is equally crucial to stopping the chain of infection and to stabilize the populations in West Africa as much as possible until the full weight of the international response is in place.

    After the briefing, Sen. Wyden met with a standing-room only gathering of about 125 workers from both organizations, fielding questions for nearly an hour.

    He told the gathering that he was there to “listen and learn” in a non-politicized setting.

    And he praised both Oregon-based groups for their heroic work and the stellar reputations that both carry worldwide.

    "Your organizations are both synonymous with trust," Wyden said. “All of you in your program make us so proud because this is a chance for Oregonians to help and for Oregonians to send a message about what our values are all about.

    Asked about the potential that a downturn in the stock market might spark economic uncertainty, Sen. Wyden said to loud applause that he will preserve the charitable deduction - crucial to organizations like Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International - as part of tax reform.

    It is not a loophole,” he said. “It is a lifeline.