U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today met with Whirlpool Corp. CEO Jeff Fettig in Washington and reaffirmed his pledge to fight for the company's Ohio jobs against unfair competition from Mexico and South Korea. The meeting follows a visit Brown made to Whirlpool's plant in Clyde last week. Following his visit to the plant, Brown urged the Obama Administration to investigate unfair foreign trade practices and defend manufacturing jobs at Whirlpool.
"Whirlpool has five of its nine American factories in Ohio, supporting thousands of good-paying jobs across our state. These are jobs that are too important to lose to unfair foreign competition from South Korea and Mexico," Brown said. "Ohio workers can compete with anyone--we have a long, proud history of manufacturing in our state. But it's not competing when foreign competitors dump their products in our market--it's cheating. The Obama Administration must take an aggressive approach to the unfair trade practices of Whirlpool's competitors that aren't playing by the rules. When we enforce trade law, we encourage companies like Whirlpool to preserve and even bring back additional jobs to U.S. factories."
Last week, Brown led a letter, also signed by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to the U.S. Commerce Department asking the agency to enforce trade laws that level the playing field for companies like Whirlpool. In December 2011, Whirlpool--which is based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and whose largest American factory is in Clyde, Ohio--filed a case with the Commerce Department regarding the dumping of large residential washers, made in South Korea and Mexico, into the U.S. market. These unfairly dumped imports place companies that manufacture their product in America, like Whirlpool, at an unfair disadvantage.
"We must ensure that companies that do bring jobs home to the United States, such as Whirlpool, are not handicapped by unfair trade practices perpetrated by their foreign competitors," the senators wrote. "When companies engage in dumping and benefit from unfair foreign government subsidies, it harms American companies and workers and the communities in which they operate."
The senators asked the Commerce Department to strongly enforce trade law in Whirlpool's case, applying antidumping and countervailing duties on these washers if need be, in order to create a level playing field and ensure that Whirlpool's American manufacturing footprint can be preserved. In the letter, the senators state that in order to encourage the creation of new jobs, Whirlpool--which has previously brought jobs to the United States from overseas--should be able to trade on a fair global market. According to the company, the Whirlpool Corporation has more U.S. manufacturing jobs than all its major competitors combined, and more than 80 percent of the products it sells in America are made in the U.S.