U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) Sunday credited the federal aid and restructuring of the U.S. auto industry for creating new auto jobs in Ohio when he stopped by United Auto Workers Local 12 in Toledo for a 40-minute news conference.
Senator Brown said the federal assistance program not only stabilized Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. but also helped save and add manufacturing jobs throughout Ohio.
Prior to the auto rescue, about 55 percent of the parts in Chrysler's Toledo-built Jeep Wrangler were made in the United States. Today, 70 percent of the Jeep Wrangler is U.S.-made, with many parts made in Ohio, he said.
The senator quoted a 2010 report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Ann Arbor, that Ohio added more than 3,000 auto jobs between 2009 and 2010, and will add more than 3,500 by 2015. More than 792,00 Ohio jobs depend on the auto industry, according to the center.
"Four years ago, the auto industry was facing unprecedented challenges," Senator Brown said in prepared remarks provided after the news conference. "The future was precarious not just at General Motors and Chrysler, but at Ford and foreign nameplates, and at manufacturers and suppliers throughout Ohio."
"But through the restructuring, we acted. And since then, we are seeing positive growth across our state," he said. "In northwest Ohio alone, this past year, we've seen new, major investments at the Chrysler Assembly complex and at General Motors' Powertrain plant in Defiance."
At the news conference, Senator Brown was joined by Ken Lortz, UAW regional director, Region 2B, and Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Ann Arbor center.
Additionally, the senator called for creating fair conditions for U.S.-China auto parts trade, with China planning to invest $1.5 trillion in strategic industries--including autos--over the next five years.
"American automakers and auto workers can compete with anyone, but not if we're playing on an unlevel playing field," he said. "And between export subsidies and currency manipulation, it's no wonder that since 2001, the U.S. auto parts deficit with China has grown exponentially--to $10.2 billion in 2011."
"So while there are jobs to be retained and created in the auto sector, we have to remain vigilant and we have to use trade enforcement tools to level the playing field for Ohio auto parts manufacturers," he said.
The press conference was held in advance of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, to be held Jan. 14 to Jan. 22 in Cobo Hall.