Kilroy Addresses UAW Concerns

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200 UAW workers gather to hear Kilroy's plans for improving unemployment rates.(Photo: Lauren Schmoll, WOSU News)
200 UAW workers gather to hear Kilroy's plans for improving unemployment rates.(Photo: Lauren Schmoll, WOSU News)

Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy is making a second attempt at reaching Capitol Hill, after losing by a slim margin two years ago to Republican Deborah Pryce. This time, she’s taking on Republican State Senator Steve Stivers.

This local race is already picking up where the presidential primary left off with a big focus on trade and lost jobs.

Trade was the topic of choice today, as Kilroy addressed more than 200 workers laid off from GM’s Delphi plant.

WOSU’s Lauren Schmoll was there.

Things haven’t been good at UAW Local 969.

Potholes pit the now seldom used drive, and a for sale sign sits just in front of the entrance.

But inside it’s a different story.

John Waldman is one of the hundreds of former Delphi workers at the UAW. He’s curious to see what type of change Mary Jo Kilroy has planned.

Waldman does not blame General Motors for the plant’s closing. He says the trouble is in Washington, and that’s why he wants to see change.

They exported the jobs,” Waldman said. “It’s not an even playing field. It’s not GM’s fault. It’s the whole system. That we’re allowing any system to go over there and take the jobs at less price.

Another former Delphi employee, James Brown agrees.

“I think it’s a combination of GM’s greed, and the government just letting the big companies do what they want to do,” Brown said. “When I first started out here working at Delphi, we had over 5000 jobs, all those are gone.”

And that’s exactly what Mary Jo Kilroy wants to change if she makes it to the Capitol.

Unfair trade deals give an unfair advantage to foreign competitors,” Kilroy said. “Delphi plant is standing empty and that is a testament to how NAFTA has ravaged this community.

But A.C. Delco chairman Tom Knox says he isn’t so sure that NAFTA is a bad thing.

NAFTA had some good things in it for different states too,” Knox said. “What we need to do is look at it and make it fair for everybody.

Republican Candidate Steve Stivers says fair trade is important, but that by focusing on NAFTA as a reason for job loss leaves out a very important piece of the puzzle.

We’ve lost 250,000 manufacturing jobs in the last ten years,” Stivers said. “The biggest number of those jobs have been lost to automation not to trade. We’ve got the same amount of economic output, but less workers needed for that amount of manufacturing.

Either way, James Brown is looking forward to November.