Democratic Congressional candidate Dan Maffei used the almost-empty former New Process Gear factory in East Syracuse as a backdrop to call for policies that he says would bring more manufacturing jobs back to central New York. Maffei says NAFTA-like trade agreements are one reason the sprawling complex that once employed hundreds of central New Yorkers is now idle.
Maffei believes the problem with recent free trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Columbia -- and supported by his opponent in the race for the 24th Congressional District seat, Republican Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle -- is that they create unfair competition for United States companies.
"Our workers can compete with anyone in the world, if it's a fair playing field. That's not what we have with these trade agreements," he said.
Maffei also criticizes Buerkle's vote last year against worker assistance programs, meant to help former employees who lose their jobs due to unfair trade. Former New Process employee John O'Hara says ex-workers really need that help.
"We need people to get trained and get back in the workforce, because we love this community and will do anything to stay here," said O'Hara.
Maffei says the answer to bringing manufacturing back to the area is to end these free trade agreements, end tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas, and support job retraining programs.