Yesterday President Cox penned an op-ed recalling how bad trade policies destroyed his hometown of Kannapolis, NC. Read it below:
by J. David Cox
Watching the discussion around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) gives me a nasty sense of déjà vu.
Long before joining AFGE, I worked as a food service worker, licensed practical nurse, and registered nurse in my hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina. In those days, Kannapolis was just another Southern mill town full of honest, working class people just trying to get by. Working at the textile mill was hard, but it was honest work that supported hundreds of families, and that was enough for generations of us to buy homes and support our families. That was, until the cheap imports started arriving from overseas.
It didn't take long for things to unravel after that. The vacancies came first, then the pink slips, then delinquency notices, then the foreclosure notices. Men and women who had been working in the mills their whole lives – my family members included – were now out of work, and whole communities were left without a means to put food on the table.
After the textile mills closed, so did the clothing factories, then the lunch counters and convenience stores. Soon there was nothing left but low-paying, no-benefit service jobs, forcing many to supplement their meager earnings with government assistance just to get by. It was like we were trapped in quicksand, and every time we tried to pull ourselves out, we sank further and further into the darkness.