Guest column/Brown a trusted ally for all Ohio workers

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, is trying to fool Ohioans to believe that he can be trusted to fight unfair trade deals that have hurt Ohio communities and cost jobs. But Steelworkers know the real story — Renacci has spent his career looking out for himself, not working Ohioans.

Renacci has repeatedly sided with the powerful special interests who’ve always held the pen on unfair trade deals that hurt Ohio workers. Since joining the House of Representatives in 2011, Renacci has consistently voted in favor of free trade. He supported free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. He voted for trade promotion authority or “fast track,” which would have let the Trans-Pacific Partnership sail to passage. And we know the devastation TPP would have done to our state, having lost more than 112,000 jobs due to trade with TPP countries.

And worse, when given opportunities to stand up to China, Renacci squandered them. Renacci actually voted multiple times against tools to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation. After President Donald Trump announced steel tariffs in March, Renacci struggled to take a real position for months.

It’s clear that now that he’s running for U.S. Senate, Renacci is trying to convince Ohioans he is tough on China and unfair trade. But those of us who spent our time in the mill or the union hall know who’s really on our side. That’s Sherrod Brown.

Unlike Renacci, Sen. Sherrod Brown has been a trusted ally of Ohio Steelworkers along the Ohio River and across our state. Brown recognizes the challenges facing our industry because he spends time at steel facilities and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our state’s Steelworkers.

Renacci can call his opponent an “obstructionist,” but make no mistake, it’s Brown, not Renacci, who has worked on behalf of Ohio with President Trump and his trade team.

Just days after the election, Brown reached out to the administration to offer to help make good on the president’s promise to retool U.S. trade policy so it helps Ohio workers. Brown followed up with a note to Trump with steps to make that promise a reality — from cracking down on unfair steel imports to holding China accountable for its cheating. And he’s stayed on top of the administration to get things done.

Brown applauded the administration’s decision to investigate steel imports last year and pressed the White House for U.S. steel industry relief. His consistent outreach and a meeting with President Trump at the White House on steel helped lead to the tariffs that were announced in March.

Now, he is working with Trump’s team to make sure these tariffs are targeted at Chinese cheating. Just last month, when his fellow senators tried to gut the president’s tariffs, Brown told them hell no, urging them instead to work with him and the president to strike a deal with allies to crack down on China.

This wasn’t the first time Brown stood up to both parties to protect Ohio workers. He opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Barack Obama pushed and Republicans supported, and successfully urged President Trump to withdraw from the agreement, which would have hurt Ohio’s manufacturing sector. And, he’s worked with his colleague Sen. Rob Portman to enact the Leveling the Playing Field Act into law, which has led to real relief for companies across Ohio.

Brown’s work on trade is just one of the reasons Steelworkers trust him. He has stood up for our collective bargaining rights at every turn, and he’s always listened when we shared our concerns with him. For his revisionist history and false claims in this paper on July 1 (“We need more leaders who will fight for region”), Ohio workers ought to examine Renacci’s real record. They should consider if he’s really on their sides, because there’s no question that’s where Sherrod Brown is.

(Blatt is the assistant to the director-USW District 1. He worked at Ormet in Hannibal.)