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By Crystal Oko

Jobs moved to Mexico

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  • By Crystal Oko

    Jobs Lost to Mexico

    Jobs Lost to Mexico

    A failing auto industry, a race to the bottom and a recession.  Those are teh three elements of the perfect storm for employess of automotive parts maker, TRW.More >>

KTTC-DT -- Wednesday night, we told you about TRW moving jobs from Winona to Reynosa, Mexico.

But the clock may be ticking on all this. Congress may take action on a bill later this year that could turn the clock back on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Act.

It's a measure proposed last summer called the TRADE Act.

And people who are supporting it include our own First District Congressman Tim Walz.

There are a lot of people out there who are suggesting that NAFTA has done things no one expected.

In Minnesota alone, the AFL-CIO says NAFTA is to blame for the loss of more than 58,000 jobs.

Jobs that once employed local people, helped them pay for their homes, their cars and their livelihood,are being shipped south of the border in record numbers. Last night, we shared the latest from just one of them, TRW in Winona.

"And they bring all these lines and all these people and then a year or two down the road it's like, oh we're shipping these down to make them cheaper. It's like well, why? We make such great products here. It's just like why?" said Derrick Pagel.

TRW, an automotive parts maker in Winona has reduced it's jobs from 320 to 90, sending Minnesota jobs to Reynosa, Mexico. The border city, just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas, has grown from a population of 32,000 to 1.2 million in just 25 years. There now 200 factories in Reynosa. The average wage at TRW in Winona is 12.95 an hour. We're told that the average wage in Reynosa is something like 6.50 a DAY. So American companies are simply taking advantage of cheap labor, and our people are paying the price.

As you can see by the numbers scrolling down the screen, the TRW workers are just some of the 58,000 Minnesotans who have watched their jobs go south. In the U.S., the number is more staggering-3.1 million manufacturing jobs have been moved out of the country.

Derrick Pagel was laid-off after 9 1/2 years.

"It's just like part of business. They got to do what they got to do to save costs I guess but at the same time you're kind of ruining some people's lives and jobs. It's tough to see," said Pagel.

But the evidence is right in front of us on I-35. Trucks running up an down I-35 between the Upper Midwest and Mexico this is often called "The NAFTA Corridor." The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in the 1990's and it lifted trade barriers with our northern neighbors, Canada. And to the south, Mexico.

TRW is just one of the many companies that aren't doing anything wrong, just taking advantage of the system. So have we gone too far? What were we thinking?

During the presidential campaign, now-President Obama and his main Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, both talked about a NAFTA overhaul of some kind in the first hundred days. But now that both of them are on the world stage-what chance does this really have? We don't really know what was discussed at every stop of the President's trip last week in Mexico. One congressman supporting a bill called the TRADE Act, is DFLer Tim Walz of Mankato.

"We don't want to incentivize people to get a tax break to take their jobs overseas. We'll compete with anyone in the world on a level playing field. The problem is right now that it's not level. We'll never race them to the bottom on wages. They can always pay them less. We have to incentivize companies to be here," said Rep. Tim Walz.

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