Entries in Trade (5)


Women Get Skills to Break Into Traditional Men’s Trades

Design Pics/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- In the shadow of a Long Beach, Calif. power plant, a dozen women step into tool belts, don hard hats and learn how to carry a bucket of cement up a flight of stairs to get a leg up on trades usually dominated by men.

According to a 2009 Department of Labor report, while gender equality has made headway in the executive ranks -- a quarter of CEOs are women -- less than 1 percent of 77,000 U.S. ironworkers and steelworkers are female.

Sherron Ballard, 55, used to be a real estate agent -- now she wants to work in construction.

Ballard told ABC News that she was making the job switch for the higher income, which would help her raise her daughter.  

She is participating in a grueling 10-week program by Women in Non Traditional Employment Roles (WINTER). The Los Angeles-based group, in it's fifteenth year, trains women to become plumbers, electricians and ironworkers -- well-paid, blue-collar occupations previously dominated by men.

At one California construction site, 250 men worked alongside two females.

WINTER’s goal is to tip that balance. The women earn safety certificates, learn about timekeeping, what to wear on construction sites and how to handle discrimination.

“When they go out there for their first job, a lot of people are gonna look at them and say: ‘Why aren’t you home? What are you doing here? Are you sure you’re in the right place?’ And they need to learn how to brush it off and continue on with their work,” said Berta Campos, a program instructor. “I think we need more women in order for men to change their mind and we have to prove them wrong.”

“Women have to go out to work,” said Donna Williamson, who recently graduated from the program. “I have a child. I have to support him.”

Williamson, a 41-year-old single mother, used to make minimum wage selling skateboards in a bike shop. Now she’s an apprentice ironworker making $28 an hour, and her wages are sure to increase as she progresses in her career.

“I used to drive around and I’d look at the guys on the beams, on the high-rises, and it’s one of those intriguing things,” she said. “There are not a whole lot of women in the construction field. At the end of the day, you are dirty, you are sweating, you don’t smell the greatest and that’s fine with me.”

“I love my job,” Williamson continued. “If I can do it, they [women] can do it. And I’m only 5’2.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama: Congress Can Approve Trade Deals 'Right Now,' but Deals Still on His Desk

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has touted three pending U.S. trade deals as measures that could immediately spur job growth, if only Congress would approve them to become law.  The only problem: the White House has not yet formally sent the deals to Congress for a vote.

"With 1.3 million jobs lost under the 'stimulus' binge and the unemployment rate over 9 percent, there's no excuse for the White House to delay a moment longer," said Don Seymour, communications director for House Speaker John Boehner, in a blog post Friday. "If President Obama wants Congress to 'go ahead and get those trade deals done,' he should submit them for ratification as soon as possible."

Officials announced in June that, after months of negotiation between the administration and congressional Republicans, they had agreed to the overall terms of the trade deals and an accompanying piece of legislation, known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance program -- essentially clearing the way for the legislation to become law.

“As a result of extensive negotiations, we now have an agreement on the underlying terms for a meaningful renewal of a strengthened TAA,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Jun. 29.  “Now it is time to move forward with the TAA and with the Korea, Colombia and Panama trade agreements, which will support tens of thousands of jobs.”

The development was praised by members of both parties and the business community, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has lobbied heavily for passage of the trade deals.  

But the next step -- actual votes on the agreements -- remains mired in partisan finger-pointing over when and how the legislation should be brought to the floor in both chambers.

“There's a dispute because the president wants to pass the treaties in tandem with trade adjustment assistance for any workers who might be -- American workers who might be disadvantaged by the treaties,” said senior Obama strategist David Axelrod on ABC's This Week.  “We feel like we reached an agreement or made progress in the Senate.  We need to get this through Congress come the fall.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters on Aug. 3 that he would only allow movement on the trade agreements once the TAA has passed.

And the White House says it won’t send the deals to the Hill until an agreement is reached on how votes will proceed, which would preferably include guarantees the legislation won’t be subjected to change or amendment, or filibuster in the Senate.

So, while the president says, “right now, Congress can advance a set of trade agreements,” and that “Congress could do right now,” that’s only partly true, so long as the partisan divide over the votes runs as long as Pennsylvania Ave.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US and Mexico End Decades-Long Trucking Dispute, Boost Trade

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MEXICO CITY) -- The United States and Mexico reached an agreement Wednesday to end a ban on Mexican trucks entering the U.S., which lasted nearly two decades.  Putting an end to the measure will cut punitive tariffs by half within the next 10 days and remove the rest on about $2.4 billion worth of U.S. products by the end of this summer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Mexican Communications and Transportation Minister Dionisio Perez-Jacome signed the agreement in Mexico City Wednesday.  LaHood's outlook on trade was a positive one.

"The agreements signed today are a win for roadway safety and they are a win for trade," he said in a statement Wednesday.

The expectation is that road safety will improve under the terms of the agreement.  The pact requires that Mexican trucks carry monitoring systems that will track hours of service and routes; drivers partake in tests of their ability to read and understand English and U.S. traffic signs; drivers take drug test on a regular basis and that they allow for reviews of driving records.  U.S. drivers and trucks will comply under the same terms in Mexico.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday lauded the agreement to end the ban and boost exports to Mexico.

"This is a vital step toward a more efficient U.S.-Mexico border," said Chamber president and CEO, Thomas J. Donahue.  "We urge Congress to support this agreement and let this dispute be brought to an end."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Readies Trade Deals with Colombia, Panama, South Korea

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House announced Wednesday it is ready to send U.S. trade deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea to Congress, senior administration officials said. White House officials said they are ready to move to the next stage in the legislative process and hope that talks will begin Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“We expect the work to begin now on all three FTAs,” or free trade agreements, a senior administration official said, “and we look forward to Congress getting each one of those agreements ready for a vote.”

The precise sequencing, timing, and packaging need to be worked out over the next few weeks.

Republicans had previously threatened to block the South Korea agreement, finalized in December of last year, if the White House did not also send the other two, Colombia and Panama. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk sent a letter Wednesday to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees indicating that the deal is now ready to move “to the next stage in the process.”

In the letter Kirk says that “more work” needs to be done on Columbia but the agreement allows all three FTA’s to begin the process of implementing review by staff and beginning the process of legislative approval.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Pleased with Korea Trade Deal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Calling it a “landmark” deal, President Obama said Saturday he’s “very pleased” with the free-trade agreement the United States and South Korea have worked out.

“This deal is a win for American workers, for farmers and ranchers,” the president announced this afternoon in a statement read from the White House. 

Obama boasted that the deal will contribute significantly to his goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years by opening up the Korean market to American aerospace products, electronics, and cars and trucks. 

“In short, the tariff reductions in this agreement alone are expected to boost annual exports of American goods by up to 11 billion. All told, this agreement, including the opening of the Korean service market, will support at least 70,000 American jobs,” Obama said.

The deal now must be ratified by Congress and approved by lawmakers in South Korea.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports passage of the agreement, and its president said in a statement Friday that the lobby organization will do everything in its power to round up the votes needed. 

News of the trade agreement was announced late Friday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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