Gov. Strickland ‘hopeful’ Navistar jobs will be retained

SPRINGFIELD — As negotiations between United Auto Workers union and Navistar International Corp. take place, Gov. Ted Strickland stopped in Springfield to talk to potential voters about job retention and loss in the area.

The governor stopped at the United Auto Workers Local 402 union hall on Urbana Road Tuesday, Aug. 24, to address union members, interested area residents and elected officials.

“I talked to Navistar company leadership last week,” he said of the on-going local and national contract talks that began Monday, Aug. 23. “I’m concerned, but hopeful that jobs will be retained and potentially increased. I have offered my assistance in any way possible.”

There is nothing to report from the talks this early in the process, said UAW Local 402 President Jason Barlow.

Strickland, a Democrat running for re-election, was vocal about his opponent, John Kasich, and the Republican’s record on trade and its impact on Ohio jobs.

Ohio’s gubernatorial race is one of 37 taking place across the U.S. in 2010, and is one of 14 being called a “toss-up” by the Washington Post.

Kasich’s votes for NAFTA and to give China most favored trading status have cost Ohio about 140,000 jobs, Strickland said.

The governor said Kasich also tried to eliminate trade adjustment assistance that would have offered training to displaced workers.

To ensure the state’s future, the governor said the focus needs to remain on foundational issues, including increasing funding for K-12 education, reducing property taxes for seniors, expanding health care availability for Ohio children, and making Ohio an attractive place to do business.

Ohio’s unemployment rate is improving slowly, aided in part by the more than $2 billion in new construction projects taking place across the state.

Strickland focused much of his time on the economic crisis the country is facing, stating the current situation is the worst recession the state has experienced in at least 70 years.

“I’ve got a lot of fight in me because I know what’s at stake — the future of our state. ... This crisis is real. We haven’t seen anything like this in our lifetime,” Strickland said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0371 or elroberts@coxohio.com