WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, February 20th, television and film star John Ratzenberger will host the final 'Keep it Made in America' town hall meeting in Chicago, IL. The Chicago event is the seventh and final town hall in a series of national meetings sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) to spotlight growing concerns about the challenges facing American workers and manufacturers. From his humble beginnings in Bridgeport, Connecticut, John Ratzenberger gained international fame on the acclaimed television series Cheers. Today, Ratzenberger hosts his own show about American manufacturing on the Travel Channel, John Ratzenberger's Made in America. "I'm proud to partner with the Alliance for American Manufacturing on the 'Keep it Made in America' town hall meetings," said Ratzenberger. "I've traveled all across this country and I've seen firsthand how manufacturing drives our economy. Chicagoans understand that. Our town hall meetings are designed to engage, educate, and inspire people to take on trade and manufacturing issues; to remind them that 'Made in America' means good jobs and safe products." The U.S has lost 3.2 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, losses that have reverberated in Illinois and NW Indiana. While manufacturing is still the largest part of both states' economies, Illinois has lost more than 194,000 manufacturing jobs over the past seven years, and Indiana has lost 110,000. To put that into perspective, the total job losses represent a number larger than any city in Illinois or Indiana outside of Chicago and Indianapolis. "Chicago's economic success and the future of American manufacturing go hand in hand," said Doug Bartlett, Chairman, Bartlett Manufacturing Company, Inc. "We should demand answers to the tough questions on trade and manufacturing. Will our companies and workers be given a level playing field, or will we let countries like China cheat on international trade and watch our manufacturing jobs continue to move offshore? Americans should be asking these very important questions." Minority communities have been hit particularly hard by manufacturing job losses. Since 2000, more than 300,000 African American men have lost jobs in the manufacturing sector, the highest rate of any ethnic group. The heaviest job losses for Latinos are concentrated in manufacturing and retail trade as well, which together account for 40 percent of all Hispanic unemployment. "Minority workers in and around Chicago have been disproportionately affected by manufacturing job losses," said Tammi Davis, President, NAACP, Gary, Indiana branch. "It's important that we recognize the vital role manufacturing plays in our communities. The job losses are not just statistics, they represent workers and families right here in Indiana and Illinois that are struggling to stay afloat." The "Keep it Made in America" town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 20th, at the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th and Lakeshore Drive. Doors open at 6:00 pm. The program begins at 6:30 pm. Admission is free and is open to the general public. During the town hall meeting, Ratzenberger will encourage people to consider three key questions about America's commitment manufacturing: -- How will we save American manufacturing jobs? -- What policies will strengthen the American manufacturing base, which is vital to our economic and national security? -- What steps can we take to enforce trade laws and hold cheating countries like China accountable? "The manufacturers and workers of Illinois and NW Indiana share John Ratzenberger's and AAM's dedication to strengthening American manufacturing, and we're excited to work together to focus on these issues," said Scott Paul, AAM's executive director. "For America to remain the leader in the global economy, we have to overcome some very real challenges that threaten the vital core of our economic engine. Our town hall meetings are initiating this important dialogue and empowering people to continue the discussion with their neighbors and community leaders." The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a unique non-partisan, labor-management partnership forged to strengthen manufacturing in the U.S. For more information visit: www.americanmanufacturing.org.
SOURCE Alliance for American Manufacturing