Valley businessman is DeLauro’s guest at State of the Union address

A Valley businessman joined U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday night.

John Barto, vice president and general manager of the now-closed Ansonia Specialty Metals, was the guest of DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton.

DeLauro invited Barto to Washington to make a statement about trade policy. Ansonia Specialty Metals was forced to close after trade deals increased competition from Mexico, Germany and Korea, according to DeLauro’s office.

“Ansonia Specialty Metals was subsequently undercut by businesses from those countries, resulting in the demise of a Connecticut company that dated back to 1847,” said a release from DeLauro.

Once employed 350 workers

“The story of Ansonia Specialty Metals is unfortunately one that is all too common across our country,” said DeLauro, a Democrat just starting her 13th term.

“I visited Ansonia Specialty Metals — back when it was Ansonia Copper and Brass — and was very impressed with the facilities and the dedicated workforce,” she said. “At one time that workforce numbered around 350 in the Ansonia and Waterbury communities.

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“To restore long-term prosperity in America,” DeLauro continued, “we have to go back to being a country that builds things, not just one that consumes goods made overseas”

Barto: U.S. now buys from overseas

Barto said as little as a generation ago, people who didn’t attend college could make a good living at a company like Ansonia Specialty Metals.

“That is a reason why America thrived for so many years, through the industrial era, and built a strong middle class,” he said. “Unfortunately our trade deals have helped lead to the elimination of many of those jobs, as we saw in Ansonia and Waterbury.

“Further, when we Ansonia Specialty Metals shut our doors, the U.S. government started buying products from companies in Mexico, Germany and Korea,” Barto said. “So now taxpayer dollars are going to support workers overseas when Connecticut families are struggling.”

Oppose fast-track authority

DeLauro and Barto oppose granting fast-track authority for any new trade agreements.

DeLauro represents the Third Congressional District, which is centered in the greater New Haven area. Much of Shelton is in the Fourth Congressional District, represented by U.S. Jim Himes, also a Democrat.