Delegates to the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh jumped to their feet and roundly applauded this morning when USW International President Leo W. Gerard announced a Steelworker victory in a major trade case against China.
Acting on a case filed last April by the USW under Section 421 of U.S. trade laws, President Obama has decided to impose punitive tariffs on all car and light truck tires coming into the United States from China. He made the announcement late Friday and signed the proclamation on Sunday.
“For the first time in 20 years, we have a president who stood up to enforce the laws that have been robbing workers of their jobs,’’ Gerard said to applause from the delegates.
“That could not have happened without the active participation of our rank-and-file members who sent 72,000 letters to the administration and it could not have happened without you and your unions, and it could not have happened without the leaders of the AFL-CIO – John Sweeney, Richard Trumka and Arlene Holt. They stood and supported us,” Gerard said.
“What we showed is workers together can never be defeated. Although we are many, we stood as one. This is important.”
President Obama had until this Thursday to accept, reject or modify a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling that a rising surge of Chinese tires into the United States harmed the domestic industry
The federal panel recommended a 55 percent tariff in the first year, 45 percent in the second and 35 percent in the third year. President Obama, however, imposed tariffs of 35 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second and 25 percent in the third.
The USW, when it filed the trade case, had sought relief in the form of quotas. Despite imposing a different remedy than recommended by the ITC, the USW is optimistic that the steps taken by the president will provide real and effective relief.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the decision was based carefully on America’s rights under the rules of the World Trade Organization, namely China’s accession agreement to the WTO, and on sound economic calculations.
China nevertheless condemned the White House announcement as protectionist and said it violated global trade rules.