Good morning Chairman Murphy, Co-Chairman Visclosky and steel caucus members. I am Tom Conway, the International Vice President of the United Steelworkers (USW). The USW is the largest industrial union in North America with 850,000 active members working in a broad range of manufacturing industries, including basic steel and steel products. In short, USW members are the heart of the nation’s industrial base.
Thank-you for inviting me here today. While things have improved somewhat since I was last here, the American economy remains fragile and uncertain. High unemployment, underemployment, wage stagnation and home foreclosures all show an economy still struggling to regain its footing. For American manufacturing communities the 2008 crash is still causing devastation and comes on top of the ongoing destruction the manufacturing sector has endured. Over the last decade alone six million manufacturing jobs and 55,000 manufacturing facilities have been lost. A greater and greater amount of manufactured goods is being imported and more and more U.S. companies are off-shoring manufacturing. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that our trade deficit with China alone from 2001-2008 caused the loss of 2.4 million manufacturing jobs here. New data from the Department of Commerce show U.S. companies cut their workforces in the U.S. by a staggering 2.9 million during the 2000s while adding 2.4 million jobs overseas, many of them in manufacturing. A recent report, Manufacturing Insecurity: America’s Manufacturing Crisis and the Erosion of the US Defense Industrial Base, describes the danger the nation faces as a consequence. The health of our manufacturing base and our defense industrial base are inextricably linked and both in peril.
But what is happening is not irreversible if we can find the political will to act. The world has changed but what has not changed is the creativity, the productivity and determination of our people and certainly of USW members. While bad trade policies and near total neglect of our manufacturing base has lead us to the brink of disaster, a proactive agenda of good trade policies and thoughtful national manufacturing investments can turn us toward prosperity. The Make it in America Agenda proposed by Mr. Hoyer offers a combination of measures that can help to reverse the decline so we can put people back to work in productive ways making steel and other goods that can be sold at home and exported abroad. For example, bills that expand Buy America to taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects, like Congresswoman Sutton’s bill involving clean drinking water infrastructure, or the Chair and Vice Chair’s bills expanding the reach of Buy America for iron and steel use, are a good start ... more