Why We Support America COMPETES Act

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have been slowly working on bills to better compete against China and greedy multi-national corporations who seek out low wage and illegal subsidies in foreign countries.

The Senate bill is known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA)(S.1260) and the House bill is named the America COMPETES Act(H.R.4521). Although both bills improve the U.S. government’s response to China’s aggressive policies, only one has meaningful changes for workers and manufacturing employers – The America COMPETES Act.

The USW did not take a stance on USICA when it passed in the Senate because of bad trade provisions added last minute and the lack of worker rights protections. The House, however, agreed that changes needed to be made and included them in the America COMPETES Act, which we did support.

The America Competes Act:

Click below to learn more about the three provisions of the bill we're fighting to keep in the merged bill.

The Leveling the Playing Field Provision

Click here to download a PDF about the Leveling the Playing Field provision you can share with members of your local.

Currently, more than 171 industries, as well as the agriculture and mining sectors, rely on our trade laws to stop illegally dumped and subsidized goods from entering our country. When these laws are upheld, American workers and manufacturers are able to compete globally.

However, bad actors and unscrupulous importers – like China – have targeted U.S. trade enforcement laws, constantly looking for pathways to illegally subsidize and dump their goods into our markets. This caused and continues to cause job losses for USW members who work in these sectors.

For example, as the largest union in tire manufacturing, the USW takes the threat of increased dumped and subsidized tire imports seriously.

Our union won trade cases challenging China illegally importing passenger vehicle, light truck tires (PVLT) and bus, truck and off the road (OTR) tires.

These victories led to $3 billion in domestic investment in new plants and plant upgrades. Unfortunately, state-owned enterprises and multi-national corporations are “country hopping” to get around our enforcement mechanisms, illegally capture market share, and put hard working Americans out of a job.

Here is what the bipartisan provisions included in the America COMPETES Act(also called the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0) do:

  • Creates Accountability – The bill makes it easier for U.S. workers and companies to stop repeat offenders and speeds the enforcement process so manufacturers, agriculture workers and miners can focus on producing American-made goods.
  • Targets Grants for Chinese Companies – Right now, China is spending billions to build factories that will dump products into the U.S. and other markets through a funding strategy called Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI). This global infrastructure development strategy, adopted by the Chinese government in 2013, includes plans to invest in nearly 70 countries and inter-national organizations. The bipartisan America COMPETES Act will give the U.S. government authority to call out those subsidies in trade cases.
  • Improves Enforcement – Importers constantly pull tricks to try and lower or evade duties. The Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 will clarify processes and timelines making the U.S. government more efficient in stopping dumped and illegally subsidized goods.

Technology changes all the time – our trade laws must adjust just as quickly. Including the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 provisions in a final bill that merges USICA and the America COMPETES Act is essential for workers and employers to maintain and improve U.S. competition.

Supply Chain Resiliency Provision

Click here to download a PDF about the Supply Chain Resiliency provision you can share with members of your local.

U.S. manufacturers face an onslaught of foreign industrial subsidies that have forced them to rely on our aging and often insufficient trade laws – while U.S. investment in manufacturing declined.

Like bringing a knife to a gun fight, our country dropped manufacturing investment and the results are staggering.

In June 1979, manufacturing employment reached an all-time peak of 19.6 million. In June 2019, employment was at 12.8 million, down 6.7 million or 35 percent from its high.

Lack of federal investment in our industries left devastating results in some USW represented sectors:

  • Steel – China now accounts for 51.3 percent of global steel production.
  • Titanium – Russia, China, and Ukraine account for 67 percent of global titanium production – while the U.S. has no ability to produce domestic titanium sponge for defense purposes.
  • Aluminum – One country (China) represents 57 percent of global output.
  • Rare Earths – 70 percent of global production is housed in China.
  • Fiber Optic Cable – In 2019, China accounted for 61.6 percent of global production.• Shipbuilding – In 2018, 43.2 percent of the new ships in the world were built in China.

These stunning figures demonstrate that it’s time for Congress to support American manufacturing and ingenuity.

The Senate-passed USICA and House-passed America COMPETES Act both contain supply chain provisions, but they need to be combined into a final bill.

Our union worked hard in a bipartisan fashion with Reps. Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-DE-AL) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) to create a supply chain reinvestment program that will reshore manufacturing from countries like China and Russia back to the United States and allied countries – while incorporating important guard-rails to ensure taxpayer dollars create good jobs.

The USW calls on Congress to incorporate the following bi-partisan provisions in a final merged bill:

  • $45 billion for the Supply Chain Resiliency Act which contains labor peace language to ensure federal investments do not hinder workers’ rights. This fund would support: Manufacturing and retooling of critical goods and industrial equipment; Relocation of manufacturing facilities from China to the United States; Contain labor neutrality language – which allows workers to choose a union.
  • Map and monitor critical industry supply chains, allowing the government to respond to potential job losses in critical manufacturing. For example, 200 USW members in Henderson, Nevada lost their jobs when the last U.S.-based titanium sponge plant closed in 2020. Now our country’s defense needs are completely reliant on foreign titanium sponge.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Provision

Click here to download a PDF about the TAA provision you can share with members of your local.

Two programs meant to assist workers who have lost their jobs due to negative trade, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) are set to permanently expire this year.

TAA and HCTC are the most robust job training programs in the country. Without renewal, Americans who lose work to foreign competition, imports, and bad trade agreements cannot access these needed training benefits.

There are currently two bills that are designed to help the United States better compete against China and Russia, but only one, the America COMPETES Act, contains a robust reauthorization of both TAA and HCTC.

As Congress looks to combine these bills, we must ensure TAA and HCHC make it into the final bill alongside pro-worker manufacturing investments and updated trade enforcement rules.

The USW urges Congress to renew the TAA program and the HCTC program with the following reforms contained in the America COMPETES Act:

  • Long-term renewal for all countries and all workers impacted by trade – U.S. workers should get job training if corporations ship their jobs to China, Vietnam, France, or any coun-try, no matter their occupation.
  • Establish a child care allowance in TAA – Working parents who want to pursue further education and training in order to get higher paying jobs need help with child care. A recent study highlights that child care allows parents to participate in these opportunities.
  • Streamline the Department of Labor’s process for certifying worker applications – Layoffs are difficult for families – getting job training should not be. Apprenticeships would also qualify for training.
  • Improve benefits and funding for the HCTC – Improved benefits and a renewal of HCTC will ensure workers do not have to worry about how to make ends meet while they prepare for a new career.
  • Help workers facing layoffs – The last thing workers need is red tape or partisan bickering. A strong renewal of TAA and HCTC will make the U.S. workers more competitive. This starts with renewing TAA and the HCTC with the provisions contained in the America COMPETES Act.

Our members – and all U.S. workers and their employers – will benefit if we get the final bill right.