Stalled Administration Action on Steel Imports Upsets USW, Congresswoman

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

Continued Trump administration stalling on whether huge amounts of steel imports are a national security threat – stalling symbolized by a secret report the Commerce Department sent to the president – upset both Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and steel-area Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

After all the time spent studying the issue and all the evidence the union, Kaptur and other witnesses presented about worldwide steel production overcapacity, particularly from

China, the conclusion should be obvious, the two said.

In short, they stated, the dumping of steel, at below-cost prices, on the U.S. drives U.S. steel plants out of business – including plants producing steel for vital defense goods from water pipes on bases to armor plating on tanks – and workers out of jobs. That threatens national security, Gerard added.

And if the threat is proven, Trump has unilateral power, unfettered by international trade rules, to limit, stop or put high tariffs on the imports.

Just since the Commerce Department probe has started, three more U.S. steel plants have announced layoffs, throwing hundreds of employees out of work, due to competition from subsidized imports, added Robert Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross presented the report to GOP President Donald Trump on Jan. 16, six months after he promised Kaptur he would send it to the White House. He didn’t say what was in it or what it recommended, and an e-mail to the department seeking the report’s text produced only a link to its 1-paragraph press release. The website had zip.

Trump now has 90 days to decide what to do. That upset Gerard and Kaptur. Both testified at the agency’s public hearing last June on steel import dumping and its threat to national security.

 

“We’re dismayed the report took so long to produce and that we still have to wait for a decision. It is obvious our nation’s steel sector has been under attack by unfair foreign trade and the sector is vital to our national security,” said Gerard.

“The current surge in imports – more than 20 percent – is the result of countries taking advantage of our market before the president acts.”

Gerard said Trump “has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset the trade agenda and preserve and protect” U.S. jobs. In his testimony last year, Gerard noted the last tariffs on subsidized imported steel came after USW demonstrations and evidence produced during the GOP George W. Bush administration. The tariffs were high in the 2004 presidential election year, then declined and phased out after two more years.

“We’ve got to champion the interests of American workers, and all our citizens, by protecting industries vital to our national security,” Gerard continued. As the administration stalls, U.S. workers and plants suffer, he said, citing recent steel factory closings in Conshohocken, Pa., and Ashland, Ky., “and idling, reduced operations and job losses at plants” nationwide.

And this is not the first stall, the USW president said. After Ross missed his deadline to Kaptur, he promised to send the report to Trump after the GOP-run Congress handled health care. When his agency failed, he set a new deadline, of after the tax cut.

“Now they” – steelworkers and their families – “wonder how much longer they have to wait to see if campaign promises will be kept...The time for talk and debate has passed and the president should act boldly.”

Kaptur was similarly caustic. She demanded Trump and Ross tell Congress now what they plan to do about the imports. “One thing has not changed since the investigation began is that steelworkers and communities like Lorain, Ohio, who have been battered by job losses, need relief now,” she said. She wants the two to brief lawmakers and “provide an expedited plan of action to ensure that the U.S. takes an appropriate response to the well-documented manipulation of the global steel market by countries like China and Russia.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work