USW to Trump: Exempt Canada from Tariffs

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The Steelworkers have a sharp message for GOP President Donald Trump: Keep Canada out of your worldwide “national security” tariffs on steel and aluminum. But Trump isn’t listening.

Instead, after a month-long grace period when foreign nations could seek exemptions, from his edict, the Oval Office occupant extended his global 25 percent steel tariffs and 10 percent aluminum tariffs to Canada, Mexico and the European Union nations.

The Canadians, who are the biggest U.S. trading partners, were upset. So was Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump’s ruling “a turning point in the U.S.-Canada relationship” and said his nation would retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum, toilet paper, playing cards and other products. Added French President Emmanuel Macron: “You can’t solve trade imbalances through outdated policies of economic nationalism.”

The USW represents steel and aluminum workers in Canada as well as the U.S., and millions of tons of those two products cross the border, especially in Michigan, to be used for U.S.-made cars and trucks.

Trump justified the tariffs on national security grounds. USW Legislative Director Holly Hart said imposing that reason on Canada is “unacceptable.” USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann previously said evidence presented to Trump makes it “clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem the U.S. administration is trying to address through its Section 232 (national security and trade) investigation.”

“Our history shows there is no stronger ally and partner on national security than Canada,” Hart said. Trump “ignores that Canada’s steel and aluminum exports to the United States are fairly traded and that Canada has shown its willingness to strengthen its laws as well as its cooperation with the United States to fight unfair trade.”

While the USW has worked with Trump’s trade officials “to develop, design and deploy trade policies that will strengthen our manufacturing base, increase employment and enhance our national security…it has become increasingly difficult to understand the reasoning behind certain decisions and policies,” Hart explained.

She also warned the tariffs could boomerang, because the new sanctions against Canada and Europe don’t affect the real overproducer: China. The administration’s prior actions led Europe and Canada to join the U.S. in pressuring China to cut its flood of dumped steel. Canadian cooperation “is at risk now,” Hart said.

“The regular chaos surrounding our flawed trade policies is undermining the ability to project a reasoned course and ensure we can improve domestic production and employment,” she said.

So far, Hart added, Trump’s “trade policies have led to confusion, higher trade deficits and no real success in changing the practices of our trading partners. Ultimately, the goal is not a tariff barrier, but a stronger America… Today’s decision is wrongheaded.” 

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Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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