AAM Letter to Congress: Oppose Toomey-Gallagher Anti-Section 232 Legislation

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams

Congress must stand against a bill that threatens to weaken U.S. national security and endanger thousands of jobs fomented by the current Section 232 trade actions, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul wrote to Members of Congress on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, named the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019 and introduced by Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R- Wis.), would eliminate a crucial trade enforcement tool just as the domestic steel and aluminum industries find their footing following years of import dumping.

In the past several days alone, U.S. Steel announced the restart of operations at a previously idled steel mill in Lone Star, Texas, and construction at another mill in Fairfield, Ala., collectively adding 190 new jobs that will support not only workers and their families but also the communities surrounding the mills.  

Section 232 trade actions have been vital to this recent economic growth in Lone Star, Fairfield and other communities around the country. Indeed, U.S. steel attributed its Fairfield restart to President Donald Trump’s “strong trade action”, which has helped the company, along with other steel and aluminum manufacturers and the workers they employ, recover from years of punishing damage due to import dumping.

The last thing Congress should do is consider how to limit the trade tool that has enabled our nation to support these critical contributors to our economy and security.

In the letter, Paul writes:

"Rather than weakening available national security trade tools, Congress should reaffirm its support for a fair and level playing field and urge other countries in the strongest possible terms to confront their own, and China's, protectionism. The Toomey-Gallagher bill abandons Congress' commitment to trade enforcement, an essential part of the 'three-legged stool' of U.S. trade policy – alongside expansion and adjustment."

You can read Paul’s full letter here.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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