AAM is Traveling to America’s Steel Towns to See the Real-Life Impacts of the Section 232 Tariffs

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

It’s been just over a year since the Trump administration instituted “Section 232” trade action to address surging steel imports. President Trump’s decision to institute steel tariffs has proven to be one of the more controversial decisions of his time in office — which is rather interesting, considering this is a president who seems to thrive on controversy — but nonetheless people seem to have a lot of very important thoughts about it.

But what is often missing from the typical Acela Corridor rhetoric is actual on-the-ground information about what is happening in the steel communities who saw the direct effects of the trade action. With that in mind, we decided to visit some of these places and find out what is happening for ourselves.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul recently traveled to Coatesville, Pa., and Granite City, Ill., two steel towns that were devastated by the steel imports crisis.

Coatesville is home to the oldest continuously operating steel mill in the country — and is a key supplier of the special steel used by the military and to build critical infrastructure — but it came close to shutting down until the steel tariffs helped stabilize the industry. The steel mill in Granite City did shut down in 2015, but the trade action led to the restart of the mill’s two blast furnaces in 2018.

We’re sharing some of the findings from the two trips in a new special section on our website. You can also take a deeper dive on The Manufacturing Report podcast, which is available on iTunes and over on Soundcloud — here’s the episode on Coatesville, and here is Scott’s report from Granite City.

The podcast and special report on the website provide an in-depth look at what is happening in Coatesville and Granite City, and are really worth your time.

We will note that not everyone we spoke with is a supporter of Donald Trump, and not everyone is even involved in the steel industry. But what is clear from our visits so far is that these steel mills not only play a vital role in securing our nation, but also in ensuring the communities where they are located can survive. Times were tough in Coatesville and Granite City before the Section 232 action; things are better now.

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Reposted from the AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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