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  • Commerce Department Levies Duties In Steel Dumping Case
    Updated On: Mar 28, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, March 17, 2016

    On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce made a preliminary decision to place anti-dumping duties on unfairly traded hot-rolled flat steel from seven countries. The trade case was filed by six U.S. steel companies last August against producers in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In dumping cases, countries violate international trade regulations by improperly subsidizing steel producers and then exporting products at below market prices in the U.S. market. The United Steelworkers, which has been challenging foreign steel dumping for years, issued a press release praising the department’s decision. Jason Chism, president of United Steelworkers Local 50, represents workers at U.S. Steel in Granite City, Illinois:

    [Jason Chism]: “We have Japan putting around 700 million tons of overcapacity into the market, which drives the prices of steel down. We just can’t compete with that. That’s why there’s been a lot of push on our Congressmen and the Commerce Department on upholding our trade laws, which…yesterday was a result of one of those trade cases in hot-roll, which directly affects our markets.”

    Dumping of subsidized imports at below market value has become a huge problem for U.S. industries ranging from steel to paper to tires. Chism’s own plant has been idled since December:

    [Jason Chism]: “We’ve been dealing with this for a number of years, but here just recently we’ve started feeling the impact going back to march of 15 with layoffs, and then found ourselves in a situation where we had a total plant idle by the end of December…which in return has affected a little over 500 jobs here for us at Local 50, but also almost 1700 jobs here in Granite City.”

    Chism applauded the Department of Commerce for its decision, and is hopeful for a final decision due in July:

    [Jason Chism]: “I stand hopeful that it’ll change the pricing in the steel market, so we can start getting back operating at a full capacity here in Granite City, but also in the other locations that’s been affected by the unfairly subsidized steel coming into the country. Just at U.S. Steel, you have Fairfield Alabama, which is totally idled…Lone Star Tubular that’s been faced down in Texas with layoffs and idles. Hopefully the Commerce Department as we move forward can find some more facts and hopefully get a final determination of a higher standard.”

    Illegal dumping of steel on the U.S. market can have effects far beyond the steel industry:

    [Jason Chism]: “Up north in Minnesota, the whole iron ore range has been laid off. I believe that’s a little over 2000 folks. I mean, the steel market in General has seen 12,000 layoffs since the beginning of 2015. Here in our area, Granite City, we have 2000 members that work here at U.S. Steel, and for every one steelworker job inside the mill, there’s seven resulting jobs outside the facility, because you have tool-and-die shops, restaurants, retail shops, iron workers, boilermakers, carpenters…coming in and out of the mill at any given time.”

    Chism believes Tuesday’s decision will help turn around the slump in the steel market and get everybody back to work:

    [Jason Chism]: “You put us on a level playing field, we can compete with anybody. Our members are skilled craftsmen. We can produce this stuff as good as anybody, and we just need an opportunity to do that.”

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