International AFL-CIO Convention guests visit Granite City, learn how bad trade policies have affected Illinois steelworkers

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More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO Convention in St Louis crossed the river to Granite City last week to visit United Steelworkers Locals at the U.S. Steel plant who have been hard hit by bad trade deals and steel dumping. – AFL-CIO photo

Granite City, IL – More than 60 international labor guests attending the AFL-CIO convention in St Louis crossed the river to Granite City to visit with United Steelworkers Locals at the U.S. Steel plant who have suffered under the crushing impact of bad trade deals.

Granite City’s Labor Temple serves as the union hall for United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 1899, 50 and 68. The hall and the locals have an illustrious place in U.S. labor history and progressive politics. But these days, the community is feeling the impact of short-sighted trade policies that lead to fewer good jobs and local resources.

The week before Christmas in 2015, the U.S. Steel plant was idled and laid off more than 2,000 workers because of years of bad trade laws and weak enforcement that have allowed unfair competition to distort markets and prices of steel.

‘WE’RE NOT MAKING ANY STEEL HERE’

Even as the economy continues to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, demand for U.S.-made steel lags behind.

Even with heavy investment in state-of-the-art production, U.S. plants can’t compete with companies that have financial backing from governments like that of China.

There are now about 600 workers at the U.S. plant, but as one worker said to the visitors, “We’re not making any steel here. We’re finishing the steel made somewhere else.”

The international labor leaders told similar stories of job losses due to dumped steel in Jordan, Egypt, and the Ukraine.

FIGHTING AGAINST RULES THAT REWARD CORPORATE GREED

As USW President Leo Gerard made clear, “The fight is not worker against worker, it is workers united around the world to fight against rigged rules that reward corporate greed.”

While he was a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump claimed he would take action to defend U.S. production and workers from such unfair trade. But the administration has taken no action to enforce rules that would put the Granite City plant back online and workers back in the plant.

“We won’t stop pushing this government to fix the trade laws and take action to stop illegal dumping of foreign steel until this plant and many others like it are up and running again,” Gerard told the international visitors.

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