Granite City Steel impacted; workers protest rallies draws thousands
Washington (PAI) – Saying foreign dumping of subsidized oil tubular pipe could cost jobs not just of steel workers but of other U.S. workers, too, Steel Workers President Leo Gerard urged federal officials to ratify proposed tariffs against the pipe imports from Korea and eight other nations.
Otherwise, he told the U.S. International Trade Commission on July 15, U.S. workers will be left out of the boom in demand for the pipe, used for everything from gas lines to fence posts. Indeed, they already are, he added.
Gerard discussed the imports at the commissioners' hearing on a Commerce Department recommendation to impose the tariffs on the subsidized imported pipe, officially called oil country tubular goods (OCTG).
The dumping was the subject of a major protest rally in downtown Granite City on May 16 and across the country where thousands of local steel workers and supporters met with government and industry representatives.
Commerce recommended the tariffs, drawing cheers from the steel workers and the Alliance for American Manufacturing, on July 11.
TIRE DUMPING TOO
The ITC hearing occurred the day before Commerce, acting on another USW case against subsidized exports, said it is opening its own probe into dumped Chinese car and truck tires. The trade commission held hearings on the tire case on July 22.
Both cases are examples of how foreign nations use subsidies to invade the U.S. market with dumped manufactured goods, often selling them below-cost and costing U.S. plants business and U.S. workers jobs.
The steel workers have led both labor and business in researching and filing anti-dumping cases, with more than 40 dumping complaints.
CHINESE HACK STEELWORKERS
As a matter of fact, USW is so active in filing anti-dumping cases that a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has indicted the Chinese People's Liberation Army for cybercrime: Hacking into USW's computers – and those of five steel firms – to extract confidential case memos.
South Korea, the largest source of dumped OCTG, produces all of its pipe for export, undercutting U.S. manufacturers, Gerard told the trade commission.
The commission is probing dumping that began in 2011, Commerce Department data says. Besides Korea, Commerce says India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the Ukraine, and Vietnam dump OCTG pipe.
A commission decision, which Democratic President Barack Obama could then accept or reject, is due in September.
“Between the first quarter of 2013 and first quarter of 2014 hours worked increased by 1.4 percent while consumption increased by 13.6 percent, Gerard testified. “Why? Because, despite massive investments in new capacity several years ago, the U.S. industry is losing market share to dumped imports,” Gerard told the commissioners.
JOB GROWTH HOPES DIMMED
“The USW is hoping to see job growth in OCTG and in steel mills making products that become OCTG. Before these new imports arrived, steel and OCTG for the domestic energy boom was probably the brightest thing I have seen in this industry during a career that has seen little but retrenchment and job losses.
“Don’t let unfairly traded imports rob us of this opportunity,” he concluded.
And it's not just OCTG steel workers who lose jobs due to the unfair trade, Gerard told the commissioners. Basic steel workers, who turn out the steel the other workers then convert into the pipes, also will lose work due to the subsidized imports.
“In 2009, when US Steel shut down their Lone Star OCTG plant” – before the recent boom in demand – “they also shut down Granite City Works because that’s where they make the steel Lone Star makes into OCTG. So we could lose thousands of steel jobs as well,” he explained.
OCTG dumping “caused serious harm to our domestic steel industry,” he said before. “Plants are being idled, workers are losing jobs and communities are suffering...It’s time for all of our leaders in Washington to stand with us and fight hard for fair – not just free – trade.”