Tom Conway, International Vice President
United Steelworkers (USW)
U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Final HearingCircular Welded Pipe from India, Oman, UAE, and Vietnam
Washington, D.C. -- October 17, 2012
Good morning, Chairman Williamson and members of the Commission. My name is Tom Conway and I am the International Vice President for the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, known as the USW. The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and represents workers across a large portion of the nation’s manufacturing sector, including the industry producing circular welded pipe.
As the Commission well knows, the USW has long been fighting against unfairly traded imports, as USW members have taken the brunt of the harm caused from unfair trading practices of foreign competitors in the form of lay-offs, shuttered plants and reduced hours and benefits.
This case and industry is very important to our members. The USW represents workers in most of the industry, including the three companies here today -- Allied, Wheatland, and U.S. Steel. As you have heard, there have been numerous plant closures in recent years, including JMC’s shutdown of mills in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, and Allied’s shut down of a facility in Arkansas. In just 2012, a union facility in Morrisville, Pennsylvania was shut down by Allied and a non-union facility was shut down by Welded Tube Company in Berkeley, South Carolina. As you can see from the employment data on the record, even though demand has been recovering since 2009, employment has fallen by nearly a hundred workers, and is more than 400 or 20% fewer workers than in 2008 because the domestic industry has been losing market share to these new and unfairly traded import sources.
Of course welded pipe is made from flat-rolled steel. USW members have not only lost jobs at pipe mills, but as these plants have gone under, USW members working at flat-rolled steel operations also see their facilities shut down. For example, the nearest steel mill to Allied’s Morrisville, Pennsylvania pipe plant was Sparrows Point, Maryland. However, that mill, which had employed hundreds of workers recently, has been shut down and is now in bankruptcy.
It is my understanding that a pipe mill which JMC permanently shut down in Sharon, Pennsylvania in 2006 had the capacity to make 300,000 tons of pipe annually; the mill which idled in Sharon in 2009 had the capacity to make nearly 125,000 tons of pipe annually. The former Wheeling-Pitt and WCI Steel plants -- now shut down -- used to supply hot-rolled sheet to pipe mills in the Ohio valley. Those steel mills may not be restarted either.
Unfortunately, the reality today is instead of U.S. pipe mills using sheet domestically made by USW members, we have foreign-produced pipe flooding into the U.S. market; some of which could be made with dumped and subsidized steel from China. This is a horribly vicious cycle which hurts our members making pipe and making steel. But rest assured our union – as always – will be working as hard as possible to get our workers a fair chance to compete and to retain their jobs.
The USW and our local USW officials are also always willing to work cooperatively with our companies to become more competitive. As Mr. Seeger noted earlier, the USW entered into a five-year labor contract with Wheatland Tube at the end of 2011. USW members have gained annual wage increases and have agreed to take on more of the costs of healthcare and pension benefits over the life of the contract. The union also agreed to changes in work rules to increase productivity, and in return -- for the first time at this plant – will participate in a “gain-sharing” agreement which gives hourly workers bonuses for increasing productivity in various parts of the mill. We believe this is a great incentive and provides workers with even more of a stake in the company’s success. And Wheatland agreed to continue reinvesting in its plants, which is so critical.
We also have some good news --earlier this month, meetings were held between local USW representatives and Wheatland executives to evaluate the feasibility of reopening the continuous weld mill at Sharon and to have USW members be recalled in the process. These USW members have been out of jobs for three and a half years. So, clearly, this is a very exciting development for them; it literally means a decent shot of regaining a good livelihood back into the middle class and dignity for themselves and their families. It also means over 100,000 tons of additional domestic steel consumption, which hopefully can begin to alter a vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle.
As the Commission has heard today -- and time and again -- our members have made tremendous sacrifices to stay competitive over the years, and I’m proud to represent today a truly talented and dedicated workforce producing circular welded pipe. I would note that this industry has sufficient capacity to supply the entire U.S. market. But what we cannot afford is unfairly traded imports from India, Oman, UAE, and Vietnam to supply the U.S. market. Rather, we need American workers using American-made steel to supply this market. On behalf of all of our workers, I ask that you make affirmative injury determinations in these cases.
For a copy of Tom Conway's Testimony, Click Here
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