President Trump Signs Order to Launch Aluminum Imports Investigation

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, AAM

Another “Section 232” investigation for the Trump administration. Will it lead to action?

First steel, now aluminum.

President Donald Trump officially signed an executive order on Thursday afternoon to initiate a Section 232(b) investigation into aluminum imports. Overseen by the Commerce Department, the investigation will determine whether foreign imports of aluminum threaten national security — and if so, Trump will have the power to act to restrict imports, including through tariffs. 

The Commerce Department has 270 days to conduct the investigation. Once it gives its recommendation to Trump, he will have 90 days to respond.

Learn More: What’s a Section 232 Investigation?

There’s little doubt that American aluminum makers are threatened because of China’s aluminum overcapacity. Chinese state-owned enterprises produce far more aluminum than China can use for its own needs. Instead of curbing production, China dumps its excess aluminum (which, we note, is heavily subsidized) into the U.S. market priced far below market cost.

It’s part of a strategy to capture market share and put American aluminum makers out of business. Over the past 15 years, China’s aluminum production quintupled, from 11 percent of the world’s production in 2002 to 53 percent in 2016; imports took 55 percent of the market in 2016.

Meanwhile, eight American smelters have closed or curbed production since 2015. Only two are fully operational today. There is only one remaining American smelter capable of producing the high-purity aluminum needed by the aerospace industry for F-35, F-18 and C-17 aircraft, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters during a Wednesday briefing.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul said that the investigation could be a step toward recovery for the blue-collar aluminum industry workers impacted by China’s unfair trade practices.

“If we’re to see real change, this investigation must be followed by appropriate trade enforcement,” he said. “For years, China has promised to cut its massive industrial overcapacity, all while increasing production… If China is unwilling to keep its promises, there should be clear and enforceable penalties to force actions.”

Trump's executive order earned bipartisan support, including from Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who noted in a statement that 15,000 American aluminum workers have lost their jobs in the last decade. But Brown also cautioned that the investigation must lead to action. 

"It's good that the Administration is using this tool, but what matters to Ohio workers and the aluminum supply chain is whether it leads to real relief and action against China's market-distorting policies," Brown said.

Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, said in a statement that Trump’s executive action “recognizes the value of U.S. aluminum industry.” United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, whose union represents thousands of aluminum industry workers, said any action stemming from the investigation should focus “on those countries that are actually breaking the rules.”

He named names. “China’s overcapacity is swamping world markets, driving down prices and making some operations unprofitable,” Gerard said, adding that the Trump administration should continue work on a World Trade Organization case against Chinese subsidies for aluminum.

While Section 232 investigations are rare, this is now the second time that Trump has opted to initiate one; he announced a Section 232 investigation into steel imports on April 20.

But as our Scott Paul noted last week, China’s industrial overcapacity and persistent unfair practices — coupled with the need to maintain a strong industrial supply chain for our national security needs — mean such action is appropriate.

“America’s steelmakers are vital to our national security, providing essentials ranging from the armor plate on our tanks and specialty metals in our high-tech aircraft, to the hulls of our battleships and everything in between,” Paul said. “China’s massively subsidized and grossly over-scaled steel industry is an existential threat to our own domestic makers.”

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Reposted from AAM.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work