Ross: Tax Cuts First, Then We’ll Get to Trade Issues Like Steel Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Friday morning that the long-delayed national investigations into steel and aluminum imports won’t be released until after Congress deals with tax reform.

Ross’s statement comes just two days after he met via phone with steelworkers who were in Washington to urge the administration to release the “Section 232” investigations as soon as possible. Tom Conway, the international vice president of the United Steelworkers, told Inside U.S. Trade after the meeting that Ross “wants to release [the report] as soon as he can.”

But it now appears steel and aluminum workers will have to wait until a massive tax overhaul works its way through Congress before they get any relief.

Ross said on CNBC that the Trump administration doesn’t “want to do things that will unnecessarily irritate the Senate” – i.e., Republicans whose votes are needed on taxes but who also tend to be opposed to action on imports. Along with delaying the Section 232 investigations, CNBC reports the administration is also “softening its stance” on key trade issues like NAFTA and a trade deal with South Korea.

Meanwhile, steelworkers from Alabama to Michigan to Indiana and beyond continue to cope with job losses and plant closures as imports surge into the country. Since the two “Section 232” imports investigations were launched in April, steel imports alone are up more than 21 percent.

"By public affirming a delay in the Section 232 review and relief, the administration may be laying out a welcome mat for a surge in steel imports," said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. "This is a mistake."

Paul noted that the rationale of the Trump administration's decision doesn't make much sense.

"A Republican Senator is going to oppose corporate tax relief because of a steel trade action? Unlikely," Paul said. "Good luck selling that to American factory workers."

Indeed. If the imports continue unchecked, more plants are likely to shut down – and more jobs will be lost. The ongoing crisis already has been devastating to working class communities across the country, like the mining community supported by Minnesota’s Iron Range.

“We’ve been through a pretty tough last couple of years. We’ve had a lot of plant shutdowns, layoffs,” said Cliff Tobey, who represents Iron Range workers as president of USW Local 2660. “Matter of fact, my plant, we just got up and running after about a 20-month shutdown. Very, very hard on our members and their families.”

The situation is similar at U.S. Steel Gary Works in Indiana, reports William “Billy” McCaul.

“The impact on the region, Northwest Indiana, is very deep. One steelworker probably is about seven other jobs in the community. I mean, that’s your barber, your doctor, your grocer,” he said. “And so one steelworker job impacts deep, the region, and then overall the state of Indiana, and then, too, the United States of America. It’s a chain.”

Terra Samuel, who works at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor near Chicago, also came to D.C. this week. She said that if the investigation is “not wrapped up soon, we may end up in a lot of trouble.”

“If nothing’s done… it’s just going to get worse,” Samuel said, noting that if dumped imports reach a certain level, it might not be possible for U.S. industry to cope. “I mean, when you’re looking at steel, you’re looking at cars, you’re looking at infrastructure, you’re looking at all kinds of impact, national security. So, it hurts us in so many ways. If we can get a handle on it now, it’ll be the best thing for us to do.”

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work