Workers Need a Level Playing Field

International President Leo W. Gerard and progressive talk show host Leslie Marshall last week discussed tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if fully enacted, will help create jobs and protect U.S. national security.

The tariffs are a result of the Commerce Department’s Section 232 investigation, which found that illegal foreign trade not only jeopardizes America’s domestic industries but also threatens its national defense.

“Aluminum goes into a lot of our military vehicles,” said Gerard. Because Chinese dumping has so drastically reduced American capacity over the past 15 years, in an emergency, “America wouldn’t be able to meet its own demand.”

These concerns motivated many union members’ participation in the recent special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Gerard said, causing them to back Democrat Conor Lamb.

“You look at an area that’s been hard hit with plant closures due to unfair trade,” Gerard said, “those people have to worry about whether they can hang onto their houses.

“The labor movement, in particular the Steelworkers, has been in this fight for 40 years. We’ve never asked for anything special. What we’ve asked for is simple: give us a level playing field.”

It’s important to elect candidates like Lamb who are willing to openly oppose unfair trade, Gerard said, because there are still too many politicians in both parties who shy away from backing working people over giant multinational corporations.

And while tariffs on steel and aluminum, if enacted properly, are a good start, there is still a lot of work to do in truly leveling the playing field for American workers.

“We’re talking about steel and aluminum, but we could do this on glass, on cement, on tires and rubber,” Gerard said. “We need to have a much more aggressive trade policy.”

To hear the full discussion, click below.

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