PITTSBURGH, April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Prior to a Congressional Steel Caucus hearing on the crisis facing the U.S. steel industry and its workers, United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement along with the attached text of his testimony and a background paper on China's overcapacity:
"The steel sector is facing a crisis, and the problems are too familiar. More than 13,500 steelworkers across the country are now holding layoff notices and without quick, comprehensive action, more jobs and production capacity will be lost.
"No one action will solve this crisis. We need a comprehensive strategy that addresses the flood of foreign steel into our market, while also forcing China to eliminate its massive production overcapacity. In addition, we need to confront the producers from the other countries who are also unfairly preying on the U.S. market.
"Right now, the only actions being taken are those that industry and workers have jointly executed through a series of antidumping and countervailing trade cases. These actions are important, but other steps are necessary. Americans deserve to have their government fighting for them, rather than leaving it to the private sector to demand fair trade and enforce trade laws.
"Our national and economic security is at risk. Our government should spend as much time enforcing laws and fighting for American jobs as they do negotiating agreements that increase our trade deficit and offshore more jobs, while outsourcing additional production.
"The USW strongly supports two initiatives, one by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the other by Senator Sherrod Brown. The DeLauro measure would require congressional authorization before an administration considers China to be a market economy. Calling China a market economy would drastically undermine the effectiveness of our trade laws and undermine the potential benefits of trade cases.
"The second action is an effort by Senator Sherrod Brown to engage the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reign in China's overcapacity, which is the root cause of many of our problems. Right now, China has the capacity to produce 1.2 billion metric tons of steel – almost 500 million more tons than it needs. Its excess capacity is depressing world prices, driving competitors out of business and causing massive layoffs. Mere discussion of this problem by the rest of the world has not resulted in a solution. The WTO must make clear that market principles require that China not only cut back, but actually dismantle significant production.
"These are two important steps in a multifaceted strategy. The time for talking has passed. The time for action is now."
To see the briefing paper attached to President Gerard's testimony that identifies Chinese promises and its failure to abide by them, click here.
To see President Gerard's full testimony, click here.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.
CONTACT: Holly Hart (202) 778-4384
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SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)