PITTSBURGH, Feb. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement in advance of President Trump's 2019 State of the Union address:
"In the everyday lives of American workers, far more threatening than immigration is offshoring. American workers are looking to President Trump to assure them in his State of the Union address that he will keep the pledges he made on the campaign trail to replace the broken free trade regime that has cost the United States tens of thousands of factories. Workers want fair trade that preserves family-supporting American jobs.
"President Trump has embarked on several trade reform efforts, but the work to secure jobs and prosperity is far from complete. The administration has made far too little progress to suggest that the president's trade promises have been kept. A good example of the ongoing problems is GM. The corporation announced late last year that it would shift significant vehicle production to Mexico while bringing nearly $7 billion into the United States for half the tax rate, a bonus for offshorers that was slipped into the 2017 GOP tax law.
"The incentives for manufacturers like GM to offshore jobs must be eliminated, and the proposed new NAFTA deal does not go far enough in doing that. The environmental and worker protections it contains must be swiftly and strictly enforceable, otherwise the deal is all talk and no action.
"When Canada signed onto the proposed new NAFTA, it was with the understanding that the United States would terminate the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum charged to our northern neighbor. The Section 232 tariffs have preserved some U.S. mills, spurred new investment and brought back some lost jobs. That was the intent – to protect two U.S. industries vital to national security.
"They would have worked better, however, if they had been imposed with the precision of a scalpel, not inflicted with the blunt force of a sledgehammer. In addition, they would have been far more effective if China had not been granted massive exceptions.
"Canada is an essential security ally and manufacturing partner, with metal forged in both countries crossing the border repeatedly for finishing into products ranging from cans to car engines. Canada should never have been included in the Section 232 tariffs, and the administration must immediately honor its pledge to end charging the penalties on Canadian steel and aluminum.
"This is particularly important because the United States has granted to Canada only miniscule exclusions from the tariffs – only 2 percent of its steel exports and .2 percent of its aluminum exports. Meanwhile, the United States handed to China, the primary violator of international trade regulations, such gargantuan exceptions that the tariffs on Beijing are virtually useless now. Forty percent of China's steel exports to the United States are excluded from the tariffs and a whopping 86 percent of aluminum exports.
"China is America's – and the world's – biggest trade problem. These colossal exclusions awarded to China defeat the purpose of the tariffs.
"Workers across the United States are looking to the Trump administration to stand strong in current negotiations to resolve China's pervasive trade violations that have cost millions of American jobs. U.S. negotiators must find a way to stop China from stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to transfer technology.
"But, just as crucially, the administration must get China to end its predatory trade practices, including overproducing commodities such as aluminum and steel and flooding the world market with the excesses, causing prices to plummet and American and European mills to close.
"American workers are looking for action from the administration that promised trade transformation."
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.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)