PITTSBURGH, April 18, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The United Steelworkers (USW) today issued the following statement on President Trump's executive order to promote Buy American/Hire American:
"The United States has laws on the books that promote the utilization of domestic materials and equipment when federal tax dollars are expended for certain projects. Taxpayers want their tax dollars used to promote domestic employment and production. Unfortunately, contractors often try to avoid the law through loopholes to buy cheap and often substandard foreign products like many from China. The result has been fewer jobs and less production here in the United States.
"Loopholes, including contractors circumventing the law by segmenting projects, weaken our nation's manufacturing base and cost jobs. An issue of particular importance to the domestic steel sector involves foreign-owned companies whose business model is to engage in limited U.S. finishing of imported foreign steel slabs.
"They rely on high-priced lobbyists to change the law rather than using domestic steel in their products, while still claiming the final product as 'U.S. made.' In these instances, 90 percent of the content has been manufactured overseas, thereby severely limiting U.S. job creation and retention opportunities.
"The executive order's provision supporting the long-standing melted and poured standard will help strengthen our defense industrial base and support our domestic steel sector.
"Today's order applies only to public projects, not private activities. Taxpayers here and in other countries should have the ability to ensure that when their governments spend tax dollars, they support domestic production and employment.
"The executive order directs the Department of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to assess existing trade agreements to make sure that they are fair and reciprocal. Other countries can ensure that existing supply relationships with the United States are maintained based on truly reciprocal benefits.
"China has aggressively sought to supply increasing amounts of materials for American infrastructure projects. With an annual procurement market of over $1.5 trillion, the U.S. market cannot be open ground for dumped and subsidized products as countries like China seek to dominate global manufacturing.
"Our union and our members' employers continually fight to restore fair pricing and, as a result, we now have orders on many basic steel products.
"Unfortunately, China has now moved downstream to structural steel products, many of which are used in infrastructure projects. Imports of those products have almost doubled. The provisions in the executive order, if effectively implemented, will help to ensure that dumped and subsidized products will not steal the production from our companies and the jobs from our members.
"Using government support and subsidies, China has stolen contracts ranging from the Oakland Bay Bridge and Verrazano Narrows Bridge to subway car production in Chicago and Boston. We cannot allow China to do at the federal level what they have done at state levels to undermine our nation's economic interests.
"It's about time that Washington focused on the importance of where the products supported by our tax dollars are produced. The executive order, in conjunction with legislative authority, where needed, will do what the law originally intended."
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)