WASHINGTON, March 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas M. Conway joined top executives from U.S. steelmakers on Thursday in testifying before the Congressional Steel Caucus to seek continued support from lawmakers for the American steel industry and its workers.
The first step is to ensure that American workers are competing on a fair playing field with overseas competitors, Conway said. While the Section 232 tariffs that took effect in March 2018 aided the industry in the short term, more consistent support for fair trade from Washington is necessary to ensure the industry remains on a long-term, sustainable course, Conway said.
"We need to work with our allies to secure multi-lateral disciplines to reduce steel overcapacity and sanction bad actors," he said. "Steel remains vital to our economy and our national security."
Besides fair trade, another key to maintaining a vibrant domestic steel industry, Conway said, is ensuring consistent, strong demand for its products. Congress can spur that demand by making much-needed investments in the nation's infrastructure and transportation systems and ensuring that such projects come with Buy America provisions.
"It is unfortunate that for all the rhetoric about the need to improve domestic infrastructure there has been a continued stumbling off the blocks by Congress and the administration," he said.
The $760 billion Moving Forward Framework unveiled last month by House Democrats could create 10 million jobs, help mitigate climate change and ensure that American manufacturers have a reliable network for use in shipping their products around the world.
"If we are going to share our energy resources with the world, our workers need to share in the benefits by providing the materials needed for transport of these vital commodities," Conway said.
Conway also cautioned lawmakers on the increase in automation in the industry, which he said allows companies to produce more steel with fewer workers, putting jobs at risk.
"These workers cannot be cast aside like equipment," Conway told the Congressional panel. "Lawmakers must work with labor to ensure a strong and vital manufacturing workforce for our current and future economies."
Joining Conway in testifying Thursday were industry executives John Brett of ArcelorMittal USA, Rich Fruehauf of U.S. Steel, Lourenco Goncalves of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., Leon Topalian of Nucor, Jim Charmley of Bull Moose Tube, Barbara R. Smith of Commercial Metals Co., and David Zalesne of Owen Steel Co.
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.