U.S. Affirms South Korea ‘Dumping’
July 22, 2014
On July 11, The U.S. Department of Commerce--answering complaints from the United Steelworkers and several steel companies--held that South Korean producers of steel tubing and others in seven countries were unfairly “dumping” their products below their fair market value in the U.S., undermining the job security of workers and their employers.
The Commerce Department announced the imported steel tubing--used primarily in the booming natural gas industry--will be subject to increased duties. The Commerce Department’s decision, coming on the heels of rallies by steelworkers and their supporters in several cities, is subject to approval by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
A favorable decision by the ITC will be a step forward in helping to secure not only the jobs of thousands of U.S. manufacturing workers, but those of building and construction workers, including IBEW members who help maintain and erect steel plants from Colorado to Pennsylvania.
“With the U.S. natural gas industry on the incline, it’s only right that the manufacture of tubes to bring the fuel to market should be primarily performed by U.S. workers, benefitting their surrounding communities,” says International President Edwin D. Hill.
Members of Pueblo, Colo., Local 12 have frequently worked on upgrades to the Evraz Steel plant there, formerly Colorado and Fuel and Iron, one of the U.S. producers of seamless tube that will benefit from a favorable trade decision.
“Our signatory contractors, In-Phase Electric and Main Electric, have done a lot of work at Evraz,” says Local 12 Business Manager Dean Grimstead. The local maintains a close relationship with USW Local 2102 whose members perform day-to-day electrical maintenance on the plant, he says. In 1997, when the USW struck at CF&I, several members ended up joining Local 12. “We are all in this together,” he says.
In 2010, the U.S. levied duties on tubing made in China. South Korea and other countries then filled the void, exporting $800 million of steel tubes into the U.S. in 2013.
More than 200 members of Congress, including a majority of the Senate and over one-third of the House, voiced objections to preliminary findings that South Korea was not breaking the law.
A crew from Beaver, Pa., Local 712 performs ongoing maintenance at Koppel Tubular, another affected company, says Local President John Kochanowski.
Cincinnati Local 212 has dispatched electricians to tube producer Newport Steel in nearby Newport, Ky., and Lorain, Ohio, Local 129 sent 60 electricians, including travelers, to U.S. Steel to work on that company’s seamless pipe plant, says Business Manager Jeffrey Bommer. “We had been out of the plant for a few years,” says Bommer, “but the last few years we’ve seen some hefty contracts.”
“In the past few months, steelworkers across the country rallied for a level playing field,” says Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers. “On July 11, their voices were heard. The Commerce department is to be commended for getting it right and reversing their preliminary decision that would have allowed South Korean steel producers to continue breaking trade rules with no consequences.”