USW letter regarding shutdown of U.S. government

Click here to download a printable version of this letter. 

USW International President Leo W. Gerard this week sent a letter to Washington, D.C., leaders about the shutdown of the United States government. Text of the letter is as follows:

President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

On behalf of the 850,000 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and in solidarity with the more than 800,000 workers impacted by this unnecessary shutdown in nine of fifteen federal departments, I urge you to reach an agreement that will allow critical agencies to conduct the necessary tasks to move our economy forward.

In addition to the significant economic impact this shutdown is having on workers and families across this country, our union is deeply concerned with the erosion of our trade enforcement regime with the idling of the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).

Oversight of the implementation of the steel and aluminum 232 relief measures, including the exclusion process, has effectively halted. Our union, a strong supporter of 232 relief to protect our economic and defense security, is concerned that inadequate staffing is undermining the relief. In order for tariff relief to work, our country needs effective oversight and DOC staff doing their job with pay.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duty trade cases have stalled because of the furlough of the ITC. USW members at Maxion in Ohio, a producer facing an onslaught of dumped and subsidized steel wheels from China, have seen their enforcement case get needlessly delayed.

Another trade enforcement case on Cast Iron Soil pipe from China also faces a delay next week if there is no resolution of the shutdown. Tyler Pipe a division of McWane in Tyler, Texas provides good family-sustaining jobs in a mostly rural part of East Texas. Our union. represents close to 300 workers at Tyler Pipe, and soil pipe is a critical product for the company. Continuing imports of unfairly traded products will only further jeopardize their jobs and the company’s viability.

Workers and their employers need their federal government to analyze and determine if dumped and subsidized goods are impacting their jobs and to take corrective action. Without the Enforcement and Compliance units working at the Department of Commerce and the ITC to determine the impact of imports on U.S. industries and direct actions against unfair trade practices, we allow unfair trade practices to continue and ravage domestic production and employment.

The ITC also is responsible for reviewing and submitting their report on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). The shutdown throws uncertainty on the timeliness of the report. While the union believes the ITC report is only one component of the evaluation process to ensure that the agreements is in the interest of working people, senseless delays only complicate the critical work needed to improve labor standards, stop outsourcing, and ensure our country does not make the same trade agreement mistakes again.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) furlough also delays project improvements in water systems. The Drinking Water and Clean water state revolving loan funds support thousands of jobs through the use of domestically-sourced iron and steel products in communities across the country that benefit from the program. These funds should be quickly deployed buying American pipe and employing workers throughout the supply chain of water infrastructure. Instead, EPA employees now worry about making rent, or filing unemployment benefits while workers who make the products that would be purchased with the funds these government employees oversee are facing pink slips and looking for other work.

Our union urges action to get the men and women working again at all impacted federal agencies. Government workers should not be pawns in a policy debate far removed from the day-to-day of their jobs, nor should Americans who rely on them pay the price for this political fight. End this senseless shutdown.

Sincerely,

Leo W. Gerard

International President

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