contact Alan J. Dunstan
For Immediate Release
MADISON COUNTY DELEGATION CALLS
WASHINGTON CAPITOL HILL MEETINGS
ON STRESSED STEEL INDUSTRY ‘SUCCESSFUL’
U.S. Senator, Congressmen & Government Trade Representatives
EDWARDSVILLE, February 26, 2016 – Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan was today joined by Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer and United Steelworkers (USW) officials Dan Simmons, president of USW Local 1899, and Jason Chism, president of USW Local 50, for a detailed briefing of the meetings Tuesday in Washington, D.C. on the idling of U.S. Steel’s Granite City mill.
Dunstan said the Madison County delegation went to Washington, D.C. with two clear objectives. To address the plight of the 2,000 men and women at U.S. Steel’s Granite City facility who have been put out of work as a result of the idling of the mill, and to share, first-hand, the effect of unfair trade practices on local economies.
“I believe we successfully got our message across to our elected officials and the government representatives we met with,” Dunstan stated. “And we learned that members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, are continually working to improve legislation of anti-dumping and countervailing duty trade remedies, such as the American Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act, which President Obama signed into law on Wednesday (2/24).”
The Madison County delegation held meetings with U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (Ill) and U.S Congressmen John Shimkus (15th Dist. Ill), Rodney Davis (13th Dist. Ill), Mike Bost (12th Dist. Ill), Pete Visclosky (1st Dist. Ind), Jason Smith (8th Dist. Mo) and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (2nd Dist. Mo). Every one of the elected officials the delegation met with voted in favor of the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act.
"Because our meetings with the members of Congress and at the Department of Commerce ran longer than anticipated, we were unable to meet with Senator Richard Durbin. However, Senator Durbin is well informed of the situation related to the closing of the Granite City mill and is completely supportive of the strict enforcement of our country’s trade laws,” Dunstan said.
The issue of national security was raised by Simmons, president of the union which represents the largest group of workers at the Granite City mill. “Do we really want our country’s weapons, tanks, ships and airplanes made with inferior steel imported from China?” Simmons questioned. “Workers in the United States produce the world’s highest quality steel. All we’re asking for is the opportunity to do our job.”
Dunstan said the most impactful meetings took place with representatives of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Congress has given the Department of Commerce the necessary tools to enforce our trade laws and eliminate the dumping of foreign steel on United States’ markets. The issue is now the extended process of enforcement of those laws and funding.”
According to Chism, the meetings with Department of Commerce representatives gave the union officials a better perspective regarding the trade cases filed by the steel industry. “Based on the discussions which took place, I think Dan (Simmons) and I better appreciate the diligence and high standards demonstrated by the department in its investigations of unfair trade practices.”
“In turn, we wanted the Commerce department officials to understand the urgency of our laid-off steelworkers and the need to start our idled mill,” Chism continued. “The 2,000 men and women employed at Granite City Steel want to make steel again and be in position to take care of their families.”
“The men and women I talk to every day have a great deal of pride in where they work and the steel they produce. The only message they asked us to deliver was, ‘Tell our officials that all we want is a fair shake,’” Chism stated. “We delivered that message and I’m pleased to report I believe it resonated with our elected officials and with the officials at the Commerce department.”
Hagnauer said the Madison County delegation emphatically addressed the length of time it took to resolve trade laws. “It can take a full year for a trade case to be resolved and during that time millions of tons of inferior, imported steel, in many cases produced by government supported factories, is being imported into the United States. Importantly, we know the trade enforcement of illegal steel imports will make a difference.”
“But one year is unacceptable. While trade cases are slowly moving along, U.S. workers, our friends and neighbors, are losing their jobs. We carefully explained to Department of Commerce officials that we want them to address unfair trade practices with a sense of urgency,” stated the Granite City mayor.
“At one point during our meeting I said we don’t want the Commerce department to slap the hands of the companies and countries violating our trade laws, we want them to use a baseball bat,” Hagnauer added.
While the tools in the new trade law give the department the necessary authority to enforce trade laws, the department lacked the revenue for adequate enforcement. While the cases of unfair trade practices have increased, the department lacks the revenue and subsequent manpower to effectively complete the investigations necessary to take the cases to court.
“We understand just how important it is that the Department of Commerce receives the support, the revenue, they need to effectively address unfair trade practices. We were able to address the issue of funding with the six members of Congress,” Dunstan stated. “The congressmen pledged their support to help identify the funding necessary to effectively enforce our country’s trade laws,” Dunstan said.
Every member of the delegation said the effort of Madison County officials and USW leaders to support the workers at the Granite City mill and the nation’s steel industry does not end with the meetings in Washington, D.C.
“We will continue to press for the full utilization of the trade remedy legislation recently enacted by Congress and signed by the President, and will lobby for the denial of requests for extensions by foreign respondents in trade cases,” Hagnauer said.
Dunstan said the Madison County delegation and other supporters will follow through on identifying the necessary funding for the Department of Commerce and will insist that China be treated as a non-market economy in anti-dumping cases. “It’s time we gave the steel industry, as well as other manufacturers in the United States, a level playing field,” Dunstan said “It’s time our leaders finally do something to help our middle-class workers. Addressing the unfair trade practices which negatively impact our nation’s steel industry is a great place to start.”
In addition to Dunstan, Hagnauer, Simmons and Chism, the Madison County delegation included Madison County Administrator Joe Parente, Community & Economic Development Administrator Frank Miles and the legislative staff of the USW’s Washington office.
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(from left) Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer, Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan, United Steelworkers Local 50 President Jason Chism and United Steelworkers Local 1899 President Dan Simmons