Dear DC: Please don't let state-backed competitors dump on American workers

Posted by mmcmullan on 05/15/2014

You’ve probably seen a Stoughton Trailer before. You just might not have noticed. Stoughton, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer with about 1,000 employees, makes the big, 53-foot-long container boxes that semi-trucks and trains port all over the country.

That’s a good market to be in, right? When you think about it, containers are a key part of commerce in this country. You can fill them with all sorts of stuff. They’re how we get goods to market across America.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and lollypops for Stoughton; it’s slowly been getting edged out of the market by competitors from China who, with the help of government subsidies, can undercut the American company by offering basement-level prices. In the world of international trade, that practice is called “dumping.” And Stoughton wants the federal government to do something about it. So do we. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month:   

Dumping involves selling goods abroad for less than the cost of production, or for less than the price in the country where they're made. The practice, usually made possible by government subsidies, is a tactic to try to gain dominance in an export market. …

Stoughton alleges in its petition that Chinese firms are selling containers in the United States for about half their fair value.

Half their fair value. That’s a good deal ... until you consider that it lays off American workers for the sake of a discount.

OCTG dumping is putting American jobs at risk

China isn’t the only country to attempt such a trade strategy. South Korea is pursuing one as well, dumping steel pipe and tube used in energy exploration (a booming business in America these days) into the U.S. market. These “oil country tubular goods” – OCTG, for short – are a hot commodity, especially as we ramp up construction of energy infrastructure across the country. But if our government lets dumpers like South Korea slide, not only will the 7,000 American OCTG workers be shut out of the lucrative pipe-and-tube market, they could be out of their jobs.

Join the fight for America's steel industry

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and the United Steelworkers are making sure that Washington knows it needs to get this trade dispute right. Last week, we joined OCTG steelworkers in Lorain, Ohio. Tomorrow, we’re joining others in Granite City, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis. And on Monday? We’ll be with even more in western Pennsylvania.

If you’re in the area, you can come out and join us. If not, you can join from home via our livestream, speak out on Twitter with the Save Our Steel Jobs hashtag – #SOSJobs – and take action by telling your representatives to make sure our trade laws are fully enforced.

It's a wild and woolly world of international trade out there. That's why we've got to stand up for our domestic industry. So join the AAM and the Steelworkers in person -- or online -- as we fight for American steel jobs.

Learn more about the threat facing America's OCTG workers.

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