Resolutions passed nationwide encourage real action to address China’s unchecked steel overcapacity.
The Obama administration is expected to meet with Chinese officials this week to hold talks about China’s steel overcapacity problem. But while folks in Washington will keep up the talk, state lawmakers across the country have a message for them: It’s time for action.
State legislatures in Michigan, Indiana, Colorado and Alabama all have passed resolutions in support of American steelworkers and companies. While the details of each resolution vary by state, all aim to pressure Washington to do more to level the playing field with China.
It’s easy to understand why state lawmakers are raising their voice. More than 13,500 steelworkers across the country are currently laid-off because of the steel imports crisis. Meanwhile, China continues to reject international calls to reduce its steel capacity, instead opting to continue to keep its failing steel mills afloat through billions of dollars in cash assistance, subsidized electricity and other unfair benefits.
The Alabama Legislature approved the latest batch of resolutions last week, calling for the strong enforcement of U.S. trade laws to fight unfair trade practices that are damaging the American steel industry.
Alabama lawmakers urged both Obama and Alabama’s congressional delegation to “continue to fight for strong enforcement of our nation’s trade laws to level the playing field with China and other countries, and [take] whatever action necessary to protect the domestic steel industry from unfair competition.”
Nearly 10,000 Alabamans are directly employed by the steel industry, the resolutions noted. Unfortunately, many of those workers are now laid-off, including more than 1,000 people at U.S. Steel Fairfield Tubular Operations near Birmingham.
David Clark, who works in maintenance at the facility, told the U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Department in April that those layoffs have devastated the town of Fairfield. Local gas stations have ceased 24 hour operations, retailers like Walmart have closed up shop, and the city council is considering closing the police department and suspending city services.
But Clark told AAM’s Alabama supporters in an email on Tuesday that the resolution — and the support of more than 11,300 AAM action takers who have called for the implementation of a plan to address the crisis — represent a building groundswell of support to save steel jobs. Clark also urged Alabamans to join the legislature in demanding an action plan.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Colorado passed a resolution encouraging the purchase of goods and services from U.S.-based companies, which is an important strategy for supporting the industry. In Indiana, the legislature urged Members of Congress to fight for strong trade enforcement, along with asking the Commerce Department to maintain China’s non-market-economy status.
The Michigan Legislature was the first to act, passing a resolution in October 2015 calling upon President Obama and Congress to take action to halt the illegal dumping of foreign steel into the U.S. market. Other states are currently considering similar resolutions.