Steelworker Dan Hill visits D.C. to share how China's overcapacity is impacting his community.
It's safe to assume that steelworker Dan Hill would rather spend his days on Minnesota's Iron Range, where he works as a miner for United Taconite.
But Hill is one of about 2,000 workers who have been laid-off from the Iron Range due to an unprecedented surge in subsidized Chinese steel being dumped into the U.S. market. So instead of spending his days at the mine, he's come to D.C. to spread the word about what's happening on the Iron Range— and what will continue to happen if the steel surge isn't addressed.
"We're going to keep on bleeding," Hill says. "Right now, I think we're worse than we were in the '80s, as far as domestic steel being used in the U.S. compared to foreign steel. But, it's just going to keep on going down. You'll see another mine layoff. You'll see people who have roots in the Iron Range leaving."
Hill has been out of work since August. When White House chief of staff Denis McDonough visited with laid-off workers on the Iron Range last month, Hill gave him a couple of mining T-shirts, urging McDonough to tell President Obama about what's happening because of the steel imports.
It's generations of mining. My grandpa retired from that mine, a couple of great uncles retired from that mine, my dad helped do some work on that mine. Dan Hill
Since then, Hill has become an unofficial spokesman of sorts for his fellow miners. On Tuesday, he came to Washington to visit with policymakers and meet with reporters, and he'll even accompany Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to President Obama's State of the Union address.
"Illegal trade practices have thwarted our domestic industry and left many workers on the Range without a job to support their families," Klobuchar said in a statement. "Dan has worked hard to make sure the White House understands the dire situation steelworkers like him are facing."
Hill says that the entire community relies on the mine. Taxes generated by the mine go to fund the local school system, for example. "It's a major part of the Minnesota way of life," he said.
"It's generations of mining. My grandpa retired from that mine, a couple of great uncles retired from that mine, my dad helped do some work on that mine," he adds. "That's all before I was born. It means a lot. It's home."
Hill says he doesn't know what to expect from Obama's farewell State of the Union address. But he knows what he wants to hear.
"I just hope what [he talks] about is getting the middle class back up on their feet, and getting the manufacturing, and getting the steel industry, and everything else that's affected by this back up on their feet so we can enjoy an American life, and get back to normal life," Hill says.