New Yorkers: Tell Gov. Kathy Hochul to Sign the Buy American Salt Act

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Sep 08 2022 |
Two large town highway department snow plow dump trucks clear a slippery. slushy road during a January winter blizzard snow storm in a suburban area near Rochester, New York. Getty Images

The New York legislature already passed this important bill, which would reinvest taxpayer money back into the state’s miners, companies, and communities.

You may remember the letter that United Steelworkers (USW) Local 763 members Shane Chiappone, Greg Tucker, and James Leach wrote to our supporters in New York urging them to ask Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the Buy American Salt Act.

The trio are all employees of American Rock Salt, the largest operating salt mine in the country, one which employs 280 people in well-paid jobs. The mine and others in the Empire State produce 7 million tons of salt every year, helping to keep the roads clear during winter weather.

But U.S. companies like American Rock Salt are under threat, as unfairly traded salt imports from countries like Chile and Egypt are being dumped into the U.S. market, undermining American workers and companies — and threatening the viability of our country to mine the salt we need in the winter.

In New York, municipalities are often required to go with the lower bidder, according to Joe Bucci Jr., who works as the environmental, health and safety manager for American Rock Salt, who argued in favor of the legislation in a recent piece in the Livingston County News.

The Buy American Salt Act aims to level the playing field, Bucci writes:

“Simply put, the legislation empowers the municipality by providing the option to choose rock salt mined in the United States, eliminating the requirement that municipalities must go with the lowest bid.

“To be clear, the legislation does not prohibit foreign suppliers from importing rock salt, or limit their ability to bid the market in any way. There is not a tariff on imported salt, or percentage preference for American mined rock salt. What the legislation does do however, is provide the municipality the right to choose salt that is mined in the United States of America.”

The commonsense, bipartisan legislation already has passed the state legislature, but Hochul has yet to sign it.

YOU CAN HELP: If you live in New York, ask Gov. Hochul to sign the Buy American Salt Act!

Unfortunately, Chiappone, Tucker, and Leach already know what happens when state taxpayer money goes to support foreign companies instead of local workers, as they shared with our New York supporters:

“Back in 2017, American Rock Salt lost a contract with Erie County for a year’s worth of salt to a company from Canada. Twelve of our coworkers lost their jobs.

“It’s infuriating, especially since we were ready to do the work at a competitive price!

“The Buy American Salt Act will level the playing field for America’s salt miners. It will give U.S. companies and workers the first shot at these government contracts, ensuring taxpayer dollars are reinvested back into our communities instead of being sent overseas.”

Bucci echoed the trio:

 “More and more, foreign rock salt companies have moved to undercut the domestically sourced market, importing product from sources having substandard or non-existent environmental, health, safety and workforce standards from places like Chile and Egypt. It is not a level playing field for American salt mining companies.

“Salt mining is a generational vocation for many people living in Western and Central New York, and has provided a prosperous living for hundreds of New York State miners, truck drivers, and railroad workers. It has been a major economic driver in the state for decades. This is now being threatened by foreign importers.”

This bill just makes sense. It has bipartisan support, and the backing of both business and labor. Hochul has long been a supporter of Buy American, and it’s time for her to sign this bill.