Steelworkers Back Obama & Criticize Romney on ‘Playing By the Rules’ in Trade Deals

USW Statement on Obama’s 2013 Trade Enforcement Budget

Pittsburgh (Feb. 12) – Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers (USW) issued the following statement today on hearing reports of President Obama’s budget proposal that’s going to Congress, asking millions for a new trade enforcement center and the resources to more effectively enforce U.S. trade laws:

“President Obama has acted to enforce America’s laws against unfair trade since coming to office and announced in his State of the Union address last month, a clear commitment to this effort.  The USW is especially pleased to know the President’s budget will be asking for millions of dollars to arm his new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) with the resources needed to fight for American jobs.

“Too many American workers have had their jobs stolen from them by foreign unfair, predatory and illegal trade practices.  Many of our trade competitors agree to the rules, but then fail to abide by them. Enforcing our laws – and the commitments other countries have made – must be high priority. President Obama is devoting resources to accomplish that goal.

“Our union members work hard and play by the rules. We want a government that will stand up to foreign unfair trade for all American workers.  President Obama has demonstrated a willingness to do just that.

“In his State of the Union message, the President highlighted the success of the trade case brought by the Steelworkers against a flood of tire imports from China that had been decimating employment here.  His leadership has helped to return the industry to stability, put American tire builders back to work and has stimulated the expansion of production and investment here at home.  His efforts deserve, and have, our sincere gratitude.

“The President also highlighted that that we can’t lose sight of the importance of our nation’s manufacturing sector. It is a key to long-term economic growth and job creation.  Enforcing our trade laws is the key to manufacturing success.

“This President’s budget makes an important investment in trade law.  The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, would jeopardize our successes and reverse course on enforcing the rules. Romney opposed the use of trade laws to support our nation’s tire producers, who employ thousands of workers and make great products.  The provision Romney opposed that President Obama used was one agreed to by China when they joined the World Trade Organization. The President’s actions were later upheld by the WTO.

Mitt Romney also publicly opposed the stabilization plan for the auto industry that has returned them to profitability and resulted in workers returning to the factories.  Romney said the companies should go bankrupt.  Two weeks ago, the Steelworkers, with elected leaders and the support of others in organized labor, began an effort to ensure that China’s unfair and illegal trade practices in the auto parts sector would not go unchallenged.

Romney’s refusal to support America’s auto sector would leave the more than 1.6 million workers directly and indirectly employed in the auto parts sector fighting China’s predatory trade practices on their own. Romney’s record on trade issues would further embolden Chinese leaders and put at risk more jobs here at home.”

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