Munhall rally shows united front against foreign dumping
Labor, management and government officials came together on Monday in Munhall with a common message for South Korea and other countries where pipe is produced for the petroleum industry.
“Got to do something,” Alliance for American Manufacturing president Scott Paul said.
“Stop that dumping,” replied a gathering estimated by organizers at 400-500 at a “Save Our Steel Jobs” rally at U.S. Steel's Research & Technology Center.
“This is about our jobs,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, told the gathering. “This is about our families and this is about our future.”
At issue is a rising volume of pipe or “oil country tubular goods” from South Korea and other nations. Imports of pipe rose from 840,313 tons in 2010 to 1.76 million tons in 2013.
South Korea alone shipped 894,300 tons to the United States in 2013.
“Our markets for those products are under unfair attack,” U.S. Steel president Mario Longhi said.
“The Koreans aren't using one inch of the pipe in their own country,” United Steelworkers vice president Tom Conway said. “We rely on our government to enforce those trade agreements.”
On Feb. 18, the U.S. Department of Commerce chose not to levy anti-dumping duties on South Korean producers, saying their prices weren't below what steel was being sold for in the American market.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department found that dumping was taking place from India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.
A final decision will be made regarding those countries by July 10. In a fact sheet, the Alliance for American Manufacturing said, “It is critical that our government fully investigates South Korea's cheating.”
A commercial attache with the Embassy of the Republic of (South) Korea in Washington could not be reached for comment at presstime.
The rally coincided with news of a federal grand jury indictment of five Chinese military officials accused of hacking into private-sector U.S. companies to gain trade secrets.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton in Pittsburgh is prosecuting the case, in which Chinese hackers allegedly victimized U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Westinghouse Electric and Allegheny Technologies, as well as the United Steelworkers union, all of which have Pittsburgh ties.
“You picked the wrong city to declare war on,” U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, said China already had unfair advantages because of steel dumping, currency manipulation, low wages paid its workers and a lack of environmental standards.
In February, a week before its preliminary ruling about South Korea, the Commerce Department said it would maintain anti-dumping duties on oil and natural gas pipe products from China.
“Our nation's security is threatened if our economy is threatened,” Longhi said outside a center where much of his company's research is conducted.
A few miles down the road is U.S. Steel's McKeesport Tubular Operations, a remnant of the old National Tube Works located in what long was the home of spinoff Camp-Hill Corp.
On May 1, 2011, U.S. Steel's Tubular Products division assumed operation of the facility.
“McKeesport Tubular has begun to turn the corner,” said Mark Fronczek, president of United Steelworkers Local 5852 representing rank-and-file there. “McKeesport Tubular is once again producing world class pipe.”
Fronczek said that came after a contract dispute, employee layoffs and a change in upper management, as well as “multiple upgrades” to the old Camp-Hill facility.
Murphy recalled how U.S. troops shed blood more than 60 years ago to halt a Communist invasion of South Korea.
“Remember what we did for you and stop trying to take our jobs from us,” the Congressional Steel Caucus chairman said.
Murphy said the caucus is circulating a letter urging the Commerce Department to reverse its February decision and expected dozens of House lawmakers to sign it.
The rally was a show of bipartisan cooperation, with Democratic and Republican officials in the audience, including all five Mon-Yough area state senators and many regional state House members.
“They agree on one thing,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “We need fair trade deals that will benefit this country.”
The Alliance is an association of U.S. Steel and other steel producers, as well as the United Steelworkers. Two speakers illustrated how things have changed in labor-management relations.
“Look across the street,” Munhall Mayor Raymond Bodnar said, pointing at the Pump House. “This is where we took on the Pinkertons (during the 1892 Homestead steel strike). Let's go, steelworkers, and kick (butt).”
“We have our differences,” Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president Rick Bloomingdale said. “But when we stand together, no one can beat us.”
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.