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Hollowed Out Heartland: 900 American Workers at West Virginia Plant Laid Off After Feds Refuse Tarif


Hollowed Out Heartland: 900 American Workers at West Virginia Plant Laid Off After Feds Refuse Tariffs on China
John Binder 25 Feb 2024

After a federal agency refused to allow the Department of Commerce to impose tariffs on cheap imported tin from Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea, about 900 American workers are set to lose their jobs at a plant in Weirton, West Virginia.

On February 15, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. executives announced they will be idling the company’s tin production plant in Weirton in April, leaving about 900 Americans out of work in the small city of fewer than 20,000 residents.

The massive layoff comes after the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) — made up of four commissioners: Republican David Johanson, Democrat Rhonda Schmidtlein, Democrat Jason Kearns, and Democrat Amy Karpel — refused to allow the Commerce Department to impose tariffs on unfairly subsidized and cheap imported tin products from Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea.

“We worked very closely with our partners at the United Steelworkers (USW) on this solution to save Weirton, and together fought tirelessly for its survival,” Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement:

    In what was our final effort to maintain tinplate production here in America, we proved that we are forced to operate on an uneven playing field, and that the deck was stacked in favor of the importers. Despite the Department of Commerce finding evidence of dumping and subsidization from respondent countries, the ITC shockingly ruled against imposition of tariffs, keeping the uneven playing field in place and making it impossible for us to viably produce tinplate. We have been upfront and open with union leadership throughout this process and our partnership with the USW remains unbreakable.

    To the tin can makers and consumer groups who irrationally fought against American jobs and a domestic-based food supply chain, this outcome is due to your own greed. We disproved all the arguments leveled against the domestic industry and workers. Furthermore, Weirton recently concluded a successful run of Drawn & Ironed material that tested perfectly with zero defects. This test proves that Weirton and its workers are able to manufacture all the products the market demands. The ITC’s decision is a travesty for America, middle-class jobs, and our critical food supply chains. This bad outcome requires better and stronger trade laws. We will continue to work tirelessly with our Congressional champions who fought with us in this case to improve the trade laws so that the American industry and our workers are not left behind.


Let me guess.  West Virginia voted for Trump.


--- Quote from: Hoodat on February 25, 2024, 11:18:49 pm ---Let me guess.  West Virginia voted for Trump.

--- End quote ---
After 80 years of being screwed by the Democrats, yes, W.Va. finally turned red. The tide turned when Bill Clinton lied to the steelworkers about tariffs. He said he'd impose them; he didn't. They hold it against him to this day. Also, West Virginians are a pretty patriotic and conservative bunch, even those who traditionally voted Democrat. Today's Democrat party disgusts them.

Here's some relevant information on tariffs:
--- Quote ---Bush’s Brilliant Strategy on Steel Tariffs: He Wins by Losing
by Andrew Brod
Greensboro News & Record, November 30, 2003

When the Bush administration imposed a tariff on imported steel in March 2002, I was astounded. The move was so brash, so baldly protectionist. I thought it was short-sighted, but I’ve changed my mind. I now think that it was brilliant. And if I’m right, then there may be implications for our friends in the furniture industry who are pursuing their own strategy to restrict imports.

The most striking thing about President Bush’s steel tariff was the absence of any attempt to justify it on such grounds as protecting the environment or enforcing labor standards. The president wanted the 30% tariff placed on steel imports simply because he wanted it.

Steel imports were growing and the American steel industry was hurting. Observers noted at the time that the chief beneficiaries of the trade protection would be steel companies and workers in the swing states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In the 2000 election, Bush lost the former and won the latter, both narrowly, and the conventional wisdom was that he eked out the win in West Virginia because former President Bill Clinton refused twice to impose trade barriers to protect domestic steel.

Back in early 2002, I warned in this space that other countries would retaliate against our steel tariff by imposing tariffs on our exports. I noted that the steel tariff contradicted Republicans’ traditional support for free trade. I exclaimed that “protectionism is back!”

Even so, I figured that the steel tariff had no chance of passing muster with the World Trade Organization. And sure enough, three weeks ago a WTO appeals panel ruled that the tariff violates the trade rules to which the U.S. agreed when it helped establish the organization in 1995. Therefore the U.S. must remove the steel tariff. ...
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