U.S. Steel, one of the nation’s largest and oldest steel makers, has announced the restart an idled steel plant in Granite City, IL, because of President Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on steel and aluminum imports, this week. The company anticipates increased demand for steel in the wake of the Trump’s announcement.
The plant at Granite City Works in IL, was idled in December 2015 and January 2016 due to low demand and a glut of steel supply in the world, as well as, what the company calls “unfairly traded imports.” About 2,000 workers were laid off at the time. U.S. Steel estimates that about 500 employees will be called back to work.
“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” U.S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt said in a statement.
“The President’s strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security,” he added.
Lawmakers applauded the move. U.S. Congressman Mike Bost (R-IL), said, “This is a big victory for the hard-working steel families in Granite City and the entire metro-east economy. I was heartbroken by the plant’s idling. Not only did I hear you, I took your fight to the Halls of Congress to combat unfair and illegal trade practices that have hurt American steelworkers.”
“But we’re not done. We still have more work to do, because I have no doubt in my mind that the American steelworker is second to none when competing on equal footing,” Bost added.
Democratic Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth also praised the announcement.
“This is welcome news for Granite City and the hundreds of steelworkers who are going back to work after being laid off before Christmas two years ago,” Duckworth said. “We have a long way to go to keep manufacturing jobs in this country and reverse the trend of factories shuttering or reducing production of American steel. I will continue to support policies and legislation that strengthen our national security and protect American jobs to ensure hardworking Illinoisans are able to provide for their families.”
President Trump surprised many when he announced 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminum imports respectively on March 1. The decision drew criticism from foreign governments, corporations and lawmakers alike.
One hundred and seven Republican members of Congress signed a letter to the President this week asking him to reconsider his decision.
“We are writing to express deep concern about the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports,” the letter read. “Because tariffs are taxes that make U.S. businesses less competitive and U.S. consumers poorer, any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers.”
The President’s Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn also resigned this week. While officials stress no one reason served as the catalyst for his resignation, it’s believed the President’s decision on the tariffs, which Cohn fiercely opposed, played a role.
In the end however, the criticism was not enough to dissuade Trump. At a cabinet meeting prior to the signing of the order this week, the President restated his goal of putting America first when it came to trade and protecting American industry.
“We’re going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign,” he said, adding that steel and aluminum were the “backbone of our nation” and the “bedrock of our defense and industrial base.”