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Duckworth Underscores the Importance of American Manufacturing at Wheatland Tube in Back of the Yards

February 23, 2018

Urges Trump Administration to Crack Down on Unfair Trade Practices That Are Devastating America’s Steel Industry


[CHICAGO, IL] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) toured Zekelman Industries’ Wheatland Tube Company, a steel pipe and tubing manufacturer in Back of the Yards, and participated in a town hall with employees. Duckworth discussed the importance of American manufacturing and the results of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recently-completed investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which found that the importation of excessive foreign steel at discounted prices is weakening our national defense and our economy. A photo of the Senator touring the Wheatland Tube facility is available here.

“Illegal dumping of foreign steel has forced American manufacturers to lower production and shutter factories,” Duckworth said. “This Commerce report outlines why we must support companies like Zekelman Industries that are critical to the economy and our national security. The President’s failure to act swiftly on this continues to hurt American companies struggling each day to compete and stay afloat. By saying no to foreign steel – by leveling the playing field – the American steel industry can grow and create more good-paying jobs for people here in Back of the Yards and throughout Illinois.”

Duckworth has urged the Trump Administration to take swift action to crack down on unfair trade practices like the illegal dumping of foreign-made steel products, which is devastating America’s steel industry. Since 2000, 50 percent of America’s basic oxygen furnace steel-producing facilities have either closed or been idled – and employment in the U.S. steel industry has dropped by 35 percent since 1998. As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended the President reduce the amount of foreign steel that’s being imported, which Duckworth strongly supports, with exceptions for products that are not available in the United States. In August of 2017, Zekelman Industries joined 21 other American manufacturers to request the President move forward with the Section 232 investigation and provide effective relief to their industry.

“Steel has always been part of the American success story, but high import levels have put the industry’s future at risk,” said Barry Zekelman, CEO of Zekelman Industries. “There cannot be free trade if there is not fair trade. I applaud Senator Duckworth’s commitment to push for stronger trade policies so we can keep high-paying, quality jobs and support hard-working families across Illinois.”

In December, Duckworth and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to quickly complete its investigation, citing how foreign steel imports surged by 21 percent in the eight months since the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would study how illegal steel dumping is impacting our national security. The U.S. currently imports nearly four times as much steel as it exports. Duckworth and Durbin also encouraged the U.S. Department of Commerce in April of 2017 – several weeks before the Commerce Department launched its investigation – to crack down on the unfair trade practices that are threatening America’s steel industry and strengthen protections against the dumping of foreign-made steel in American markets. Duckworth also led a letter with 10 other Senators urging President Trump to protect American jobs by ensuring all new pipelines – if approved – are constructed and maintained with American-made products and equipment.

Illinois continues to be affected by the dumping of foreign-made steel into the United States. In 2015, the Granite City Works plant, a steel producer in Granite City, Illinois, was forced to partially idle production – leading to the layoff of roughly 2,300 employees, which has had a devastating impact on the local economy. Duckworth has visited Granite City to meet with some of the steelworkers who lost their jobs when the plant idled just after Christmas, 2015. Currently, Illinois’ steel industry supports 64,000 jobs, including over 9,400 jobs at steel mills, which could be at risk if the Trump Administration does not take action to curb illegal steel dumping.