President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech will take place on Tuesday and steelworkers want answers, United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard said.
“Workers are hoping that the President will focus his State of the Union address and Administration efforts in coming days on keeping the promises made during the election,” Gerard in a statement. “More than a year later, workers are still waiting for comprehensive action on trade and infrastructure and the corresponding job benefits, including higher wages,” he added.
Almost a year ago, Trump delivered a speech before a joint session of Congress. Coming soon after his inauguration, however, it was not formally a State of the Union address.
In that speech a year ago, Trump gave shout-outs to steel and coal, each industry mentioned once, but oil and natural gas got short shrift — with nary a mention.
Policy issues that resonated especially with steel producers — but to a lesser extent with steel consumers — were addressed by the president. Infrastructure was mentioned six times last year, trade was mentioned four times, jobs nine times.
A year later, the USW maintains the Trump Administration has yet to deliver.
“On trade, it is time to get China and other countries that do not play by the rules to stop stealing American jobs in steel, aluminum and other industries,” Gerard said. “A renegotiated NAFTA agreement championing workers’ rights and stopping the outsourcing of jobs must be a top priority,” he urged, adding, “It is time to put workers’ interests at the top of the nation’s agenda.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in steel, other metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and more.
Also urging action on Friday — via a series of tweets — was the American Iron and Steel Institute, which is comprised of 20 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steel producers.
“In order to protect the national security interests of the US, we urge you to take action now,” AISI implored Trump on Twitter, in reference to the Section 232 report from the Commerce Department, which was delivered to the President about two weeks ago.
Trump has until mid-April to decide whether to introduce tariffs, duties or other measures on steel imports, on grounds of national security.
The Administration is also reviewing recommendations in another Section 232 report on aluminum imports, also submitted recently.