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Biden promises Pittsburgh workers tariffs on China will protect union jobs – Washington Examiner

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PITTSBURGH — President Joe Biden assured steel union members in Pennsylvania on Wednesday of his unwavering support, announcing increased tariffs and protections for domestic manufacturing in the lead-up to the swing state’s primary for the 2024 election season.

“The backbone of America has a steel spine,” Biden said. “We’re investing in American workers again.”

Biden stopped in Pittsburgh to speak to an invitation-only crowd at the United Steelworkers headquarters downtown, calling on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to triple existing tariffs on steel and aluminum from China.

“The Chinese government has poured state money into Chinese steel companies, pushing them to make so much steel as possible, subsidized by the Chinese government,” Biden said. “They’re not competing. They’re cheap. They’re cheap, and we’ve seen the damage here in America.”

Biden also said his administration would begin investigating Chinese anti-competitive practices in the shipbuilding industry.

“Taken together, these are strategic and targeted actions to protect American workers and ensure fair competition,” Biden said.

Speakers at the event highlighted the contrast between former President Donald Trump’s international trade policy, raising tariffs as competition intensified between the U.S. and China.

Biden said that Trump and MAGA Republicans in Congress want to increase tariffs on “all imports from all countries that could badly hurt American consumers.”

Trump has proposed potentially raising tariffs across the board by as much as 10%, which is estimated to shrink the economy by 1.1% and threaten more than 825,000 U.S. jobs if trade partners were to retaliate.

“Trump simply doesn’t get it,” Biden said.

Domestic union jobs

Democratic and union leaders from Western Pennsylvania who introduced the president stressed his union connections.

“We have the most pro-labor president of all time in the most pro-labor city in America,” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said. “We are a union town and never forget it.”

“He is the first president in modern history to stand on a picket line,” Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato said, referencing his participation in the autoworkers strike last September.

“President Biden is delivering for American workers,” USW International President David McCall said at the event. “Previous administrations have promised to deliver on infrastructure, but President Biden made it happen.”

“It’s not labor,” Biden said. “It’s unions.”

US steel industry shifting in the background

Biden’s stop at the USW comes amid the backdrop of the future acquisition of U.S. Steel by Japanese firm Nippon Steel.

The president briefly referenced the merger, saying he stands by the union against the merger.

“You’re still an iconic American company, for more than a century, and it should remain in America,” Biden said. “Union steelworkers are the best in the world, and that’s going to happen. I promise you can still work as long as they have fair competition.”

The USW union, which represents over 850,000 workers in the steel industry, has strongly opposed the measure because the foreign acquisition is likely to not only undermine union priorities but also threaten national security.

“Allowing one of our nation’s largest steel manufacturers to be purchased by a foreign-owned corporation leaves us vulnerable when it comes to meeting both our defense and critical infrastructure needs,” McCall said in a press release after the merger was announced in March.

Last week, the shareholders for U.S. Steel overwhelmingly granted their support for the acquisition, with 71% of shareholding voters supporting the move.

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“This transaction truly represents the best path forward for all of U.S. Steel’s stakeholders – union and non-union employees, customers, communities and stockholders – and for the United States and our home in Pennsylvania,” company President and CEO David B. Burritt said in a statement following the vote.

Burritt added in his statement that the merger will enable the company to keep “all of the obligations under the agreements in place with our unions.”

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