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News Friday, Mar 4 2016

On Dept. Of Labor 103rd Anniversary, Portman's Terrible Labor Record

Mar 04, 2016

On the 103rd anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Labor, American Bridge President Jessica Mackler released the following statement on Senator Rob Portman’s unacceptable record on labor:

“The Department of Labor has helped to build our middle class, level the playing field for millions of Americans, and been an unwavering defender of workers’ rights. However, the fight for working families is far from over, and Senator Rob Portman has shown us again and again he is not on the side of working Americans. He failed to protect the U.S. steel industry from Chinese imports while over 100,000 Ohio jobs were lost to Chinese trade, and voted against raising the minimum wage. Sen. Portman is beholden to corporate special interests like the Kochs — and make no mistake — he is no friend of Ohio’s working families.”


Over 100,000 Jobs Lost To China

Economic Policy Institute: Ohio Lost 106,400 Jobs Due To Trade With China Between 2001-2013. According to The Economic Policy Institute, “The3.2 million U.S. jobs lost or displaced by the goods trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2013 were distributed among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with the biggest net losses occurring in California (564,200 jobs), Texas (304,700), New York (179,200), Illinois (132,500), Pennsylvania (122,600), North Carolina (119,600), Florida (115,700), Ohio (106,400), Massachusetts (97,200), and  Georgia (93,700).” [Economic Policy Institute,12/11/14]

As Us Trade Representative, Declined To Protect Steel Industry From Chinese Dumping

2005: Portman Failed To Protect The U.S. Steel Industry From Chinese Imports

Steel Industry Representatives Petitioned The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office To Place Quotas On Cheap Chinese Steel Pipe Imports

Steel Industry Representatives Petitioned A Panel At The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office To Limit Cheap Chinese Pipe Imports That Were Flooding The U.S. Market. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Claiming that their industry is on the verge of collapse, manufacturers of steel tubing products, including four companies with Arkansas plants, asked a trade panel Tuesdayto limit the lower-priced Chinese imports that have flooded the U.S. market over the past two years. Steel manufacturers told a panel at the U.S. trade representative’s office that Chinese competitors, aided by government subsidies, lax environmental rules and an artificially low currency, have been able to sell finished steel tubing products, such as fence and sprinkler piping, for less than what U.S. companies pay for raw materials.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 11/30/05]

The Steel Industry Representatives Filed Their Petition Under Section 421 Of The Trade Act Of 1974, Which Mandates The U.S. Trade Representative Hear The Case Before The Administration Makes A Decision. According to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “The petitioners made their case under the China Safeguard, which allows World Trade Organization members to address disruptive imports from China. In the U.S., such grievances are filed under section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974. Section 421 cases are first brought before the International Trade Commission and the U.S. trade representative before the administration makes a decision.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 11/30/05]

Portman Advised President Bush Not To Place Quotas On Chinese Steel Imports, Causing The Domestic Industry To Lose Jobs And Profits; Bush Took Portman’s Advice
Politico: “Portman Urged The President Not To Impose Restrictions On Cheap Chinese Steel Imports, Causing A Drop In Sales And Job Losses For The U.S. Steel Industry.” According to Politico, “But there’s one particularly potent line of attack top Democratic strategists are itching to launch. As Bush’s top trade negotiator in 2005, Portman urged the president not to impose restrictions on cheap Chinese steel imports, causing a drop in sales and job losses for the U.S. steel industry. And that could resonate with voters at a time they’re worried about the economic threat from China and American jobs being shipped overseas.” [Politico, 7/24/12]

Bush Took Portman’s Advice. According to the San Jose Mercury News, “President Bush on Friday rejected a request to place quotas on steel pipe imported from China, saying the cost to American consumers would outweigh the benefit to domestic producers. U.S. pipe makers and a labor group, which strongly condemned the president’s decision, asked the Bush administration to impose the quotas on certain kinds of steel pipe used primarily in construction. They argued that a surge in imports from China was disrupting markets.” [San Jose Mercury News, 12/31/05]

Decision Not To Place Quotas On Chinese Steel Pipe Imports Led To A Loss Of $150 Million In American Steel Profits From 2005 To 2007. According to The Plain Dealer, “In 2005, Bush – with Portman as his trade adviser – refused to impose quotas when Chinese imports of steel pipe were flooding this country. The U.S. International Trade Commission, a quasi-judicial body, had recommended the quotas. Bush said it wasn’t in this country’s economic interests to penalize the Chinese. Users of steel pipe, among others, had wanted the steady supply to continue. The case involved steel pipe used for plumbing and fence posts, as opposed to the steel pipe that V&M makes for the oil and energy industry. ‘Decisions on whether to take action against another country involve a wide range of considerations, including the impact on end users of raw materials manufactured in the U.S. or other countries,’ said Portman spokeswoman Jessica Towhey. China then kept shipping its circular welded pipe, sometimes with subsidies from the Chinese government, and American steel makers laid off workers in plants around northern Ohio. The American steel industry lost a reported $150 million in profits from 2005 to 2007.” [Plain Dealer, 5/24/10]

The Decision Went Against The Recommendations Of The International Trade Commission
Portman Supported Bush’s Refusal To Impose Quotas On Chinese Steel Pipes, Despite Warnings From The International Trade Commission That Chinese Imports Were Flooding The Market. According to Politico, “At Bejing’s urging, Bush – with backing from then-U.S. Trade Representative Portman – refused to impose quotas on Chinese steel pipes, arguing that it wasn’t in the ‘national economic interest.’ That overruled the U.S. International Trade Commission, which months earlier had recommended to Bush and Portman that quotas be put in place for three years, warning that Chinese steel was flooding the market at such a rate it could disrupt U.S. producers.” [Politico, 7/24/12]

Chinese Steel Imports Increased While American Plants Closed
The Alliance For American Manufacturing, A Pro-Steelworkers Group, Claimed Chinese Steel Pipe Imports Increased From 27,000 Tons In 2005 To 277,000 Tons In 2008.According to Politico, “But the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which advocates for steelmakers, said Chinese steel pipe imports to the U.S. jumped from 27,000 tons in 2005 to 277,000 tons in 2008, a 10-fold increase.” [Politico, 7/24/12]

Bill Kerins, A Steel Industry Executive, Claimed The Decision Not To Impose Quotas Led To The Closure Of Two Of His Steel Plants.  According to, “Profits for U.S. steelmakers fell dramatically during that time, and factories shut down. The 2005 decision contributed to the closure of two John Maneely Co. steel plants in Sharon, Penn., and Little Rock, Ark., executive Bill Kerins testified before the ITC in 2008.” [, 7/24/12]

Portman Claimed Dumping Actually Benefited Manufacturers

Portman Argued That Chinese Steel Dumping Benefitted Ohio Manufacturers. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Fisher’s campaign has focused much of its argument against Portman on his time as President Bush’s trade representative, and the controversial decision by the Bush administration in 2006 to lift quotas on Chinese steel being dumped into U.S. markets. That, the Fisher campaign argues, crippled the U.S. steel industry and cost 400 steelworkers in Lorain their jobs. […] The Portman campaign, though, counters that the so-called ‘dumping’ of Chinese steel into the U.S. market actually helped Ohio manufacturers who need steel to produce their projects. Portman campaign spokeswoman Jessica Towhey produced a March 2006 letter to then-trade representative Portman from the Steel Fastener working group, praising the policy of letting more Chinese steel into the country.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/7/10]

Published: Mar 4, 2016

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