USW Dispels 'Buy America' Myths

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Steelworkers today called for an end to the myths and mistruths about “Buy America” and domestic sourcing that are clouding the debate and generating roadblocks to creating good jobs and renewing our economy.

“The country is in the midst of the fastest, most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. In 2008, the United States lost 2.6 million jobs – the largest loss in over 60 years and so far this year isn’t any better,” said Leo W. Gerard, USW International President. “This is a time for economic patriots. Our members and others are suffering. We can’t afford to let greedy multinational corporations and others get in the way of common sense solutions that will get people back to work.”

Gerard continued, “Let’s be clear: the Buy America provision in the economic recovery package does not break any existing U.S. trade obligations. It will not ignite a trade war. It will not raise the cost of infrastructure projects. What it does is what countries like France and China have already done – ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to buy goods produced in our country and create jobs at home.”

Thomas M. Conway, USW International Vice President, testified today before the House Steel Caucus along with a panel of steel company CEOs, saying: “Those opposed to this idea want to use our dollars meant to build roads, bridges and public works projects to buy government-subsidized steel and other goods made in places like China, where the government also manipulates its currency. Why should we let our hard-earned tax dollars support the economies of cheaters like China and help pad the pockets of some of the very same corporate fat cats who got us in this economic mess in the first place?”

Also on Wednesday, USW and other activists gathered in the nation’s Capitol for the union’s Rapid Response conference. They will be taking their message right to Capitol Hill as the group of nearly 1,000 rank-and-file Steelworkers will be lobbying Congress in support of the economic renewal package and Buy America, as well as rallying and lobbying in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Activists are also gathered for the Blue Green Alliance’s annual Good Jobs, Green Jobs national conference. The Blue Green Alliance is a strategic partnership between the USW and other labor unions and environmental organizations to expand the job-creating potential of the green economy.

Conway said it’s time for an end to the wrong and worn-out rhetoric of those claiming the Buy America provision is protectionist and would hurt job creation. According to an Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) study by the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, significant investment in infrastructure could create more than 250,000 manufacturing jobs if U.S.-made goods are used.

“No one is advocating that we close our borders to trade. Let’s not lose sight of the purpose of the economic recovery package – to create jobs and demand here. We should not be afraid to implement these provisions so that we use the stimulus funds to create the most jobs possible in the United States,” he said.