PRESS Release from United Steelworkers
For Immediate Release    March 20, 2008

USW Calls on Presidential Candidates to Address China’s Trade Violations

North America's Largest Industrial Union Awaits Answers

PITTSBURGH - The United Steelworkers (USW) is asking the presidential candidates how they plan to address unfair trade policies with China and other countries, policies that are feeding the nation’s economic woes, harming the environment and endangering consumers.

In a letter sent this week by USW International President Leo W. Gerard, the union asks Sens. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain to detail how they plan to address “gaping disparities in wages and rights between our country and those of the developing world.”

The USW, which endorsed Democrat John Edwards in the presidential race, has not endorsed a candidate since the former vice presidential candidate ended his bid for the White House. With 1.2 million active and retired members, the USW is the largest industrial union in North America.

“Your views will be especially important to the more than 175,000 active and retired Steelworkers in Pennsylvania as they evaluate how they will cast their votes in the upcoming presidential primary on April 22,” Gerard wrote. Candidates have been asked to respond by April 1.

Among other things, the letter also asks the candidates for detailed plans to:

The letter points out that more than 3.3. million manufacturing workers have lost jobs and more than 40,000 facilities have closed since 2000 because of failed trade policies.

A trade deficit of roughly $2 billion a day is “an unsustainable imbalance that is mortgaging our economic future,” Gerard wrote. He added that parts of the trade debate such as the North American Free Trade Agreement were discussed during the Ohio primary campaign, but that the candidates must address broader trade issues, including legislation that would ban the import of goods made in sweatshop conditions.

“Workers in this country making $15 per hour (barely $30,000 per year) simply cannot compete with workers in the developing world making 40 cents an hour,” the letter stated. “We will never have a level playing field until our leaders deal with this tremendous gap. Exploitation of workers around the world must be stopped. The standards of living of most of the developing countries must be raised.”

Reforming unfair trade policies that have stripped families of the American Dream, devastated communities, flooded store shelves with toxic and dangerous products and exacerbated global warming is a top campaign issue for working families, Gerard wrote.

“Our members are deeply interested in these issues. They have been on the front lines in the battle against unfair trade and have experienced, first hand, the impact of foreign protectionist and predatory practices,” the letter concluded. “They will be deeply interested in your answers.”

Copies of the letters to Senator Clinton, Senator McCain and Senator Obama.

The USW represents 1.2 million members in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information:

Contact: Marco Trbovich, USW, 412-562-2440 or 412-760-4335