American workers whose lives were uprooted by multinational free trade deals are thanking President Trump for signing into law tariffs on imported steel and aluminum to protect U.S. jobs.
In a series of videos by the White House, American workers thanked Trump for putting into place a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, two moves that are designed to counteract decades of U.S. jobs readily moving overseas and displacement of U.S. workers due to multinational free trade deals. The video explains:
“Two years ago, we had to shut down 60 percent of our capacity,” Dusty Stevens, the superintendent of Century Aluminum says in the video. “My father worked in the industry.”
“My brother was also affected by the downturn of us having to shut down the lines,” Stevens said. “He lost his job and he had a wife and family and a small child at home.”
“With the tariffs being put on, we will benefit greatly from this and hopefully give our plant some longevity,” Stevens continued. “Now this is giving us the capability of going back to full capacity. It’s the difference between losing 500 jobs and adding 300. So for my family, it gives us total confidence that I will be employed for many years to come versus only having a year or two left.”
Scott Sauritch, a maintenance worker with U.S. steel said his father was in the steel industry and lost his job in the 1980’s due to imports, noting the toll it took on him and his five siblings whom his father had to support:
“500 people are impacted by the signature on the dotted line of these tariffs,” Sauritch said. “And when you see these communities when they’re compromised and are struggling, 500 people in the community, what great joy that is. That is fantastic.”
“A lot of people don’t understand that, but if you’re in the steel industry, you can comprehend that. How often do we get invited to the White House?” Sauritch said as he became emotional. “You know, it’s not very often. It’s just very joyful.”
Century Aluminum Superintendent James Powell from Texas said imports and unfair, free trade deals were responsible for shutting down an aluminum plant that he had previously worked for, noting how the layoffs devastated his community:
“We thought we were running fine and it just came and they said, you know we just can’t sustain anymore, we’re going to be shutting the doors,” Powell said. “I had to go home and tell my wife that and pretty much you’re just hopeless. You don’t know what the next day is going to bring. You don’t know what you’re going to do. I have a family to take care of and I have no way of taking care of that family.”
“This community was devastated when the lines were shut down. So to have those lines come back up, just the opportunity to have that happen, it’s going to be great,” Powell continued. “These tariffs being signed, it’s going to bring back, I mean this community was devastated when the lines were shut down, so this gives us a lot of hope and opportunity.”
Americans are vastly supportive of Trump’s efforts to level the playing field on trade to benefit American workers and U.S. industries, as Breitbart News reported, with more than 80 percent of voters saying they support the president’s economic nationalist agenda on trade.
Free trade, like immigration, is an issue that has come at the expense of American workers. With free trade, foreign markets have been readily opened to multinational corporations, allowing them to offshore American jobs while easily exporting their products back into the U.S.
The Rust Belt, which Trump swept in the 2016 presidential election, has been one of the hardest regions hit because of U.S. free trade with Mexico. In total, about 700,000 U.S. have been displaced, including:
14,500 American workers displaced in Wisconsin
43,600 American workers displaced in Michigan
2,600 American workers displaced in West Virginia
26,300 American workers displaced in Pennsylvania
34,900 American workers displaced in Ohio
34,300 American workers displaced in New York
6,500 American workers displaced in Iowa
24,400 American workers displaced in Indiana
34,700 American workers displaced in Illinois
Meanwhile, since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in the 1990s, at least one million net U.S. jobs have been lost because of the free trade deal. Between 2000 and 2014, there have been about five million manufacturing jobs lost across the country as trade deficits continue soaring.
One former steel town in West Virginia lost 94 percent of its steel jobs because of NAFTA, with nearly 10,000 workers in the town being displaced from the steel industry. Since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, there have been 3.2 million American jobs lost with 2.4 million of those jobs coming from the U.S. manufacturing sector.