Imports Burn U.S. Steel Market

In recent months the U.S. steel industry has been forced to lay off more than 10,000 workers. The latest shutdown comes in West Virginia, where a plant closure will cost 400 people their jobs just weeks before Christmas. CBS News Economics Correspondent Ray Brady reports.

America's steel workers are crying "stand up for steel" because sales of U.S. made steel are collapsing and so are jobs in Weirton, West Virginia.

John Bianchini has worked at Weirton Steel for 24 years, and has seen some tough times. But never have times turned so bad so fast for the steel industry.

"In May, we set an all time record here in the sheet mill. Right now we are barely running," says Bianchini.

The culprit is imported foreign steel, which is clogging these New Orleans docks and helping to fill container ships that come in from Asia loaded but leave empty.
Americans say the steel is being dumped, sold here for less than it cost to make, in order to protect jobs and failing economies abroad.

According to trade laws, that's illegal and President Clinton could put some sort of tax on that steel.

New
figures show steel imports are up 115 percent from Russia, up 151 percent from South Korea, and up a whopping 210 percent from Japan. All that cheap steel is undercutting domestic steel, and making it tough for American manufacturers to compete.

"Unless it's a level playing field we can't compete, says Bianchi.

"We've got 150- to 200,000 people employed in the steel industry. You could see that drop to half," says Richard Reiderer, president of Weirton Steel.

Weirton Steel CEO Richard Reirder wonders what happened to a 1992 campaign promise President Clinton made in Weirton to get tough and enforce anti-dumping laws. But this enforcement could present an even bigger problem.

If the U.S. gets too tough putting up barriers against foreign steel, that could cause other countries to move against our products, keeping them out. That would slow economies everywhere and could put the U.S. into recession.
So the steel workers keep on marching toward an uncertain future, concerned that soon there won't be many steel mills waving the American flag.

Reported By Ray Brady
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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