Posted February 5, 2009
Canada & USA Trade

Steelworkers tell US lawmakers that coordinated North American approach needed to create and preserve jobs

TORONTO - United Steelworkers Canadian Director Ken Neumann said he is in full agreement with the testimony by International Steelworker President Leo W Gerard about the need to get Canadian and US lawmakers to strengthen manufacturing and jobs in both countries. "North American workers would benefit from expanded "Buy Canadian" and "Buy American" procurement policies in the both our countries," Neumann said.

"Leo Gerard, in his many years of work in Canada and now as International President has always called for fair trade that benefits workers in Canada and the United States," said Canadian Director Ken Neumann.

In his statement to the United States House Steel Caucus in Washington, Steelworkers International President Leo W Gerard stated: "Because we are an International union, and because Canadian and US manufacturing is so integrated, we encourage you and other members of the Steel Caucus to approach your counterparts in Canada to discuss a coordinated approach for the North American industry to strengthen its ability to create and preserve these good jobs in both countries."

"I represent workers in the steel industry in the U.S. and in Canada and would not be here today if I thought this was simply a protectionist measure that would harm our members.

We understand that some are claiming this is a protectionist measure and could ignite a trade war; but this is just plain wrong and simply more of the worn-out rhetoric and thinking that has driven us off the cliff. We (the US) are the largest importer in the world - we soaked up $819 billion in imported goods in 2007 -- and are in deficit with every major trading partner in the world. No one is advocating that we close our borders to trade."

Ken Neumann added: "The US has had laws requiring the use of domestically-produced goods for government contracts since the 1933 Buy American Act. These laws are consistent with international trade obligations."

"In fact, Canada carved out even broader exemptions than the US from WTO agreements for government procurement. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has chosen not to use these exemptions to institute a Buy Canadian policy.

We believe that the last federal budget should have included Buy Canadian requirements. Such provisions - like Buy America - would not violate international trade agreements," said Neumann.

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