Steel mill jobs might return after unfair trade declarations

Steel company layoffs in Granite City

Granite City steel mill workers face layoffs by U.S. Steel
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Granite City steel mill workers face layoffs by U.S. Steel

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost just got some face time with President Trump, which could mean good things for Granite City and Alton with their too-quiet steel companies.

Trump's administration has determined unfair foreign competition is damaging a U.S. industry vital to national defense. Steelworkers have complained of unfair competition for 20 years, but within a few months Trump will announce what he plans to do about it.

Bost got the audience with Trump because he is co-chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus.

"We've seen the harm that unfair and illegal trade practices have done to our steel industry right in Madison County, with the idling of Granite City Works and layoffs at Alton Steel," Bost said. "That's why it's vitally important for President Trump to take action to ensure U.S. companies and workers have the ability to compete on an even playing field."

Granite City saw 2,000 steel jobs vanish in 2015, with just a fraction of the workers recalled. Illinois has 10,000 steel jobs out of 140,000 nationally.

So potentially good news for the local economy and an aggressive approach from the administration, which also on Tuesday started an investigating into big welded steel pipe dumping by six nations. Dumping is when they sell steel here for less than they do in their own nation, in China's case their own companies will pay up to 133 percent more for their steel.

Granite City Steel file
In this News-Democrat file photo, flat rolled steel rests on rail cars at U.S. Steel Corp. in Granite City. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

While critics worry about potential for a trade war or hikes in consumer prices, Granite City can already say with certainty what happens when our nation does nothing about unfairly priced steel imports.