The metro-east breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when U.S. Steel announced that it wouldn’t be closing its Granite City mill after all. Now 2,000 workers get to keep their jobs, plus countless others whose livelihoods depend on the mill’s continued successful operation.
Whew. Losing that many jobs at once would have been devastating to Granite City and the entire region, which already has an unemployment rate that’s higher than Illinois’ average.
U.S. Steel didn’t say specifically why it reversed its plans, but it’s probably not a coincidence that this happened along with decisive congressional steps to deal with the dumping of foreign steel. U.S. steel companies have long complained about China, South Korea and other countries that unfairly sell cheaper, government-subsidized steel to America. The process of filing a formal trade complaint is so slow that even when U.S. steel companies win, they lose. One recent case took three years to resolve. That’s such a slow process it’s virtually worthless.
People often complain about government regulations and their negative effect on business, but this time government really is trying to help. We can think of few situations such as this, when a government policy action helped change a business decision.
Let’s hope changes get implemented and work as intended, and that they are enough to avert any near disasters like this.