What we don’t talk about when we talk about steel

Oct 31, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Thomas C. Graham

Tags  Parting Shots, Thomas C. Graham

Are you tired of the endless election campaigning? Do you enjoy the dinnertime robocalls asking for contributions? Aside from pollsters, television pundits and newspapers, it is hard to see who benefits from two-year-long election campaigns. Of course, there is a lot of money spent--but it is certainly not spent productively. We would be well advised to legislate the permissible duration of campaigning, rather than focus on the money spent campaigning. The endless repetition of hackneyed political cliches does not change minds, despite what the experts apparently advise. OK, we all hate the rich and we are all in favor of the “middle class.” Now where do we go?

We are afflicted with a similar syndrome in the United Steelworkers union-represented steel industry. U.S. Steel Corp. and ArcelorMittal USA Inc. just settled three-year labor contracts with the union. Should this be cause for jubilation, or is something more pernicious going on? With RG Steel LLC and its assets now offline due to bankruptcy, about 8 million tons per year of USW capacity just disappeared. This occurred after many years of continuous decline; unionized mills once accounted for essentially all of the 100 million tons of annual capacity. This has now slipped to about 40 million tons.....

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