(USW) International President Leo Gerard praised the World Trade
Organization’s decision today against “Chinese policies to restrict the
export of rare earth minerals and other materials that are critical in
countless industrial and high technology products involving
family-supportive manufacturing jobs.”
Action on rare
earths and tungsten originated in a complaint filed by the USW under Section
301 of U.S. trade law in 2010 against a broad range of Chinese policies
“harming the U.S. alternative and renewable energy sector” and affecting
products “critical to a number of defense components and systems.”
The global trade
case was brought by President Obama in March 2012 and was later joined by
both the European Union and Japan. China produces more than 95 percent of
all rare earths, which go into electronic products such as flat-screen
televisions, smart phones, hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy
efficient lighting, and petroleum.
this statement just before deadline:
“The U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR) has been aggressive and determined to confront China
about its export limits on rare earth minerals and other materials. Those
products are critical ingredients in a broad range of items across the
manufacturing sector where workers’ jobs depend on fair trade practices and
a steady market supply. China’s policies have had a direct impact on U.S.
production and employment.
“Companies have had
to locate production in China because of their protectionist policies. China
has also tried to hold countries hostage to rare earth supplies.
workers represented by the Steelworkers union know first-hand the negative
impact of China’s practices. The USTR’s actions, now backed up by the WTO,
are what trade enforcement is all about: Taking on the protectionist
policies of our trading partners and fighting for U.S. jobs. China’s
policies relating to rare earths first helped put our domestic industry on
the chopping block--with a mine and refinery operated by USW-represented
workers. Once the mine closed a few years back, China tightened the supply
noose and strangled domestic manufacturers who rely on rare earths.
customers had to pay inflated prices for those products. Others relocated
their plants to China that relied on supplies of rare earths for producing
products like electrical lighting. China achieved its intended goal of
moving production out of the United States and into China.”
Gerard added “when you try to promote a new approach, one of the first
questions policy makers often asks: ‘Is it WTO legal?’ Policy makers in
China ask a different question: ‘How long can we get away with it?’”
According to the
USW, the re-started mine called MolyCorp in Mountain Pass, Calif., is
currently America’s only rare earths mine operation. The USW now represents
more than 300 miners who are bringing the mine and refinery back on line.
“Production of light rare earths at MolyCorp will help ensure that China
can’t hold America and other nations hostage in the future,” the USW said.
The USW is the
largest private-sector union in North America, representing workers employed
in metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining and renewable
energy products, chemicals, transportation, health care, security, hotels,
and municipal governments.