United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard released the
following statement on Thursday after the U.S. Department of Justice
announced that an additional nine Japan-based auto parts producers, along
with two executives, pleaded guilty and agreed to fines of almost $750
million for their illegal activities to fix prices on auto parts.
“Today’s announcement is a success in an investigation that has identified
broad price-fixing by Japanese auto parts companies that has affected more
than 25 million car buyers in the U.S. The Justice Department’s
investigation has now netted agreements to plead guilty from 20 companies
and more than $1.6 billion in criminal penalties. In addition, 21 executives
have been charged with 17 already sentenced to prison.
“But the investigation highlights the broader problem of doing business with
Japan, especially its auto and auto parts sector. For decades, they have
engaged in exclusionary and illegal trade practices that have kept our
exports out of their market and flooded our market with their products. Our
largest trade deficit in autos and auto parts is with Japan, a number that
grows higher year by year. But what’s really important is not the size of
the trade deficit in that sector, but the pain in terms of lost jobs,
shattered dreams, and shuttered factories all across America.
“Today’s announcement may be celebrated by the prosecutors, but it only adds
to the concerns of workers who see the Administration embracing Japan’s
entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
Japan cheats, it’s that simple. We do not want the trade negotiations to
grease the way for Japan’s auto and auto parts companies to capture more of
our market and jeopardize more U.S. jobs. In coming days, some will try to
promote Justice’s actions as proof that they will be tough on Japan but real
action on Japan’s currency manipulation, its predatory and illegal trade
practices, will have to take place before those arguments will have any
“The fines may penalize the companies and the executives, but they do not
compensate their victims. The money the government collects should be used
to restore production, rehire those who have suffered and refund the excess
prices consumers have had to pay. I expect that the penalties being paid
would only cover a fraction of the pain that has been felt.
“The proper approach would be to require Japan to clean up its act and earn
the right to be a preferred trade partner. The lesson of today’s action
should not be to reward them after they have been found to have damaged our
producers, their employees and the communities in which they operate and