St. Louis Public Radio News
5:39 am
Tue April 7, 2009

Steelworkers rally against Indian pipe

Granite City, IL – About 1,000 laid off steelworkers in Granite City, Illinois rallied on the banks of the Mississippi River to protest against imported steel from India.

The steel pipe was purchased to build a pipeline to move tar sands from Canadian province of Alberta down to the Conoco-Phillips Wood River oil refinery.

The pipe was shipped by rail and now sits in the shadow of U.S. Steel's idled Granite City plant. Gary Warren says the sight of the Indian steel is slap in the face to American workers.

"I got laid off last week and they're shipping in pipes from overseas...why aren't they American made? It's just not right," says Warren.

A spokesman for TransCanada, the contractor who purchased the pipes, says the project bid went out at a time when American foundries couldn't fill the order.

U.S. Steel's Granite City works completely shut down this month after laying off 300 workers from the company's coke-making facility.

Jim Robinson is the Director of the United Steelworkers, District 7. He says past decisions have bankrupted American manufacturing at the expense of world capitalism.

"Its time to look at that green pipe back there and say, 'this is where we got to, because of where you lead us, and now we're taking our country back, we're taking a new approach, we're taking a stand, we're taking back our country,'" exclaimed Robinson to enthusiastic applause.

In the past year some 2,000 workers have been laid off from steel companies in the Metro East.

Robinson says American manufacturers are being forced to compete unfairly against countries that subsidize industry and don't pay the same costs for healthcare.