USW Weighs in on Climate/Energy Reform Letter
United Steelworkers (USW) international president, Leo W. Gerard proclaimed the union’s support for ten senators pushing Congress to ensure that any proposed comprehensive climate and energy bill will adequately protect the American manufacturing industry from international competitors.
“The USW has long believed that ensuring a clean and prosperous planet for our children and rebuilding the American economy can and should go hand in hand,” Gerard said. “To accomplish this, we must ensure that any energy and climate bill recognize the unique position of manufacturing industries and provide them the incentives and assistance necessary to lead America into the clean energy future.”
On April 15, ten senators, led by Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a letter to the Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) authors of a highly anticipated climate/energy reform bill. In the letter, the Senators suggested specific provisions designed to insulate American manufacturers from competitive disadvantages resulting from dramatic climate/energy reform.
According to Gerard, “The senators’ letter touches on many issues critical to the success of an energy and climate bill. Among these is the need for a comprehensive anti-leakage package that consists of output-based allocations to energy-intensive, trade-exposed manufacturers backed up by an automatically-triggered border adjustment applied to products from countries that have not made the same commitment to reducing carbon emissions as the U.S.”
Unless border adjustments are activated, the USW would like to see pricing measures remain in effect until a binding international agreement is reached which would place international competitors on equal footing with American companies complying with new legislation.
The USW president added, “Still, these leakage provisions cannot fully meet the needs of manufacturers to retool and institute new, cleaner processes. This is why there is a critical need for these companies to obtain access to the capital necessary to make these improvements. Further, these investments will only take place if manufacturers can be confident of a market for their products, so it is crucial that wherever possible preferences be put in place to ensure domestic sourcing of clean energy products and the components that go into them.
“With the comprehensive program laid out by Senator Brown and the other senators, the dream of a clean energy economy developed and built in America by American workers can become a reality. We strongly urge Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman to include these proposals in their bill and to fund them fully. Only through a comprehensive and fully-funded manufacturing program can an energy and climate bill be a success.”
Aside from praising Brown, the USW lauded the senators who joined in supporting the letter including Sens., Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania), Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina), Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) and Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia).
The United Steelworkers represents 850,000 workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply, and the energy-producing industries forming the largest industrial union in North America.