WEIRTON, W.Va. — Although members of President Donald Trump’s own party are furious over his plan to institute tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, you’ll hear no criticism in West Virginia’s upper Ohio valley.
“It’s long overdue. It should have been done 40 years ago,” said Mark Glyptis, President of United Steel Workers Local 2911. “These tariffs are going to help to some degree make it fairer to trade. It doesn’t solve the trade issues by any means, but it creates a more fair circumstance.”
Glyptis and many in his industry have fought for years for protection against illegally dumped steel on the U.S. market. The union has long maintained steel produced in nations where the government subsidizes production costs and uses child labor to make their product runs counter to the United State’s core values and interests. Glyptis said the circumstance made it impossible for American steel makers to compete.
“You always hear, ‘Let’s level the playing field.’ Well, the playing field has been so tilted 50 steel companies went bankrupt,” said Glyptis. “Those companies did not forget how to make good steel, it was just impossible to compete.”
The president intends to put a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% on imported aluminum products. Some are critical and say the jobs saved in the steel industry would be offset by losses in other industries forced to deal with higher prices for raw materials. Glyptis wholeheartedly disagreed and said any increased costs associated would be minimal.
“I’m not afraid of a trade war,” he explained. “It’s going to cause a can of beer to increase by one penny. It’s a one cent increase, it’s hardly a steep price to pay.”
The President has backtracked some and promised exemptions for some nations to the new tax, including Mexico and Canada among other countries. The decision for exceptions was not a concern for Glyptis who understood the need to make exceptions, particularly for countries who were competing in a fair manner.
“They call it ‘protectionism’ , to me that’s a good word. An animal protects its loved ones, our government ought to protect American citizens,” Glyptis said. “This is going to protect us by helping us to build our own battleships and defense weapons, which we cannot do today.”
Glyptis said the plate steel needed for manufacturing Navy ships is no longer made in America and must be imported. Under the tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration he believe that would change and the Ohio Valley and the entire nation would benefit.
“Our government has given us nothing but rhetoric and it didn’t matter if it was a Republican president or a Democrat president, they did the same thing and gave the American public false information,” said Glyptis. “President Trump has honored what he said he was going to do in one of his campaign promises. I applaud him for that and thank him for that.”