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MTD, USW, and Other Affiliates File Shipbuilding Trade Petition


Today, the MTD and several of its affiliates took a stand against anti-competitive, unfair shipbuilding practices that have threatened the possibility of the People’s Republic of China dominating the open seas.

The United Steelworkers Union (USW), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO have filed a petition today under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 challenging China’s unfair trade practices in the Maritime, Logistics and Shipbuilding Sector.

Section 301 provides for a 45-day review period by the United States Trade Representative of petitions filed to determine whether a full investigation of the issues should be initiated. The investigation could result in imposing relief measures to address the alleged unfair practices and to ensure the viability of the domestic producers and workers that have been harmed.

USW President David McCall, IAMAW President Brian Bryant, and MTD President David Heindel joined U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Bob Casey (D-PA) to outline the case made in the USTR petition.

“The United States once had nearly 30 major shipyards; now we’re down to just a handful,” said McCall. “That correlates with more than 70,000 lost shipbuilding jobs, not to mention all the secondary jobs the industry supports.”

“China has surpassed the United States and now operates the world’s largest navy,” McCall continued.. “Rebuilding our Merchant Marine is not only essential to increasing our nation’s sealift capability, it will help shore up the critical supply chains our military and commercial shipbuilding industries share, making us safer and more resilient.”

In remarks prepared for the event, Heindel said, “On behalf of the Maritime Trades Department as well as my home union, the Seafarers, we are proud supporters of this overdue effort to promote American shipbuilding…. I have 100 percent confidence in our brothers and sisters who work at United States shipyards. They are second to none when it comes to skill and dedication and craftsmanship, and I know they’ll rise to the occasion if we simply give them the chance by creating a level playing field.”

Sens. Baldwin and Casey today sent a letter to the Biden administration in support of the trade petition, representing a growing coalition of policymakers fighting to revitalize the shipbuilding industry.

“Labor unions and the Biden administration have worked together to establish a worker-centered trade policy and ramp up domestic manufacturing capacity through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act,” said McCall. “Reviving the commercial shipbuilding industry will enable America to expand those investments, ensure a steady supply of goods at home, and grow the middle class.”

USTR Katherine Tai has 45 days to determine whether she will pursue an investigation of Chinese shipbuilding.

Please read President McCall’s piece in this morning’s Financial Times, or visit the website the Steelworkers have set up to boost the petition.

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