- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2006

A pro-steel industry organization has started a new ad campaign promoting candidates who support trade laws protecting U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“Help Wanted: Seeking a political candidate who will do something about the 44,900 manufacturing jobs American workers are losing every month,” the ad reads. “A candidate who will get our government to start enforcing the trade laws it refuses to enforce now, so we can stop countries like China, India and Brazil from stealing American jobs. Send resume to: the voters.”

The print and radio campaign is from Stand up for Steel (SUFS), a labor-management coalition that includes the United Steelworkers union and steel manufacturers such as Mittal Steel, United States Steel and WCI Steel. The Glover Park Group, a District-based communications firm, produced the ads.

“It’s time for these politicians who say they are for the American worker to put their votes where their money is,” said Terry Straub, vice president of government affairs for United States Steel. “We’d like to get into the public debate of the campaign.”

One union watchdog group, however, says the industry has created many of its own problems. “A long history of poor union leadership has rendered the steel industry uncompetitive,” said Sarah Longwell, spokeswoman for Union Facts.

China now produces more steel than the combined output of the world’s next four largest producers: Japan, the United States, Russia and South Korea. Critics say that China’s restrictive labor laws and state subsidies allow the country to export goods to countries including the United States at a deflated market value.

“American workers are being sacrificed for foreign countries who, frankly, aren’t playing by the rules,” said SUFS spokeswoman Tracy Sefl.

The ads are running in New York and other states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Connecticut. New York has lost more than 165,000 manufacturing jobs during the past five years, part of a U.S. job-export total of 2.8 million, according to SUFS.

“The steel industry has never been more healthy than it is today,” said Dan Ikenson, associate director of the Center for Trade Studies at the Cato Institute, an organization that supports free-trade policies. Mr. Ikenson said that while the manufacturing industry has lost jobs, those same workers have been mostly successful at finding similarly paying jobs in the service industry.

If the ads are successful, they could tap into similar voter resentment over national security and labor concerns tied into illegal immigration.

“They are appealing to a demographic we call the ‘Lou Dobbs adherent,’” Mr. Ikenson said, in reference to the CNN talk show host and critic of illegal immigration.

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