It might be a good time to be making steel, as John Ferriola was quoted as saying recently, but who are the pigs in poo? Are they the big bosses of the steel mills, or are they the steel workers, the loyal Trump supporters who helped put the great man in the White House in the first place?
It’s an interesting question, and according to an article by Brian Padden, writing for VOAnews.com, there might be ‘trouble at mill’. The article focused on steel workers at the Bull Moose Tube steel piping factory in Georgia, where union members have been locked out for more than six weeks having rejected a new contract offer: in essence a modest pay rise, but more expensive health insurance. The worker’s ain’t happy and they’re beginning to question whether Trump’s tariffs are all they’re cracked up to be.
Padden quotes one steelworker as saying: “I’m going backwards instead of forwards.”
The steel mill has brought in non-union workers while the striking steel workers have set up a protest camp outside the plant.
While metal prices generally have soared by 30% and profits are seemingly going through the roof, all is not well for the humble steelworker, argues Padden, most of whom thought that Trump’s tariffs would mark the end of ‘belt tightening’.
Perhaps uncertainty is at the root of the problem. Perhaps the steelmakers worry that Trump’s tariffs are little more than a temporary measure and that if they start giving their workers huge pay rises, it might all coming crashing down around them. Padden quotes labour analyst Ian Murry: “In the long run the jobs that are created or saved are unsustainable. And eventually, if the tariffs go away, that industry is going to suffer very, very badly.”
And let’s face it, we are talking about a volatile US President, somebody who might change his mind on something (anything) on the flip of a coin.
Padden’s article questions whether tariffs alone constitute ‘a comprehensive strategy in and of themselves’ – quoting Josh Nassar, legislative director of the United Auto Workers. Furthermore, Padden argues that striking union members disagree with Trump on immigration and the easing of environmental regulations. It looks as if it could all go Pete Tong at any moment.
* Pete Tong in this context means 'wrong', it's cockney rhyming slang: Pete Tong = wrong. Pete Tong is a British disc jockey who works for BBC Radio 1.