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Economy and Business

Northeast Ohio steelworkers say cheap Korean imports will cost them jobs
They're asking the Commerce Department to levy tariffs on the oil and gas pipe

Kevin Niedermier
A load of oil and gas pipe made at Lorain's U.S Steel plant. Workers are afraid the same pipe imported from South Korea, selling at 30 percent less, will cost them jobs.
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Northeast Ohio steel workers say cheap steel pipe imported to the U.S. from South Korea is putting hundreds of Ohio jobs at risk. At a rally in Lorain today, they called on the Commerce Department to put tariffs on the Korean products.

LISTEN: Northeast Ohio and Korean steel

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John Wilkinson manages the tube plant at U.S. Steel in Lorain, which employs about 600 people.

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The tube plant at Lorain’s U.S. Steel facility employs about 600 people. At the rally outside the plant, workers said their jobs are threatened because the Koreans are selling pipe in the U.S. for 30 percent below market value.

In a preliminary ruling earlier this year, the Commerce Department said eight other countries -- including India, Ukraine and Saudi Arabia -- were dumping the pipe in the U.S., and slapped tariffs on them. But, Korea, which was also being investigated, wasn’t cited. The Commerce Department is reviewing that case and is expected to rule in July.

Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing hopes for the same decision that was made against China a few years ago.

“Relief was provided and the Chinese imports shrunk to almost nothing. But the Koreans picked it up and now you have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of steel pipe coming into the U.S. at an unfair price.”

The Korean pipe now accounts for about 20 percent of the total used in the U.S. It’s used for oil and gas exploration including fracking. Across the country, about 8,000 people are employed making the pipe.

(Click image for larger view.)

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