USW Says Without Tariffs, Imports Will 'Hollow Out' Tire Industry

May 25, 2021

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway says imported tires from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam threaten to "hollow out" the American tire industry. He testified alongside other union leaders asking the International Trade Commission to penalize imported passenger and light truck tires with tariffs.

Conway was one of seven USW leaders to testify during a May 25 hearing in front of the ITC. That hearing came one day after the International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce issued its final determination in the investigation, and said yes imported tires from those four regions of Asia should be subject to tariffs.

The investigation, which has spanned more than a year, began as previous tire tariff cases have started — with a petition filed by the USW.

The ITC is scheduled to vote on whether to impose tariffs on June 23.

“I am incredibly proud of our members and our union for standing up for the American tire industry, again and again,” says Conway. “We have seen how dumped and subsidized imports can hollow out our industry, drive down production, eliminate jobs and shutter plants. We have also seen how just getting the relief we’re entitled to under the law can dramatically level the playing field.”

The USW says members testified "that they lost production, hours, jobs and even in the case of Goodyear’s Gadsden, Ala., facility, whole plants" as a result of the imported tires.

The union says "trade remedies have already helped reverse these trends, including at Kumho Tire in Macon, Ga., where newly organized members of the USW will reap the benefits of a $22 million investment that will boost production in Georgia by half a million tires per year."

Kevin Johnsen, who chairs the USW’s Rubber and Plastics Industry Conference, says, “If final duty orders are imposed, we are very optimistic about the future of our industry. We know our employers are as well, as evidenced by their new willingness to invest in new equipment and increased production when the market is free from unfair imports.”

Five local union presidents, representing workers at Cooper Tire in Findlay, Ohio, and Texarkana, Ark., Goodyear in Gadsden, Ala., and Fayetteville, N.C., and Michelin in Fort Wayne, Ind., also testified.

The USW also represents workers who make passenger and light truck tires in Topeka, Kan., Tuscaloosa, Ala., Tonawanda, N.Y., Macon, Ga., and Salem, Va.