IAM Joins Forces with Union Allies in Call to Investigate Chinese Shipbuilding Practices

The IAM recently joined the United Steelworkers Union (USW), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO at a press conference to announce the filing of a Section 301 petition, calling on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to initiate an investigation of Chinese commercial shipbuilding.

WATCH: Press Conference on American Shipbuilding

Over the past two decades, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) enacted a comprehensive strategy to dominate global transportation and logistics networks, including employing an array of non-market policies. Meanwhile, U.S. shipbuilding capacity continues to diminish.

“The recent rise of China as a naval superpower underscores the urgency of this issue,” said IAM International President Brian Bryant. “Chinese shipbuilders have made significant strides in recent years, rapidly expanding their capabilities and challenging American dominance in the maritime domain. To maintain our strategic advantage in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, we must redouble our efforts to invest in and support our shipbuilding industry. We need a multi-pronged approach to maintain America’s Naval dominance that strengthens our shipbuilding industry. This includes increased funding for apprentice programs, partnering with experienced workers (union journeymen), and investing in cutting-edge shipbuilding technology.”

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D- Wis.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) 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.

“When we make things in America, we build strong supply chains, create good-paying jobs, and can keep our country safe. Over the last two decades, China has tried to rig the system with unfair trade practices in the shipbuilding industry – hurting American workers, American shipbuilders, and our national security,” said Sen. Baldwin. “Today, we’re standing with American workers and calling on the Biden Administration to quickly investigate China’s anti-competitive practices and help level the playing field.”

Senator Baldwin has long championed Buy America policies to support American businesses and workers. She fought to advance her American Made Navy Act in this year’s annual defense legislation, which would ensure by 2033 any new Navy ship purchased uses 100% domestically produced materials, like propulsion systems, shipboard components, couplings, shafts, support bearings, and more. She also worked to include strong Buy America standards in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“On a level playing field, American workers can out-compete anyone. That’s why Senator Baldwin and I are leading the effort in Congress to push the Biden Administration to investigate and impose tariffs on the Chinese Communist Party’s shipbuilding industry,” said Sen. Casey. “To protect the American steel industry, our workers, and our jobs, we’ve got to crack down and hold China accountable.”

USTR Katherine Tai has less than 40 days to determine whether she will pursue an investigation of Chinese shipbuilding. 

“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 USW International President David 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.”

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