The United Steelworkers is trying to use a case involving tire imports as the centerpiece of its push for tougher enforcement of trade laws by the Obama administration, especially involving China, at a time when all types of U.S. manufacturing are reeling from the recession and a steep drop in car sales.

The union alleges that China unfairly flooded the U.S. market with car and truck tires from 2004 to 2008, leading to closures at U.S. tire plants and the loss of at least 5,000 jobs. Chinese imports surged 215% during that four-year span, according to the union, while domestic production fell 25%.

In a hearing Tuesday at the U.S. International Trade Commission, 10 members of Congress from both parties testified on behalf of the union and urged the commission and President Barack Obama to aid the domestic industry.

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