WASHINGTON, D.C. – ArcelorMittal Cleveland is actively hiring for 150 new positions, but good-paying manufacturing jobs like these could be in jeopardy without stronger “Buy America” policies that protect U.S. steelmakers. Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited ArcelorMittal Cleveland’s Middle Dock—adjacent to the facility’s Westside steel shop, which will restart early next quarter after being idled for more than three years—to provide an update on efforts to fill 150 new, good-paying jobs.

Brown, who was also joined by representatives from Cliffs Natural Resources and the United Steelworkers Local 979, also discussed how stronger “Buy America” provisions—particularly those related to the steel purchased for use in armor plate for military vehicles and the steel used in highway, bridge, public transit, rail, aviation infrastructure and equipment—are needed to support and protect manufacturing jobs in the Cleveland area. In recent years, the U.S. government has relaxed regulations that now allow the importation of foreign-made steel for use in armor plate and transit infrastructure. Such a practice hurts American steel producers and puts our defense supply chain and national security at risk.

“The steel industry in Ohio is on the rebound, but we continue to leave this vital American industry—along with our national security—at risk when we buy steel from foreign countries. Taxpayer dollars should be spent on American-made steel—the very best available to protect our servicemembers and to reinforce our highways and bridges,” Brown said. “Importing steel puts both our manufacturing jobs and our national security at risk. We know how to make steel from start to finish right here in Cleveland—there’s no reason why countries like China, Russia, and Brazil should be doing it for us. By strengthening ‘Buy America’ requirements to prioritize domestically-made steel for our military investments and transit investments, we not only support U.S. jobs, but we eliminate the need to rely on foreign nations for vital defense equipment and infrastructure.”

Brown was joined by Eric Hauge, the vice president and general manager at ArcelorMittal Cleveland; Don Gallagher and Kelly Tompkins, both executive vice presidents at Cliffs Natural Resources; and Mark Granakis, president of the United Steelworkers Local 979, to outline how Brown’s efforts would help protect both important manufacturing jobs and America’s national security.

“Challenges to ‘Buy America’ provisions are detrimental to ArcelorMittal’s operations, our 1,700 hardworking Cleveland employees, and the local and regional economies that the steel industry supports. We are thankful for Senator Brown’s leadership in making sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars buy American-made steel, including steel that is melted and poured right here in Ohio,” said Hauge.

“Senator Brown understands that it is in the best interest of the United States to maintain a strong American steel industry supported by a domestic steelmaking supply chain.  Requiring iron and steel that is used as part of taxpayer funded investments -- both in infrastructure and in the protection of our troops -- to be melted and poured in the United States maximizes the positive economic impact of steelmaking and helps maintain strong demand for raw materials such as the iron ore pellets and coking coal produced at Cliffs' U.S. operations,” Tompkins said.

Brown has launched a multipronged effort to support Ohio steelmakers in response to relaxed regulations that undermine “Buy America” requirements intended to support the domestic steel industry.

  • Under Defense Department regulations, specialty metals procured for defense purposes—including steel armor plate—must be produced in the United States.  Despite more than 35 years of practice requiring that steel armor plate be both melted and finished in the United States, the Defense Department issued guidance in 2009 that allowed armor plate melted in outside countries—including Russia and China—to be imported and subjected to simple finishing processes in the United States, then deemed to have been “produced” domestically.  Such a practice hurts Ohio steelmakers and steel jobs, and puts our national security at risk by subjecting our armor plate supply to the whims of foreign nations. Brown’s bill, the United States Steel and Security Act, would require that steel purchased by the U.S. military be 100 percent “made in America”— both melted and finished in the United States.
  • Brown also outlined his Invest in American Jobs Act, which would strengthen existing “Buy America” requirements for investments in highway, bridge, public transit, rail, and aviation infrastructure and equipment to ensure that all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in these projects are produced in the United States. Brown is also actively working to strengthen “Buy America” provisions in the Senate Transportation Jobs bill to ensure that all stages of steel production—from the initial melting and mixing stage through final coating processes—take place in the United States.

Some steel “converter mills” located in the United States import semi-finished steel slabs from foreign nations, then re-heat these slabs and convert them into finished steel products.  This re-heating process is highly automated and accounts for only a small percentage of the total required investment and, consequently, far fewer jobs. This “slab conversion” model represents a direct threat to the “hot end” of steelmaking like ArcelorMittal’s Cleveland furnaces.  If this model were to take hold, it would endanger jobs at operations like this and harm companies like Cliffs Natural Resources, that produce the critical raw materials for steelmaking. This “melted and poured” standard ensures that the job-creating impact of critical infrastructure investments is maximized, and that taxpayer dollars are reinvested in jobs and communities in the United States.