Three months after losing their import quota protection, the nation's six biggest steel companies are scheduled today to file the largest collection of unfair-trade cases against foreign steel producers.
The heads of the steel companies and the United Steelworkers union, which represents their workers, plan a news conference at the U.S. Capitol to announce trade cases involving sheet steel, galvanized sheet and steel plate, said Henry H. Von Spreckelsen, a spokesman for Bethlehem Steel Corp. Those products account for more than 50 percent of domestic steel production.
The companies and the unions will be joined by House and Senate members from steel-producing states, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.
The companies charge foreign steelmakers still "dump" subsidized steel in the United States in violation of U.S. laws. Such cases are filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce. If the government finds in favor of the companies, it could impose duties on the foreign products to counteract the alleged price advantage.
The companies that plan to file the cases are Bethlehem, U.S. Steel Group, LTV Corp., Armco Inc., Inland Steel and National Steel Corp.
Two of them operate in the Baltimore area. Bethlehem operates the Sparrows Point steel mill in Baltimore County with about 6,000 workers. Armco owns a stainless steel plant on East Biddle Street, with 350 workers, and the Eastern Stainless Steel plant on Rolling Mill Road, which has about 600 employees.
The cases have been expected since President Bush allowed "voluntary" steel quotas to expire at the end of March after being in force for eight years.
A month later, foreign steel imports jumped to 1.6 million tons, the most in 15 months, said the American Iron and Steel Institute, a trade group. At that level, foreign imports accounted for 19.4 percent of the supply in the U.S. market, the institute said.
Hiroshi Saito, chairman of the Japan Iron & Steel Federation, in a letter last week to U.S. Trade Representative Carla A. Hills, said the filings would "harass legitimate and fair competition and make it difficult, if not impossible, for the Japanese steel industry to support future resolution of international steel trade problems."