This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

We need politicians willing to protect us from unfair trade

In the heat of this historic presidential election, the public has heard endless talk from candidates about rebuilding our national economy and our manufacturing sector. However, as the campaigns roar through the states, we in Pennsylvania have yet to receive any plans these candidates have to ensure that unfair trade does not destroy the core of this nation’s manufacturing sector, along with its workers and communities.

As a native of Mercer County, I am proud to call this area home and to be part of a multi-generational family that has dedicated itself to the U.S. steel-pipe and -tube industry. In the Sharon-Wheatland area, those of us at Wheatland Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group know the benefits that manufacturing brings to communities.

Our company, like many others in the region, provides good-wage jobs that help expand our economy, and we have done this for more than a century. During the course of history, our company has faced many challenges, including the onslaught of unfairly traded steel-pipe and -tube imports. Of course we are not alone, as we are part of the greater steel family, all of which is under attack.

Over the past decade, the manufacturing sector has lost more than 100,000 jobs in Pennsylvania. That is simply unacceptable — and in the case of steel-pipe and -tube, these losses have been attributed to unfairly traded imports.

Even in the current political climate, regardless of party affiliation, we all should agree that we have a problem. Those seeking higher elected office should do more; they should offer solutions. We at Wheatland believe it is time for them to step up and stand up for our industry.

We are not asking for any type of preferential treatment, simply recognition that there is a problem and that our political leaders will take the appropriate action to remedy the problem. Our industry has survived good and bad times, our employees and those in this nation’s steel industry are strong like the products we make, and we are in this fight for the long haul. We and other manufacturers are asking only that we be given the opportunity to compete. This includes employing the tools to enforce trade laws, fight fraud, end massive global subsidized steel overcapacity and otherwise ensure that our industry remains for future generations.

I have witnessed what happens when workers are laid off and when their families must sacrifice with less. I hope we can get those running for president of the United States to take these views into account. In fact, I would like to extend an open invitation to any of the presidential candidates to come to Wheatland Tube. Take a tour of our facilities and talk to our workers. Anyone can read about manufacturing and spout off a few lines at an event. Seeing it up close and personal is a whole different story, and we’d like to offer that opportunity to all of the candidates.

Our state has a steel-rich history which helped build this great nation. It is past time that we join together to ensure that we can carry on these rich traditions into the future.