A trade association representing the steel supply chain appealed to members to drum up funding for its lawsuit against the Section 232 steel tariffs of 25 percent on foreign-made steel.
The American Institute for International Steel, along with oil country tubular goods-maker Sim-Tex and steel-trader Kurt Orban Partners, filed a lawsuit disputing the constitutionality of the law allowing the president to impose tariffs on the grounds that the erosion of the U.S. steel industry is a threat to national security.
To pay for the litigation, the suburban Washington, D.C.-based AIIS has been soliciting checks of "$2,500, $5,000, $10,000 or more" to "help keep our effort going."
"We are blessed to have an especially gifted, hard-working and highly accomplished legal team," AIIS Chairman John D. Foster said in an email to members.
"They are working for us at a significant discount, but this work is not free. Legal costs and related expenses are mounting quickly. We will certainly be outspent by the government in this effort, but we will not be out-lawyered, or out-worked. ... I fully appreciate what a sacrifice it is to write that kind of check. But as much as those amounts are, they do not compare to the amount of economic harm your business may continue to suffer under these onerous, destructive, and totally unwarranted trade measures."
The Section 232 tariffs were imposed after years of record imports and red ink for U.S. steelmakers, including a $1.5 billion loss by U.S. Steel and an $8 billion loss by ArcelorMittal in 2015. The United Steelworkers union estimates more than 13,500 workers were laid off in the steel and aluminum industries that year, and recovery has been slow since then, with ArcelorMittal claiming its U.S. operations remain unprofitable.
The AIIS, which represents railroads and other transportation companies, port authorities, union locals, traders and logistics companies, objects that the duties have driven up to the price of steel, including to more than $900 a ton for hot-rolled band in the United States.
"We took this action now, because it was crystal clear that we could not stand by one moment longer while more protectionist-related damage is inflicted on the steel supply chain and on the livelihoods of the many men and women who work in it," Foster said in the email to members. "This damage may soon extend beyond steel and aluminum to the automobile and auto parts sector, and perhaps to other economic sectors as well."