Brown Testifies Before ITC, Supports Extending Section 201 Safeguard to Level the Playing Field for Ohio Whirlpool Workers



WASHINGTON, DC – (November 5, 2020) – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) testified on behalf of Ohio Whirlpool workers, urging the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to recommend that President Trump extend safeguard tariffs to ensure Whirlpool and its workers get sufficient relief from unfair trade practices of foreign competitors. Brown has led efforts with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to help Whirlpool workers in Clyde. Last month, Brown sent a letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) urging them to support an extension of the current washing machine safeguard.

“If we don’t extend the safeguard, these companies will continue this bad behavior, and workers in Clyde will pay the price,” said Brown. “On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited Whirlpool’s ability to recover from the injury caused by Samsung and LG. An extension of the safeguard is necessary to prevent Samsung and LG’s manipulation of the U.S. market and to ensure American companies like Whirlpool are able to compete on a level playing field.”

Since 2012, Brown has worked to level the playing field for Whirlpool workers by cracking down on countries that unfairly import their products into the U.S. at the expense of American workers.

In September 2017, Brown testified on behalf of Ohio Whirlpool workers in a trade case at the International Trade Commission (ITC). In October, the ITC ruled in favor of Whirlpool. Following the ITO ruling, Brown and Portman sent a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer urging trade relief for Ohio Whirlpool workers.

In 2012 and again in 2017, Brown visited the Whirlpool plant in Clyde to tour the facility and meet with workers. Brown also spoke with Clyde Whirlpool workers on his podcast.

In October 2016, Brown and Portman wrote to then-U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, urging her to take action against the flood of unfairly traded washing machine imports that are harming U.S. manufacturers and their workers, including the Whirlpool plant in Clyde.

Brown’s legislation, the Leveling the Playing Field Act, signed into law in June 2015, has restored strength to antidumping and countervailing duty statutes that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the ITC when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies. The law led to key wins for Ohio steel companies in major trade cases last year on cold-rolledhot-rolled, and corrosion-resistant steel, including U.S. Steel, Nucor, ArcelorMittal, and AK Steel, which together employ more than 8,200 Ohio workers.

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery can be found below:

Chairman Kearns and members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity to testify in this case regarding large residential washers.

This is now the fifth time I’ve come to the ITC to testify on behalf of Whirlpool and its Ohio workers, including workers from Clyde.

Each time I’m here, I tell you how important Whirlpool is to the American manufacturing sector – they have nine plants and 25,000 workers in the U.S.

I tell you how important the company is to Ohio – they have 10,000 workers in the state.

And I tell you how important the washing machine factory and its 3,000 jobs are to the community of Clyde.

Last time I was here I testified on behalf of the domestic industry in support of maintaining the Section 201 safeguard for the full three years.

My remarks today aren’t going to be much different than those I delivered last June because the domestic industry still needs safeguard relief.

As I’ve mentioned before, Whirlpool had no choice but to file its safeguard case because Samsung and LG have gone to great lengths to put American producers out of business and dominate the U.S. washer market.

Fortunately, the Commission agreed.  You found that the industry was seriously injured by surging imports and recommended that a safeguard be put in place.

As a result, the President imposed tariffs on washing machine imports and certain washing machine parts.

I’m here to testify that the tariffs have helped American companies compete and helped them keep jobs in Ohio.

U.S. companies have been able to expand production and invest in their facilities.  3,000 workers in Clyde who were at risk have been able to breathe a little easier.

In fact, Whirlpool actually expanded in Clyde, hiring 200 more workers at that facility.

And since the safeguard has been in place, Clyde employees saw their wages increase in 2019 and 2020.

We’ve also seen Samsung and LG build washer factories in Tennessee and South Carolina.

This is exactly what the safeguard was intended to do.

Last time I came before the Commission in this case, I responded to the criticism that the safeguard tariffs have increased washer prices.

What I said then is still true today:

Samsung and LG had been dumping in the U.S. market for so many years that prices were artificially low because of their cheating.

We also know that low prices aren’t very helpful if you don’t have a job – and when we fail to defend American jobs against companies and countries that cheat, we end up with more unemployed workers and lower wages.

The Section 201 safeguard exists to ensure domestic producers can defend themselves against unfair trade practices, and that’s what has happened in the washer industry.

But we can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, and the safeguard should be extended to ensure the domestic industry gets the relief it needs.

Samsung and LG have a long history of cheating.  And continue to take action to try to get an unfair advantage over domestic producers.

If we don’t extend the safeguard, these companies will continue this bad behavior, and workers in Clyde will pay the price.

On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited Whirlpool’s ability to recover from the injury caused by Samsung and LG.

An extension of the safeguard is necessary to prevent Samsung and LG’s manipulation of the U.S. market and to ensure American companies like Whirlpool are able to compete on a level playing field.

And that’s all companies like Whirlpool want – fair competition.  That’s the point of Section 201.

I urge the Commission to acknowledge the strong progress made by the domestic washer industry in the last three years and to recommend extending the safeguard.

The workers in Clyde deserve the opportunity to fully recover from Samsung and LG’s predatory behavior and regain their competitive footing.

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