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Steelworkers, industry execs rally against imports

DULUTH — Hundreds of unionized steelworkers from Minnesota taconite plants will join with their industry bosses today in an Iron Range rally to support U.S. government sanctions against foreign steel imports.

The rally at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia is aimed at stirring support for U.S. sanctions against foreign-made steel, especially pipe for the burgeoning U.S. oil and gas industries, which critics say are being sold below cost.

Rally organizers say that so-called “dumping’’ of below-cost foreign made steel, especially from South Korea, is strangling the domestic steel industry, which is supplied in large part by Minnesota-mined taconite iron ore.

At least one U.S. mill in Ohio that makes steel pipe already has laid off 108 workers. Other mills in Pennsylvania and Texas say they may have to cut back.

Three of Minnesota’s seven working mining operations supply mills that make steel pipe, said John Rebrovich, assistant to the director of District 11 of the United Steelworkers of America.

“The last time this happened, in 2000, when the Asian recession hit, they dumped their steel here and we lost three iron ore companies in one shot,’’ he said.

Rebrovich was referring to the bankruptcy of LTV Steel, Eveleth Taconite and National Steel. National and Eveleth eventually reopened under new ownership and new names, although smaller than before. But LTV closed permanently.