As U.S. Steel Industry Rebounds, ‘Women of Steel’ March To Protest Wage Gap

In Pittsburgh, the United Steelworkers (USW) union hosted the 2016 International Women of Steel Conference, organized to coincide with International Women’s Day. During the conference, attendees donned Rosie the Riveter bandanas, and 1,000 United Steel Workers marched to stand up for “women’s rights at work, including equal pay and fair family leave.”

While many people might not imagine women as a stereotypical steelworker, the Women of Steel organization makes up an important part of the USW, still an influential force in U.S. politics and labor. Female steelworkers have worked alongside their male peers for decades.

“We’ve come a long way, believe it or not, but we have a long way to go,” said Sharon Brady-Patil, vice president of USW Local 1088 at Point Park. “It’s as true here as any third world country, when women rise, families rise and communities rise. That’s the way it works.”

LeAnn Foster, the assistant to USW International President Leo W. Gerard, called for the U.S. Congress to pass paid maternity leave legislation.

“We have a thousand sisters gathered here,” Foster said at the conference. “We’re not going to take it anymore. We have the right to paid maternity leave, not set by the whims of a corporation but set by legislation.”

The U.S. steel industry has suffered in recent decades because of tough competition from countries like China. Plus, two out of every three tons of new steel are made from recycled material, making steel one of the most recycled materials on the planet. The American Iron and Steel Institute estimates that up to 88% of steel is recycled worldwide.

But in 2016, the domestic steel industry is showing signs of a resurgence as the Chinese economy stumbles. This March, financial news outlet Seeking Alpha reported:

The lumbering U.S. steel industry could be laying the foundation for a renaissance of sorts, thanks in no small part to federal trade officials who finally cracked down on evidence of massive dumping by China and other foreign producers.

The shares of some of the major U.S. producer stocks wasted no time in vaulting skyward following the stiff tariffs announced March 1 by the Department of Commerce. But there appears still to be ample room for more upside in domestic steel’s prospects in coming months.

The Chinese economy has been struggling lately, and slow growth coupled with years of overproduction have taken their toll on the Chinese steel industry. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Commerce is investigating a number of cases that show evidence of massive dumping and illegal imports from Chinese companies. Now that the DOC is finally cracking down on Chinese dumping, many traders are eagerly purchasing U.S. steel stocks.

While Women of Steel were marching in Pittsburgh, the USW welcomed the news of the DOC crackdown. And they have plenty of reason to be optimistic. According to Seeking Alpha, “New anti-dumping duties on foreign steel makers are leveling the domestic playing field for the first time in years.”

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