This morning in metals news, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has a tentative labor deal with Ford, the U.S. Office of Inspector General says the Section 232 tariff exclusion process needs more transparency and U.S. Steel officially completed the acquisition of a 49.9% ownership stake in Big River Steel.
UAW Announces Tentative Ford Deal
Not long after UAW members voted to ratify a new labor deal with General Motors late last week, the union now appears to be close to finalizing a deal with Ford.
In a statement this week, the UAW said it had reached a tentative agreement with Ford.
“Our national negotiators elected by their local unions have voted to recommend to the UAW-Ford National Council the proposed tentative agreement,” UAW Vice President Rory Gamble. “Our negotiating team worked diligently during the General Motors strike to maintain productive negotiations with Ford. The pattern bargaining strategy has been a very effective approach for UAW and its members to secure economic gains around salary, benefits and secured over $6 billion in major product investments in American facilities, creating and retaining over 8,500 jobs for our communities.”
Ford confirmed UAW’s announcement but did not provide further details.
“Ford can confirm the UAW’s announcement that the UAW and Ford have reached a proposed tentative agreement on a four-year contract,” said Bill Dirksen, vice president for labor affairs at Ford. “Further details will be provided at a later date.”
IG: More Transparency Needed in Section 232 Exclusions Process
U.S. importers have been applying for Section 232 tariff exclusions over the last year — a process that has come in for criticism.
Criticism has focused on the Commerce Department’s capacity to process the thousands of applications and accusations that some domestic firms are asserting an outsized influence on the Commerce Department’s decisions with respect to exclusion requests.
In a letter and management alert to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Carol Rice, assistant inspector general for audit and evaluation, shared her office’s concerns.
“Attached is a management alert regarding a lack of transparency that contributes to the appearance of improper influence in decision-making for tariff exclusion requests under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended,” Rice wrote. “Issues regarding this topic came to our attention during fieldwork for the ongoing audit of the Bureau of Industry and Security’s and International Trade Administration’s processes and procedures for reviewing and adjudicating Section 232 exclusion requests.”
The Inspector General’s office initiated an audit of the process Oct. 29, 2018. The management alert lists some of the findings unearthed by the audit, which include:
- Evidence of an “unofficial appeals process”
- Communications with an objector “prompted a change in internal review criteria”
- No documentation for off-record conversations between “interested parties and Department officials”
U.S. Steel Finalizes Big River Steel Deal
U.S. Steel has finalized its $700 million acquisition of a 49.9% ownership stake in Arkansas-based Big River Steel (initially announced Oct. 1).
“Today is a true milestone for our 118-year old company,” said David B. Burritt, president and CEO of U. S. Steel. “The closing of our investment in Big River brings us one step closer to creating a differentiated, world-competitive company that can offer our customers, employees and stockholders the ‘best of both’ integrated and mini mill steel making technology. We have done more than make an investment in the newest and most advanced flat-rolled mill in North America … we have invested in the future of U.S. Steel. We are gratified by the positive response we have received from our stakeholders recognizing the strategic rationale of this transaction since we announced it on October 1. We now look forward to executing the next phase of our strategy with our new partners at Big River.”