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Reduced in Scale, Steel-Makers Still Forge Coalitions

An army of nearly 400,000 workers made the steel industry a powerhouse in the 1980s. With a current workforce a third that size, the industry needs allies to widen its reach in Washington, D.C.

The 6-year-old Alliance for American Manufacturing serves as the industry’s bridge builder on a broad agenda, representing the United Steelworkers and big producers such as ArcelorMittal and the U.S. Steel Corp.

Scott Paul, the group’s president, says the AAM looks to build coalitions with other unions and industries.

“Our mission is strengthening American manufacturing. It’s not steel specific. We try to fill gaps where other people aren’t talking about things,” he said.

For example, Paul backs a bill to allow unfair-trade complaints that target alleged currency manipulation by China and other countries. He also supports a proposal by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to give tax breaks to companies that move jobs to the U.S. and to deny write-offs for offshore moving expenses.

Paul says such incentives help to drive growth in a slow economy. With a current combined workforce of 154,000 workers, steel-makers had 96 million tons in shipments in 2012, up from 84 million tons shipped in 1980, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

In the Senate, the AAM has worked with a new bipartisan steel caucus formed last spring by Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Sessions and other Republicans oppose the Stabenow bill but align with the AAM on the currency manipulation plan. “A renaissance of American manufacturing starts with steel,” Sessions said.

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