12.13.16

SCHUMER: JOBS AT KLEIN STEEL ARE THREATENED BY WRONGHEADED EFFORT TO ROLL BACK “BUY AMERICA” PROVISION IN CONGRESS; SENATOR STRONGLY OPPOSES HOUSE EFFORT TO ROLL BACK “BUY AMERICA” LAW, VOWING TO PROTECT KLEIN STEEL JOBS IN ROCHESTER BY BLOCKING ANY ATTEMPT TO AXE LAW SET TO EXPIRE

Klein Steel Uses US-Produced Steel To Manufacture Critical Components Used In Water & Infrastructure Projects, But “Buy America” Provision That Requires US-Made Parts Is Set To Lapse Next Year – And House Majority Just Tried to Remove This Provision From Water-Sewer Bill 

With “Buy America” Provision Set To Expire, Schumer Is Pushing To Preserve & Make Permanent This Vital Provision That Protects Rochester Workers At Klein Steel 

Schumer: I Will Not Let Congress “Steel” Rochester Jobs

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited Klein Steel and pushed to preserve and strengthen the “Buy America” program that helps protect good-paying American jobs at one of Rochester’s major employers Klein Steel. Schumer explained that a provision, with wide bi-partisan support to make permanent the “Buy America” requirement for federally-funded water and sewer infrastructure projects, was initially included in the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) but was stripped from the final bill at the last minute by the House of Representatives. As a resultthe “Buy America” provision is now set to expire next year, pulling the rug out from under Klein Steel and opening the door for foreign-made steel products to undercut jobs in Rochester and across the country. Schumer said he plans to oppose any efforts in Congress that would seek to roll back this vital provision and will instead fight to strengthen this law by making the “Buy-America” provision permanent – and to require that US-produced steel components be used for water and sewer infrastructure upgrade projects. 

Schumer also announced his push to include a buy American-made steel provision in any larger infrastructure spending bill that could move in the next Congress. Schumer will say these jobs are critical to strengthening the American middle class. He will also say that this program must be both strengthened and extended to better ensure top-quality products.

“America’s economic backbone is forged out of the strongest steel known to man, and that steel is made in America,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s exactly why I’m going to keep fighting to make sure our ‘Buy America’ provisions are not weakened or rolled back. Instead this provision should be strengthened and made permanent. We need to make sure our infrastructure investments reap dividends right here in America and support high-quality products and good-paying jobs in Rochester and around the country.”

Schumer said Klein Steel currently employs 220 workers at its Rochester facility, where they manufacture products with US-made steel. Among the many products it makes with this American-made steel, Klein produces the critical components needed for water, sewer and other critical infrastructure upgrade projects. Klein manufacturers everything from critical water infrastructure components like couplings, rings and stems for water systems and water and sewer system access covers to standpipes for fire hydrants, valve shafts, mixing blades, precision stainless steel gaskets, and more. As a result, American companies like Klein can significantly benefit from “Buy America” provisions that require US-produced products be used for federally funded infrastructure upgrades and projects. Schumer said this critical provision ensures our infrastructure projects are supplied with quality products and support good-paying American jobs in places like Rochester. Schumer said the federal government should be investing in US jobs and high-quality infrastructure components rather than the foreign-made steel products that companies in countries like China sell at a lower price and reduced quality in order to undercut domestic producers.  Schumer explained without domestic content requirements, foreign companies will reap the advantages of U.S. taxpayer spending at the expense of taxpaying U.S. iron and steel producers and workers across the country, squandering the chance to support and grow U.S. manufacturers like Klein Steel in Rochester.

That’s why Schumer is fighting to keep “Buy America” provisions in place and as strong as possible. This year, Schumer helped pass in the Senate WRDA bill a provision that would have made the “Buy America” program permanent for federally funded water and sewer infrastructure projects. However, despite the bill’s wide bi-partisan support, the House Majority, during the final hours of debate on WRDA, significantly weakened important “Buy America” requirements that could have benefited Klein Steel. Specifically, the WRDA bill which passed last week, only extended “Buy America” requirements for water and sewer projects until this September, meaning that those requirements are now set to expire next year. 

Because the “Buy America” provision is now set to expire next year, Schumer said this could effectively pull the rug out from under US steel companies and open the door for foreign-made steel products to undercut American producers like Klein. Therefore, Schumer launched his push today to make permanent the “Buy America” provision as well as strengthen requirements for US-made water and sewer infrastructure projects. Schumer committed to working with his Senate colleagues, including Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Brown (D-OH), and Casey (D-PA),  to pass legislation that would strengthen those requirements, and extend them permanently, an effort that would have a direct positive impact on companies like Klein Steel, in Rochester. 

In addition, Schumer said he’d make sure there was a strong focus on buying American-made steel in any larger infrastructure spending bill that could move in the next Congress. Schumer said there is a strong interest in Congress in increasing infrastructure spending on projects on top of water and sewer infrastructure, like road and bridge construction, rural broadband upgrades and more, but a key pillar of that effort should be ensuring investments support good-paying American jobs, like those at Klein Steel. Schumer said that protecting and strengthening “Buy America” requirements for infrastructure investment can help to ensure that not only do new investments improve crumbling roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems but also that those investments have a net positive impact on manufacturing jobs throughout the country including in Upstate New York.

Schumer said Klein is currently looking to double its business over the next five years and potentially grow its workforce, but it cannot do this without strong provisions in place that level the playing field for American manufacturers. Schumer has long fought to ensure companies like Klein can continue as job-creators and economic engines in New York State. In 2009, for example, Schumer went to bat for Klein when the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) changed its definition of “domestically produced” to mean that only the secondary finishing process would have to be done in the US, which meant that foreign-made steel could enter the supply chain for armor plates being used on U.S. military equipment – a threat to businesses like Klein Steel and to the integrity of the materials used to protect our military. After fighting this proposal tooth and nail, the DOD heeded Schumer’s call and reinstated the old requirement, by publishing a new amendment to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations that alters that 2009 definition of “produced” to no longer include “quenching and tampering” of steel.

Schumer was joined by Klein Steel CEO Toddy Zyra and Klein Steel employees.

Klein Steel CEO Todd Zyra said, “Klein Steel strongly encourages lawmakers to include the Buy America provision for future infrastructure projects funded by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. By making Buy America permanent for all federal infrastructure projects, Congress will safeguard American jobs while providing the best possible US Made products for infrastructure improvements.  We appreciate Senator Schumer’s support to not only help us maintain our current sales of steel components used to supply municipalities with critical water-related infrastructure systems, but to help us grow despite the recent declines in the overall steel industry due to a plunge in prices, a flood of low-priced imports and a collapse in investments that affect demand.  While Klein Steel has maintained a year-over-year 10 percent average increase in weight shipped, we firmly believe that a Buy America provision could potentially enable us to double our average year-over-year increase.”

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