Steel has become an integral part of the American economy. But as a large portion of the sector is being “sold off to the highest bidder,” members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union are sounding off over the transaction.
“It was the workers that drove the force for the profits to be made, and at the end of the day, they sold off to the highest bidder to line their own pockets, and left these guys kind of holding the bag with an uncertain future,” Local 1219 President Michael Evanovich told FOX Business’ Lydia Hu in an interview on “Mornings with Maria” Thursday.
In December, U.S. Steel announced that it would be selling the company to the world’s No. 4 steelmaker, Japan’s Nippon Steel. The deal was valued at $14.9 billion, a 40% premium to what U.S. Steel’s stock was at the time.
And while shareholders have seen positive returns due to the merger, union members are expressing concerns about their job security and a future with a foreign company.
“I feel like they already haven’t put America first, by selling out to a foreign entity,” USW Local 1557 President Don Furko said.
U.S. Steel said in a February statement that Nippon Steel’s investment “will strengthen the American steel industry for the benefit of American customers, employees, and communities.”
Nippon Steel also backed the original claims it would uphold and honor the union’s collective bargaining agreement, promising “no layoffs or facility closures as a result of this transaction, we will not offshore existing U.S. production capacity, and U.S. Steel’s headquarters will remain in Pittsburgh,” a spokesperson noted to FOX Business.
Last year, U.S. Steel issued layoff warnings to 1,000 employees of its Granite City, Illinois, mill, saying they expect to fire 60% of workers due to indefinite idling of iron and steelmaking operations at the facility.
“You’ve got these small businesses that depend on that income to come in, and these businesses want these people to come in and spend their money,” Edith Arnold, a woman whose relative has worked at the mill for more than 30 years, told local KTVI. “You shut them down, what are they going to do?”
The White House in December said the deal deserves “serious scrutiny,” whereas former President Donald Trump said he would block the acquisition altogether.
“We put big tariffs on steel. I saved the steel companies. And now Japan is buying U.S. Steel,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Mornings Futures” this week. “U.S. Steel: you know what a name that is? That’s the most important name. Fifty years ago, there was no company like U.S. Steel. Now that Japan is buying it, I don’t think I’d let that deal go through.”
FOX Business’ Pilar Arias contributed to this report.