International Vice President Charles Montgomery From Port of Houston Says U.S. Tariffs on Steel Failed in 2002 and Will Again in 2018 Cripple American Economy and Cost ILA Jobs

NORTH BERGEN, NJ – (August 1, 2018)  International Vice President Charles Montgomery from the Port of Houston knows first-hand that President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are destined to fail, will disrupted U.S. commerce and cost ILA members their jobs.

History is not on President Trump’s side when it comes to tariffs.

Nearly two decades ago, President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on steel imports and the result were disastrous.

“I remind all that in 2002, President George W. Bush used the same Article ‘Section 232’ of the 1962 Fair Trade Act to impose tariffs on imported steel,” said Brother Montgomery, a 50-year veteran of the ILA and the current president of the Houston ILA Dock and Marine Council.  “This exercise and the reaction of our trade partners had costly effects on our ILA, negatively impacting not only our ‘breakbulk’ operation, but our container cargoes as well.

“The American economy lost some 200,000 jobs as a result,” Montgomery added.

Even the threat of imposing these tariffs resulted in a decline in steel import throughout 2017.

“As we enter the last half of 2018, a continuing decline is apparent,” noted Brother Montgomery.

The reciprocal effect of trade retaliation will impact each of our ILA ports and ripple across all our job crafts and all cargoes.  During 2017 Houston ILA members worked over five hundred thousand (550K) man-hours on import steel and another three hundred thousand (300k) man-hours on export cargo loading back on these steel carrying vessels.

“I would also point out steel and aluminum in smaller shipments of 5000-7000 m/tons move via container in our port and probably many other ILA ports,” said Brother Montgomery.

Brother Montgomery has played a leading role with the ILA at the Port of Houston for several decades.  He began his ILA career in 1968 working as a longshoreman with ILA Local 1273.

He joined ILA Local 1351 in 1971 as a clerk and checker and has served on that local’s Executive Board and Contract Committee since 1971.  For 12 years, Brother Montgomery led ILA Local 1351 as its president.

Brother Montgomery noted that the ILA in the Port of Houston, as a stakeholder, works closely and shoulder to shoulder with the American Institute of International Steel (AIIS) in advancing free and responsible trade in steel.

South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District, ILA President Alan Robb invited John D. Foster, Chairman of the AIIS, to address ILA delegates at their 91st Convention in Miami, Florida two weeks ago.  Mr. Foster echoed the ILA’s concern about the damaging impact of Trump’s tariffs on shipments.

Brother Montgomery provided the graph below to illustrate how Automobile import man-hours at the Port of Houston were cut in half  nearly 48 million man-hours in 2016 to 24.5 million in 2018.

2016 Total Gross 2016 Total Hours 2017 Total Gross 2017 Total Hours 2018 Total Gross 2018 Total Hours
$1,164,193.49 47,858.850 $1,072,459.43 48,390.750 $564,850.30 24,504.050