NY State fed cheers political leaders’ OK of state ‘Buy American’ steel and iron

ALBANY, N.Y. —The New York State AFL-CIO cheered a June 22 agreement between Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders to require the state use U.S.-made structural iron and steel for New York roads and bridges, starting April 1.

The legislation could pump significant money into U.S. steel plants, as the state budget calls for spending at least $677 million on new highways alone, plus $564 million to reconstruct expressways around JFK Airport and $264 million to continue replacing the current Koszciusko Bridge with a steel-cable-stayed westbound bridge. The eastbound span is already built.

“This is a victory for all New Yorkers,” said state federation President Mario Cilento. “Requiring American-made iron and steel products for New York’s roads and bridges is a wise investment for the future of our economy.

“Buy American will create and maintain solid middle-class jobs, strengthen local economies and give a much-needed shot in the arm to the manufacturing industry right here at home in New York,” he added. “It ensures our hard-earned tax dollars are not sent overseas and are invested back into our own workforce.”

Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Robach, R-Rochester, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, and Majority Leader Joseph Morrelle, D-Rochester, announced the agreement, which covers state road and bridge projects costing at least $1 million. “The Buy American Act will create a level playing field for U.S. manufacturers, protect U.S. jobs & ensure a stronger economic future for NYS,” Morrelle tweeted.

“New York State road and bridge capital projects will be made with American iron and steel, making certain the materials bought by New York taxpayers will be of the highest quality and are made here at home by American workers,” Robach said.

“On projects across the state, including projects at LaGuardia (Airport), Bayonne Bridge and Verrazano Narrows (Bridge), inferior Chinese steel was used, often having to be replaced soon after. With this legislation, only the highest grade material will be used on important New York infrastructure projects, resulting in jobs for American and New York workers.”

The Steelworkers have highlighted the use – and the inadequacy – of Chinese-made steel in U.S. infrastructure projects. The most-infamous case forced replacements of huge sections of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge more than five years ago.

Cuomo “understands the importance of investing in our skilled workforce and sending a strong statement about the commitment we have as a state to companies that manufacture and operate here, and hire New York workers,” Cilento said.

There are some exceptions, the legislation says: If doing so would “result in the loss, reduction or inability to obtain federal funding,” when an “immediate emergency” hits, when there’s not enough U.S.-made structural iron and steel available, or when buying it “would increase the cost of the contract by an unreasonable amount.”

Source: PAI