Tariffs have become the major topic of news in the media and halls of Congress. There are pros and cons among both political parties concerning the value of imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. No matter what happens, the glory days of the U.S. steel industry will never return.
As a research engineer at Homer Research Center of the Bethlehem Steel Company for over 22 years, I witnessed with great sadness the deterioration of a once proud company. In 1953 a 115-day nationwide steel strike devastated the industry and resulted in the U.S. becoming a net importer of steel. Before 1953, steel company employment was slightly less than 2 million, but over time employment has decreased to about 140,000.
I can cite one of the many factors for the decline of the steel industry. Prior to my employment at Bethlehem Steel Company, I worked for Hoover Ball and Bearing Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hoover had 3 U.S. suppliers of ball and bearing steel. Hoover failed to sign lower price, longer term contracts with these U.S. steel producers, which resulted in Hoover seeking steel sources outside the U.S. Hoover came into contact with Ugine Steel Company in France, who supplied steel worldwide, but never to the U.S. I was sent to the Ugine Steel Plant to inspect and certify the quality of the steel desired by Hoover. Unfortunately, this situation has occurred in many other industries.