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American Steal: How U.S. steelworkers lost to China


VIP Member
Jan 17, 2010
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New Jersey
With millions of Americans unemployed, the reconstruction of the San Francisco Bay Bridge is well timed to create much-needed jobs. And it has. Only the jobs are in China. Will the outsourcing of this $12 billion project deliver a death blow to the American steel industry?

In September 2010, with politicians of all stripes at all levels of government calling for programs to create jobs, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took an unusual step for a public official about to leave office: He visited a factory to conduct a pep rally for its workers. Never mind that he could not seek reelection or that the workers could not vote for him. The Terminator was passionate about their efforts:

"There was one thing that I demanded from my staff, and that was that ... we have got to put a certain amount of time aside so I can go and visit the workers that are building our Bay Bridge, so that I have a chance to say 'thank you, thank you, thank you for the great work you are doing. You have done an extraordinary job because so many of you go to work every day and do welding, painting, lifting, designing, shipping, all of those things in order to help us in California rebuild our Bay Bridge.' "

The workers erupted in applause and rushed to shake his hand, or in some cases just stand next to him, a typical crowd reaction to a Hollywood movie star turned politician.

What set the event apart was its location — the floor of the Zhenhua Heavy Industries factory, about 30 minutes outside Shanghai, China. The company has fabricated thousands of tons of steel components for the new 8-mile long bridge that connects San Francisco and Oakland. As for the army of workers laboring on the project, all are Chinese. All, that is, except, for the 200 or so Americans shipped over by the California Department of Transportation and the contractor to offer technical guidance, answer questions and inspect the finished pieces. The inspections were necessary when initial checks found as many as 65 percent of the welds failed to meet specifications. Viewed another way, it's the kind of on-the-job training that erstwhile U.S. workers do not receive and that American business, mesmerized by the potential of 1.3 billion Chinese consumers, trips over itself to give China.

At a time when 25 million Americans are unemployed, underemployed, working part time because they cannot find a full-time job, or so discouraged they gave up looking for a job; when millions are out of work for the longest period in our history; when millions are in the process of losing their homes because they were unable to keep up with mortgage payments after corporations eliminated their jobs or they were forced to absorb runaway medical bills, California provides work to thousands of Chinese laborers building components of a bridge in China to be shipped to California and assembled there like an old-fashioned Erector set.
Made in China, assembled by iconic American firm

Once the pieces arrive, they are put together by the American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa., which once upon a time erected the biggest and most striking bridges and buildings everywhere. It was a creation of John Pierpont Morgan, the financier and 19th-century architect of mergers and acquisitions, who brought together 28 of the country's largest steel fabrication and construction companies in 1900 to form American Bridge. A year later, it became a part of U.S. Steel Corp., created when Morgan acquired Carnegie Steel from Andrew Carnegie. The company even got its own town near Pittsburgh, appropriately named Ambridge, where its namesake once employed more than 10,000 people — and now none.

read more American Steal: How U.S. steelworkers lost to China | What Went Wrong: The Betrayal of The American Dream

Mr. H.

Diamond Member
Aug 19, 2009
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A warm place with no memory.
Expensive as it is, I doubt that one project is going to break the back of an entire industry.
As I recall, U.S. steel companies got some hefty protections several years ago.

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