Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Labor leaders say thousands of jobs are at risk due to excess steel being dumped into the U.S. market. Monday on the Iron Range a rally was held to demand action from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Organizers estimate over 2,000 people from the mining and steel sectors on the range were in attendance. The rally was part of the national Save Our Steel Jobs campaign.
Minnesota taconite mining and steel jobs could be at risk if something isn't done to regulate foreign steel products being dumped into the U.S. at prices below market value. The issue has brought a lot of attention to the Iron Range.
"Today's enemies are not the companies, it's the countries who dump their steel on the U.S. to press your prices and take away your jobs,” Governor - (DFL) Minnesota, Mark Dayton, said.
Iron workers flooded in by the busload to express their concern. With iron ore and steel being the foundation for the economy on the Iron Range, there was no lack of passion at the rally.
"President Obama, when you get back to Washington, D.C., sit down with the Department of Commerce and put tariffs on South Korean steel!" Minnesota Senator, Tom Bakk, said.
Oil pipelines being built across Minnesota and the rest of the country are large consumers of steel and it's the oil country tubular goods being shipped in from South Korea that are the largest concern.
"We need the pipes to be safe pipes, be the highest quality pipes, and we need the pipes to be made in the U.S.A.” Senator (Minnesota Dist 6), David Tomassoni, said.
A big message was sent to legislators by people at the rally as they used their cell phones to text their demand for regulations to be enforced, but a text message wasn't the only message legislators will receive.
"People signed letters here today saying it's time that our elected officials do the right thing. So we're going to be sending copies to every single congressional person, the Department of Commerce as well as the POTUS in the white house saying stick up for the American people for a change,” Asst. Dir. United Steelworkers Dist. 11, John Rebrovich, said.
The U.S. Department of Commerce is currently hearing a trade case about the issue. A decision is expected by mid–July.
The Range was the final stop in the national Save Our Steel Jobs campaign which included stops in Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Alabama.
Layoffs have already occurred at U.S. as a result of steel dumping. Steel operations in Pennsylvania and Texas and it could have a ripple effect on the mining that occurs on the Iron Range.
United Steelworkers say a similar situation occurred nearly twelve years ago, with devastating effects on many workers.