U.S. Solar Manufacturers Welcome Support of United Steelworkers

The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), a group of seven domestic U.S. solar manufacturers led by SolarWorld Industries America Inc., welcomed the support of the United Steelworkers (USW) – with 850,000 active members, the nation’s largest union – for the coalition’s petitions for anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese imports.

In the union’s letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC), Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, said, in part: “Unfortunately, China continues to operate in a manner that is utterly inconsistent with its WTO obligations, which comes at the expense of developing our nation’s clean energy sector and creating and sustaining clean energy jobs for American workers. We urge you to vigorously apply and enforce our trade laws in these solar cases so that American workers and domestic industries can have a fair chance to compete in the U.S. market.”

According to U.S. trade statistics, Chinese exports of solar cells and panels to the United States rose more than 350 percent from 2008 to 2010. In the first eight months of 2011 alone, imports from China totaled $1.6 billion, more than in all of 2010. In fact, exports in the month of July 2011 alone exceeded those from all of 2010. CASM contends that Chinese dumping has played a significant role in causing seven U.S. solar plants to close or downsize during the past 18 months, eliminating thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly, in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

“Manufacturing is the fuel that drives our economic engine,” said Gordon Brinser, U.S. president of SolarWorld, the leader of CASM and the named petitioner in the case. “Members of the Steelworkers Union understand that the key to American economic growth is healthy competition. Their support for U.S. trade actions that keep quality, high-paying jobs in America and allow American companies to compete fairly in the global marketplace is greatly appreciated.”

The next step in the case is an ITC staff hearing on Nov. 8, 2011. The Commerce Department is expected to announce whether it will initiate investigations on Nov. 9. If initiated, the investigations will take about 12 months to complete.

Read a copy of the entire letter on the CASM website: www.americansolarmanufacturing.org.

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