Steel tariffs cause Iowa factory to scale back production
DEWITT, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa factory has laid off workers, reduced production and delayed expansion plans in response to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration on steel imported from Canada.
The Black Cat Wear Parts factory in DeWitt has confirmed temporary layoffs of 10 of its 17 production employees this week, the Quad-City Times reported.
Plant Manager Josh Daniel said he hopes to rehire the employees, depending on future negotiations within the trade dispute. Canada began imposing retaliatory tariffs this month on $12.6 billion in U.S. goods.
“In my personal opinion, I would ask for free trade, especially among neighbors,” Daniel said. “It is a global economy and supply chains are linked from one country to another country. And to put restrictions and taxes on that, especially among neighbors, is just wrong.”
Black Cat, a Canada-based company, produces and distributes construction blades and other wear parts for mining and road maintenance. The DeWitt plant process steel from Canada, said Rob Forgrave, vice president of production management.
“In our particular industry, U.S. manufacturers are getting hurt because steel is mostly only available in Canada,” Forgrave said. “So those companies have no choice but to either move jobs or pay more.”
The DeWitt factory has scaled back about 80 percent of its production capacity and is moving around 90 tons (82 metric tons) of monthly steel manufacturing to Canada, Daniel said. The company chose to move the factory’s steel production to avoid paying the U.S. tariff, he said.
The tariffs have also halted the company’s expansion plan, Daniel said. The DeWitt branch had purchased another location this year.
“There were some growth opportunities we have been looking at, with new opportunities for manufacturing in DeWitt,” Daniel said. “But the capital equipment that was planned, that’s been put on the back burner a bit until the tariff situation resolves itself.”
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com