© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Steelworker Union Leader On Why He Supports Trump's Tariffs On Imports


President Trump made good today on his pledge to protect the U.S. steel and aluminum industries. He ordered steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and he invited workers from those industries to watch him sign that order. One of those workers is Scott Sauritch. He's the leader of the Steelworkers 2227 local union in West Mifflin, Pa.


SCOTT SAURITCH: My father, during the '80s, he lost his job due to imports coming into this country. And I just want to tell you what that does to a man with six kids is devastating. So I never forgot that looking into his eyes in my household what that does to a family. You hear about it, but when you're actually involved and it impacts you, it's - it'll never leave you.

KELLY: And Scott Sauritch joins us now. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

SAURITCH: Yes, ma'am, go ahead. How are you?

KELLY: I'm well, thank you. And I thank you for joining us. What was it like to be at the White House and tell that story and have the president respond to it?

SAURITCH: I - it was - I still don't have words for it. I can tell you it was unexpected. I didn't plan to be there.

KELLY: Yeah.

SAURITCH: You know, they just - the steelworkers from the International said we were on a mission. And they said, gather up the troops - and I was one of them - we're going to D.C. You know, it's a possibility that it could be signed. You know, we didn't know if it was going to happen or not. And so, hey, I had no idea where I was going to be and how it was going to go down. But, you know, I'm still - I'm tickled pink.

KELLY: Yeah.

SAURITCH: And I'm very, very happy.

KELLY: I gather it was quite the scene - a lot of Cabinet officials and men and women wearing blue jeans...

SAURITCH: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

KELLY: ...And hard hats all packed in. Did they tell you to bring the hard hats or did they pass them out there?

SAURITCH: Well, (laughter) you know, here's - yeah, we probably could've. But, you know, we just brought coming down in regular...

KELLY: Worked itself out.

SAURITCH: ...Union attire. Yeah, our union attire.

KELLY: But tell me why you think tariffs like this will help people like you.

SAURITCH: Well, I think if you've got the upper 1 percent, they don't have a clue what the engine of society, the middle-class people, what we do. And with that being said, I can tell you that I've seen as I'm - you're going up and down the valley where we live the compromised communities that all were economically filled with steelworkers that were doing very well. And to see the communities struggling - now you get a shot in the arm like this. It adds more security. And it opens up some great opportunity for many people. Maybe many people with no hope, but especially for Granite City.

KELLY: May I ask you in the short time we have left, what about the the other side? Do you hear the fears that people have raised about - that this could spark a trade war?

SAURITCH: I - you know, let's face it. Any time there's something going on in one way you hear stories and propaganda on another source. But I think this all needs action right now. And let me tell you something. For - if anything had to happen, this change in the steel industry, this attention what's going on right now had to happen.

KELLY: Right. Right. Right. This...

SAURITCH: For the infrastructure and the safety and security it needed to happen.

KELLY: That's Scott Sauritch. He is head of the Steelworkers 2227 local union in West Mifflin, Pa. Mr. Sauritch, thanks so much.

SAURITCH: Thank you so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.