September 5, 2018/Press Release

ICYMI: Post-Dispatch: Mood is ‘pretty dismal’ in Poplar Bluff as nail maker pleads for tariff exemption

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Yesterday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an update on Mid-Continent Nail Corporation, one of southeast Missouri’s largest employers and the last major U.S. nail manufacturer. Mid-Continent has already suffered over a hundred layoffs because of the Administration’s steel tariffs, and said in a press conference Tuesday that the mood around the plant is “pretty dismal” given that it “could be shut down in the next 20 to 30 days.”

While Senator Claire McCaskill has advocated for Mid-Continent Nail to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and has visited the company to speak with employees, Josh Hawley continues to support the trade war as it destroys Missouri jobs.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Labor Day has passed and Mid-Continent Nail, the Poplar Bluff, Mo., manufacturer that’s been devastated by President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs, is still in business.

…[Chris Pratt, Mid-Continent’s operations manager], who spoke on a conference call with reporters, said the plant is down to 335 workers from 500 three months ago. It laid off 60 people in June after the tariff took effect, but more recent job losses have been by attrition.

“We’re losing more skilled workers each and every week due to the uncertainty,” Pratt said.

People are leaving for jobs that are more secure, he explained. “Day to day here it’s pretty dismal,” Pratt said. “I walk the plant and look at people’s faces and they all look at me with a look that says, ‘Do I have a job tomorrow?'”

…Mid-Continent imports steel wire from Mexico and turns it into nails. Competitors from such countries as China, Turkey and Oman are now selling nails in the U.S. for less than Mid-Continent pays to buy wire.

“That’s a disaster for us but a windfall for the foreign companies,” Pratt said.

When Mexico was hit with the steel tariff in June, some observers thought Trump was using it as leverage in negotiations for a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexican officials have said, however, that the deal they reached with Trump last week doesn’t include any relief from the steel tariff.

That leaves the exclusion process as Mid-Continent’s best, and perhaps only, hope. Other companies have also complained that the process is slow and arbitrary and gives too much weight to steel-industry objections.

Mid-Continent says its sales fell by 80 percent after it raised prices to cover part of the tariff. It’s a situation that can’t endure much longer, Pratt emphasized.

…”Can I tell you we will last to the end of September? No. If we don’t get immediate relief, we could be shut down in the next 20 to 30 days.”

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