·  USW@Work magazine, Spring 2022

Steelworkers argue landmark international trade case

A formal complaint filed by the USW on behalf of thousands of Canadian workers has led to an investigation by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) into alleged dumping and subsidizing of mattresses produced in China.

The investigation represents a landmark in Canada, as the first union-led trade complaint in the country. Canada’s trading partners, notably the United States, have long allowed unions to file anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases to protect domestic employment.

“Workers – and their unions – are in the best position to know when unfair imports are being dumped into the market and costing Canadians their jobs,” said USW National Director Marty Warren.

“Experience has taught us that we can’t necessarily rely on corporations or governments to stand up for Canadian workers. As this case demonstrates, Canadian workers, like their counterparts in the U.S., need to be able to independently file cases,” Warren said.

The ground-breaking trade complaint was filed jointly by the USW and Restwell Sleep Products, a key producer of mattresses in Canada. The case is being argued on behalf of Canadian workers and producers hit hard by a flood of dumped and subsidized Chinese-produced mattresses entering the country over the past three years.

The USW in the United States won a similar case three years ago, which confirmed Chinese-produced mattresses were dumped into the U.S. at less than the cost of production, leading to additional duties of up to 192% on those products.

The U.S. crackdown on dumped Chinese mattresses caused imports into Canada to soar, leading to the USW complaint of dumping into Canada. The CBSA is investigating the alleged dumping to determine whether duties should be imposed by the Canadian government.

“For Canadian workers to sleep soundly at night, they need protection from unfair trade practices,” said Warren. “Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian government need to understand that there’s no room for unfairly traded goods in the bedrooms of Canadians.”

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