Teamsters urge Commerce Department to reject newsprint tariffs

The Teamsters Union, which has expressed support of President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, has urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to reconsider the proposed tariffs on newsprint.

James P. Hoffa

James P. Hoffa

“By our analysis, this proposed tariff could affect hundreds of Teamster families … and threaten tens of thousands more jobs across the country among the pressman, mailers and drivers who are proud Teamster members in the North American printing and publishing industries,” Teamsters President James P. Hoffa wrote in a letter on June 20. “I take this opportunity to remind you that I and the leadership of the Teamsters union support the other recent investigations and controversial tariffs that this Administration has undertaken and assessed — namely the new tariffs on steel and aluminum …”

> Read Hoffa’s letter to Ross

> Read Hoffa’s letter to Trump

Teamsters is one of the country’s most powerful labor unions, representing 1.2 million workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico — 30,000 of which work in the printing and publishing industry.

Preliminary tariffs against Canadian producers of uncoated groundwood paper were first imposed in January and increased in March, prompting an increase in the price of newsprint by more than 30 percent over the last six months.

Wilbur Ross

Wilbur Ross

The investigation was initiated by the North Pacific Paper Co. (NORPAC), a small Washington State mill with no other pulp or paper operations in the United States. NORPAC claims it is a victim of “dumping” or underpricing by Canadian paper producers, which allegedly benefit from unfair government support. In reality, the decline in the U.S. newsprint market is due to a shift over the last decade from print to digital distribution of news and the subsequent closure of operations that produce newsprint.

Final determinations are expected in August by the International Trade Commission, following a July 17 hearing, and in September by the Commerce Department.