Manitowoc mayor tours Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry as trade war continues

Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 4:35 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry in Manitowoc feels the ripple effect of an ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

The company had to cut workers and put a planned expansion project on hold.

"The headline is tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, so you would think naturally that that would benefit a domestic producer of aluminum," said Sachin Shivaram, CEO of Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry.

Instead, Shivaram describes deteriorating business conditions for the more than 100-year-old company as a result of tariffs and changes in national trade policy.

"If who they're selling to is having problems with tariffs, they may think twice about expanding in Manitowoc," said Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels.

The "wait and see" mode comes as Congress has yet to vote on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) which replaces the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"We should have voted on that thing five months ago. It's good for the Wisconsin farmer, it's good for Wisconsin manufacturing, it's an improvement over what I thought was a flawed NAFTA deal," said U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah).

"They're trying to do surgery with a sledgehammer regardless of who it affects," said Marcos Alfaro, vice president of Local 125 United Steel Workers Union. "When you affect the American people, the working everyday people, then the whole nation is going to struggle."

Shivaram adds that the worker shortage facing Northeast Wisconsin is creating challenges for the company and the manufacturing industry. He asks lawmakers to revisit immigration policies to help boost workforce numbers.