December 4, 2003

Cleveland Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing Draws More than 200 People, Three Members of Congress

December 04, 2003

Cleveland Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing Draws More than 200 People, Three Members of Congress
MSCI Pro-Manufacturing Program Moves into Second Phase

CHICAGO, Illinois, December 4, 2003 – With three members of Congress in attendance, about 200 people were on hand in Cleveland Tuesday for the fifth MSCI Town Hall Meeting on Manufacturing.

The meetings, sponsored by MSCI chapters, raise awareness of the prolonged crisis facing North American durable goods manufacturers because of Asian currency manipulation, unequal enforcement of global fair trade provisions, rising health care and litigation costs and other factors that have led to the loss of 2.8 million manufacturing jobs in the last three years.

“With the completion of the Northern Ohio Chapter’s meeting this week, more than 1,000 people have attended our Town Hall Meetings since August,” said Bob Weidner, MSCI’s president and chief executive officer. “As important, Washington seems to have gotten the message, especially as it applies toChina and its currency. Legislation has been filed in both the House and Senate, and the President and secretaries of the treasury and commerce have all told our Asian trading partners about the immediate need for free and fair markets in currencies and a level playing field in international trade.”

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Town Hall Meetings have been held in Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Additional meetings have been scheduled for January 29 in Philadelphia and February 17 in Kansas City. Meetings are also in the planning stages for Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Northern California, Boston, and Texas.

In addition, Weidner said, the Central States Chapter (Chicago) plans to take the next step in the advocacy program on January 13 when it sponsors “Agenda 2004:  The MSCI Manufacturing Plan.”

“The idea is to hold a town hall-style meeting to discuss specific policy positions that MSCI should pursue in 2004 to keep our manufacturing momentum going,” said Marty Napoli, president of NAPCO Steel and of the Central States Chapter. “We are far from done with the question of Asian currency manipulation, but we must also press our case for ways to contain spiraling health care and litigation costs, adopt policies that encourage and reward innovation, and reduce the high cost of complying with government regulations.”

Weidner said the Central States meeting will help MSCI members everywhere focus on policy and legislative issues that can significantly improve the manufacturing environment.

The three members of Congress who attended the Cleveland meeting, all Ohio Democrats, were Marcy Kaptur, of the 9th Congressional District, Sherrod Brown, 13th District, and Tim Ryan, 17th District.

“The question we address at meetings like this is what kind of country we want to live in,” said Ryan, who citied the crisis in durable goods manufacturing as an important national security issue.

Brown said that there is a strong relationship between the Congressional vote in 2000 to grantChina permanent normal trade relations status and “to what’s happening in manufacturing today.” Now, he said, we’re at the point where “Congress needs to reward manufacturing that’s done in the U.S.”

Kaptur said much more work needs to be done to define better the obligations that participating parties assume under global trade agreements, including all related currency obligations. “Are we going to be a nation, or only a market?” she asked.

Business leaders who presented at the Cleveland meeting included Bill Hickey, president of Lapham-Hickey Steel Corp. and an expert on global currency issues; Michael Siegal, chairman and chief executive officer of Olympic Steel; Mitch Hecht, vice president, external affairs, of International Steel Group; and David Pritchard, chairman, A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co.

Pritchard, whose company makes precision-formed metal products for the automobile, truck and agricultural equipment markets, displayed a small metal part and named the Rose employees who are directly involved in making it. He also discussed the part in terms of its value as a source of taxes – in both cases, demonstrating that the well-being of manufacturing has consequences that reach far beyond the interests of the company itself.

“The number of industries and diversity of companies represented at the meeting shows the depth and breadth of our commitment to do all we can to save our manufacturing base,” said Bob Barna, eastern regional director for Tubular Steel, Inc., and Northern Ohio Chapter president. “We were gratified that three members of Congress showed their concern about manufacturing by joining us.”

Founded in 1907, the Metals Service Center Institute has more than 350 members operating from about 1,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and elsewhere around the world. Together, MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 50 million tons of steel, aluminum and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. Metals service centers distribute metals and provide first-stage fabrication services.

Contact:   Jon Kalkwarf, 773-867-1300 x105