A local teen is one of just five people speaking at a steel rally in Washington today.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
CHAMPION -- A Champion High School junior has a message for Congress -- steel dumping hurts.
Roseann Holmes, 17, should know. Her father, Thomas, was laid off from CSC Ltd. in March and she is concerned about how to pay for college. She hopes to be a crime scene analyst.
She was to take her story to Washington, D.C., where she and four others were to address a large rally today outside the Capitol building.
She was chosen by supporters of the American steel industry to tell lawmakers and others about the real-world effects of cheap foreign steel.
"Hopefully, they'll listen," Holmes said. "It affects a lot of people."
The rally is designed to support the Steel Revitalization Act, which is proposed legislation that would reduce foreign imports, strengthen the Steel Loan Guarantee Program and protect retirees' health-care benefits. The steel industry believes that foreign countries are selling steel at prices below the production cost, which is known as dumping.
Other attendees: One of the other speakers was to be U.S. Rep. Peter Viscoosky, D-Ind., who introduced the bill. Others expected to attend were Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Leo Girard, president of the United Steelworkers of America, and John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO.
Supporters of the legislation also were to deliver 500,000 letters to lawmakers.
The rally comes one day after President Bush decided to initiate a trade case that would impose sharp restrictions on steel imports to protect the steel industry. The Commerce Department is to bring the case before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the government agency that must give its approval for import protections.
Susan Papp, a spokeswoman for the groups organizing the rally, said she isn't sure how many people would attend, but said people were coming from around the country.
Twelve busloads of people from Cleveland and two busloads from Warren were to attend. Included were steel workers and their families and retirees.
Surprised: Holmes said it's surprising to her that she is a featured speaker at a national event.
"I'm kind of quiet," she said.
Holmes isn't on a speech team, but she has had speech classes. She also spoke at a local steel rally last month in Warren.
Her message was the same: Foreign steel imports are taking away American jobs and hurting American families.
Local union officials asked her to speak at the first rally after her government teacher suggested to them that she would be a good person to illustrate the problems caused by imports.
Her father is one of more than 1,000 employees who were laid off from CSC when the mill closed this spring. The company is trying to find a buyer to reopen the mill.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection, saying that illegal imports of steel had forced steel prices too low for it to compete. Nationwide, about 23,000 workers have been laid off as 18 steel companies have filed for bankruptcy.
While Holmes wants lawmakers to know the personal hurt these layoffs have had, she said people need not worry about her family.
"We're doing OK. We will make it."