The Staten Island Verrazano Bridge will now have a “Made in China” label like a mounting list of other products in the U.S., after the Metropolitan Transportation Agency voted to repair the bridge with Chinese steel.
The Agency outsourced the $235 million project to china for its high-tech, orthotropic design, though American steel companies protested the decision. United Steelworkers has also reached out to New York’s AFL-CIO to champion support from other labor organizations.
“There’s a lot of New Yorkers who would be thrilled to work on this project,” United Steelworkers’ Vice President Tom Conway said. “It should be American made.”
Conway added that New York State has lost half of its manufacturing capacity in the past 20 years, partly because of “irresponsible” decisions by public agencies like the MTA.
Conway believes the real issue is money, not resources or skill. If the MTA hires an American agency, the job would cost $30 an hour per worker. If the steel is produced in China, each worker would cost the agency $10 to $15 a day. As a result, American workers would cost the MTA an additional $100 million.
The agency defended its actions by promising to hire American workers to assemble the bridge’s upper deck, and asserting the rarity of orthotropic steel in American industry.
However, Conway was still skeptical of the MTA’s decision.
“We found two in Pennsylvania that bid on the project and wanted to do it,” Conway said. “It is incomprehensible that the MTA would award a $235 million project to China when there are American workers ready, willing and able to perform the task.”