Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee To Be Built With U.S. Steel?

Zielinski's ordinance requires this for developers getting city funds.

By - May 8th, 2017 04:57 pm
Northwestern Mutual Tower Signage. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Northwestern Mutual Tower Signage. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Ald. Tony Zielinski introduced legislation to the common council that would make it mandatory for any construction project in the city with public financing use U.S. manufactured steel.

Zielinski said the ordinance is consistent with his longstanding “Buy American philosophy.”

Zielinski has been behind a number of ordinances mandating the city purchase goods manufactured in the states. Notably, he was behind the ordinance requiring the city to purchase U.S. manufactured cars, as well as a highly publicized effort to require police uniforms not be made by companies that traffic in sweatshop labor.

Now that development in Milwaukee is booming greater than any other time in recent history, Zielinski said he hopes to capitalize on that.

“If some company wants to make more money by taking the jobs overseas, I’m sorry I disagree with that,” he said.

Under the legislation, any steel or iron products “incorporated into the building or other structure” of a development funded “in whole or in part” with public funds must use steel produced in the U.S.

And by “produced,” Zielinski means that every stage of production “from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings,” as the ordinance text reads, must occur in the U.S. Also, anything manufactured in the U.S. using “semi-finished steel or iron of foreign origin” won’t count as domestically produced under this legislation.

“The most important thing to me is the American worker,” Zielinski said.

The legislation is assigned to the Milwaukee Common Council‘s Community and Economic Development Committee, it next convenes May 18. Zielinski said he doesn’t currently have any data about where the steel used in Milwaukee development projects comes from.

“I’m still in the process of getting more information before it comes up,” he said. “I want to hear what everybody has say.”

Zielinski said he is still meeting with and talking to parties in the construction and development industry.

But added that the local United Steelworkers is, “100 percent in support of this resolution.” A United Steelworkers representative could not be reached for comment.

Zielinski went before the Milwaukee County Labor Council to stump for his new ordinance and asked union workers to call their local alderman in support of the legislation. A few in the crowd spoke up in support of what Zielinski presented.

“What’s been killing working class people is shipping these jobs overseas where they can exploit workers for economic gains,” he said. “So I’m doing everything I can on the city level.”

Categories: Politics, Real Estate

13 thoughts on “Milwaukee To Be Built With U.S. Steel?”

  1. mbradleyc says:

    Zielinski is naive. Business isn’t measured in profit. It is measured in margins. The higher the cost, the harder it is to make margin. He’ll drive a lot of companies out of business. Then what will there be? It’s already becoming difficult to find enough workers and materials to build everything being proposed.

  2. Joe says:

    “Zielinski said he doesn’t currently have any data about where the steel used in Milwaukee development projects comes from.”

    There’s the Tony I know.

    Hopefully he’s positioning himself for a run at higher office so he can stop embarrassing my aldermanic district.

  3. Republican Fraud says:

    Why is this even an issue, I thought dictator Trump and the creepy Republican Party already made it the law of the land to buy only American steel. That was part of the “Make America Great Again” mantra.

  4. David Ciepluch says:

    Every dollar spent on a local level for services and materials has a churn of another $2. All efforts should be made to source materials and labor locally. It spurs the local and regional economy.

    This is an economic fact often lost on many and rarely discussed.

    For example, Wisconsin spends over $13 Billion annually for importing energy. This is money lost to our state. Consumer owned energy efficiency, solar electric, and thermal mass storage could reduce this by more than half saving consumers billions annually and spurring the local and regional economy with thousands of labor jobs.

    The State could take a proactive approach by making local sourced materials and labor for renovations and new construction, exempt from sales taxes.

  5. Phill Modjeski says:

    In case you haven’t noticed US steel industry all but shut down 30 years ago.

  6. Barbara says:

    Graham: U.S. Steel is a company. I think you mean American steel, right? There are other steel companies in America, of course.

  7. hereiam says:

    @David you planning to open a local steel mill?

  8. Tim says:

    Well the Milwaukee Blacksmith is sure gonna be busy!!

    Joking aside, why are we paying higher prices so steel mills in Penn & Ohio work an extra shift? Let’s pass this right after they stop importing beer.

  9. AG says:

    So we’ll be seeing an even greater ratio of stick built infill for the majority of our future projects. Excellent, I didn’t like skyscrapers anyway.

  10. JPKMKE says:

    Trump’s similar order requiring American steel to be used on the pipeline turned out to be infeasible because most of the steel was already purchased and was sitting on site. Another interesting parallel was Obama’s reason for halting the pipeline construction in the first place. It was not to support native American causes, it was to support the railroad lobby which transports the oil (although it was positioned as the federal government supporting a native American cause). By requiring American steel in Milwaukee does it mean the Common Council supports steel worker jobs and not railroad and shipping jobs?

  11. Rich says:

    @AG, we could’ve had at least that, right up until the point you gave Tony the idea to only use American grown trees for lumber. 🙂

  12. john norquist says:

    Does Tony know that no significant amount of steel is manufactured in Wisconsin? Forcing American made steel on Milwaukee businesses will raise their costs. It happened before. In 2002 President George W Bush pandered to American steel manufacturers by filing dumping charges against steel from Canada, the EEC and Brazil. The action disrupted manufacturing at Milwaukee Wrought Washer (Bayview) and Milwaukee Paper Machinery on the northwest side because they use steel for some of their processes that isn’t even made in the US. Hundreds of workers were laid off. If Tony were an alderman from Gary, Indiana his proposal might make sense, but Milwaukee and Wisconsin have nothing to gain from being forced to buy American steel. BTW, over 70% of steel purchased in the US is made in the US. There is no import problem with steel. US steel manufacturers want trade restrictions for one reason- so they can jack up prices on their American customers.

  13. David Ciepluch says:

    @hereiam – I am aware that steel making is not found in Milwaukee. There are a number of suppliers in Wisconsin. Even they may not be able to supply the kind of steel needed on specific projects.

    My comments are that we should emphasis buying local labor and materials if possible, and it is best economically for the local and regional economy. It is also the most efficient option.

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