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Union leaders bank on Trump's promise to bring back steel, coal jobs

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Donald Trump took the stage in Pittsburgh last April with the promise to bring back jobs to the Steel City, and the United Steelworkers union has high hopes for the president-elect to make good on that promise. 
 
“We have a lot of steel facilities not working at 100 percent capacity. We have a lot of mills that are shut down or idled with people on layoffs,” said United Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard. 
 
At present, approximately 25 to 30 percent of steel in the United States is foreign steel. Gerard said the key is getting tough on China. He said China has been manipulating its currency, so its products are cheaper on the world market and subsidizing its steel industry. 
 
“If they were playing by the rules, they wouldn’t be able to get the stuff in here,” Gerard said. 
 
Today, the manufacturing of products from stoves to washing machines have moved offshore. Gerard said if the U.S. brings back manufacturing jobs, the country can bring back steel jobs. 
 
But not everyone is so confident. University of Pittsburgh professor James Craft said the heady days of the steel industry are a bygone era. 
 
“We won’t see the coal barges, oil barges, up and down the river. That won’t be the case,” Craft said. 
 
He said what people will see are mini-mills and predicted there will be jobs but not quite as many. 
 
“Technology has increased, and that means we don’t need as many people to produce steel in any given situation,” Craft said. 
 
Since Trump was elected president, several major U.S. companies have announced plans to add jobs in America, including Pittsburgh-area Bayer Corp. Bayer announced new jobs and a spending pledge after a meeting with the president-elect. 
 
However, CNBC reported that the pledge is roughly what Bayer & Monsato is already spending. Trump responded on Wednesday to the report, taking credit for the jobs and spending and calling the CNBC report , "fake news."

Channel 11 News will be in Washington, D.C., as Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Join Katherine Amenta and Lisa Sylvester on WPXI for complete coverage of Friday’s Inauguration. 

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