Ironworkers president: Trump tariffs having a ‘mixed effect’ on union members

Ironworkers union chief Eric Dean said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE’s tariffs are having a “mixed effect” on some of the group's members.

“Overall the contractors paying for steel are in one ear and the contractors who serve on steel mills and the members going to work, there are some furnaces turning back on and heating up — it’s having a mixed effect,” Dean, the president of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, told Hill.TV.

Dean said that he had been holding back on weighing in on the impact of the new tariffs, saying he was trying to stay neutral because it affects some members differently.

The ironworkers union represents 120,000 members across North America. The union, which identifies as a "left-leaning organization," endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Dem strategist says Donna Brazile is joining Fox News 'for the money' CNN to host town hall with Cory Booker in South Carolina MORE over Trump in the 2016 presidential election, but members split their votes between the candidates, Dean said.

Some major steel-producing towns are starting to fire back up their furnaces, Dean said, citing Youngstown, Ohio, as a prime example.

“The steel mills locals are very happy and employers that service that area, but all of the rest of my contractors buy and procure steel,” the former ironworker said.

The majority steel-producing cities across America are still struggling to make a come back, though.

The overall employment rate in steel cities across the U.S. has grown at a slow rate if at all following Trump's March announcement of tariffs on aluminum and steel, including from trade partners such as Mexico and Canada, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Trump said aluminum and steel duties would “only come off if [a] new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed." 

Trump on Monday announced a preliminary agreement with Mexico that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

The new agreement requires that 75 percent of car parts come from the U.S., and it also calls for more local steel and aluminum use.

Canada, meanwhile, has rejoined trade talks, but a three-way agreement has yet to be reached.

 — Tess Bonn