Protectionism: Steeling Jobs

America's ailing mills want another bailout--with the cost falling on companies that use steel

Three years ago, Bill Sopko Sr. made the biggest gamble of his business career. With the economy booming, Sopko, the owner of an automotive-parts plant in Euclid, Ohio, invested $6 million in the latest gear to manufacture a critical brake component for heavy trucks. With a new 3,000-ton stamping press, he would reduce costs from $14 per unit to $9. Recouping his investment, he knew, could take as long as 10 years. But with plenty of orders in the pipeline, Sopko figured he had made a shrewd move. What he didn't calculate was getting caught in a global steel war.


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