Nucor honors Butterfield

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 19, 2006

COFIELD – By his own accord, United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) has never stepped foot inside a steel manufacturing facility.

That was until Tuesday.

The North Carolina First Congressional District Representative donned a hard hat and safety goggles on Tuesday during his visit to Hertford County’s Nucor Plate Mill. Not only did he tour the massive facility, he actually took the controls in the “rolling mill” and helped to flatten a slab of 2,000-plus-degree steel.

Rep. Butterfield was at Nucor to receive the plant’s “Man of Steel” Award. The Wilson, NC native was praised by Nucor for “going to bat for the United States steel industry” during his September appearance before the U.S. International Trade Commission. There, Rep. Butterfield aided in a successful campaign to protect American steel interests, preventing unfairly traded imports from flooding the domestic market and thus affecting manufacturing jobs throughout the nation, including Nucor’s workforce.

In presenting Butterfield with the “Man of Steel Award,” Hertford County-Nucor Vice President and General Manager Giff Daughtridge commended the Congressman for his efforts on issues affecting American manufacturers such as international currency manipulation, overseas outsourcing and illegal dumping of foreign products on U.S. markets.

“Nucor would like to recognize Congressman Butterfield for his tireless dedication to domestic manufacturers and the working men and women of North Carolina,” Daughtridge said. “We are grateful for his leadership and are fortunate to have such capable representation in Washington.”

Daughtridge went on to say that Butterfield’s efforts has allowed not only Nucor to compete globally on a level playing field, but other American manufacturers as well.

“The Nucor team in Hertford County is proud and eager to compete against all global competitors,” Daughtridge stressed. “Our safety, quality and productivity are world class and we will do very well against any competition on a level playing field. Thank-you Congressman Butterfield for working to provide us that level playing field.”

While it came in many different forms n a nod of the head, a thumbs-up or through word of mouth n that “thank-you” greeted Butterfield as he toured the plant. Despite an ailing back, the 58-year-old Congressman was up to the task, stopping only long enough to absorb information on the plant’s inner workings.

“That was impressive,” Butterfield said during lunch following the 70-minute tour. “I’ve been in some extremely large manufacturing plants, but never a steel mill. This is a world-class operation.”

The Congressman was also impressed with Nucor’s ability to employ workers from all walks of life and blend them into a cohesive team that was ready, willing and able to tackle the world.

“Nucor understands globalization,” Butterfield said. “They have armed their workers with the tools and the knowledge to be successful in a global market.”

Speaking on the “Man of Steel” Award, a hand-crafted item made especially for the occasion, Butterfield said he was honored, but yet knew such recognition was fleeting.

“It’s nice to receive awards and be invited to cut ribbons, but the most important part of my work is to represent you in Washington and to fight each and every day to bring resources to the First Congressional District,” he noted.

Rep. Butterfield, emphasizing the importance of protecting the manufacturing sector, continued by saying, “It is imperative that we act swiftly and decisively to combat forces detrimental to our nation’s manufacturers. Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy and we must do all in our power to protect it.”

More than 20 percent of North Carolina’s gross state product comes from manufacturing. However, this sector has lost significant ground in recent years, partly due to foreign governments such as China who, despite being in violation of World Trade Organization obligations, peg their currency to the dollar to ensure favorable marketing conditions for both its imports and exports. This results in serious consequences for U.S. trade, manufacturing and the global financial system, issues that Butterfield has tackled to ensure fair trade.

His efforts to protect American manufacturing interests have allowed companies, such as Nucor, to grow (the Hertford County mill produced 1.3 million tons of steel in 2005). And it’s companies like Nucor who use technology to help save our natural resources.

As the world’s largest recycler, Nucor plants in 14 states use electric arc furnace technology to recycle more than 20 million tons of steel. This process, used by Nucor for over 40 years, conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone for every ton of steel produced. This enables Nucor to annually save enough energy to supply power to Los Angeles for eight years.

So, the next time you notice Nucor’s famed green code on a slab of steel in use, remember it may have been crafted right here in Hertford County. For that matter, it may have even been rolled and pressed by your United States Congressman.