BAYTOWN, Texas (FOX 26) - In the three years he's worked here, Zacch Washington has managed to forge himself a career. He's climbing through the ranks at Borusan Mannesmann and thinks if the plant expands according to plan that climb will accelerate.
"I believe it's a great opportunity for more jobs and I know a lot of people are struggling with jobs here in the Baytown area," Washington says.
That's the goal, but the new tariffs on steel are hurting them. It's basically a 25 percent tax on imported steel they use to make some of their pipe. The president hopes the tariffs will boost the U.S. steel industry, but 20,000 companies have applied for waivers, including his. CEO Joel Johnson says they just want a two-year waiver to build the plant, that's all.
"We knew we had to react quickly and we went through the formal process and we never heard anything from the administration. So we said what can we do?'" Johnson says.
He had his employees write letters to President Trump and members of Congress -- not just employees, but their kids as well. Each one explaining what the plant expansion would mean to their families.
"My 5-year-old daughter did one," said Antonio Smith.
They've only had one response and no word from the administration.
If the oil industry experiences a cyclical downturn on top of these tariffs, there could be layoffs, but the mood here is hopeful. Zacch Washington is so confident and hopeful that he is carrying these in his car.
"I'm going to give these to people. They ask me for applications, I'm giving them to people," Washington says.
But time is running out. The deadline for the waivers is July 9.