Vindication took six years, but the Independent Steelworkers Union has finally won a court battle against Japanese steelmakers that dumped tinplate into the US market.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC ruled that the US Court of International Trade erred in previous decisions that supported Japan’s Nippon Steel, NKK Corp., Kawasaki Steel and Toyo Kohan Co. Ltd.

The 24-page ruling reverses those decisions, declaring the New York trade court judge “erred in assessing credibility and in reweighing the evidence” that was brought to the US International Trade Commission.

The International Trade Commission must now reinstate its initial finding that the former Weirton Steel Corp. was harmed by the imports, the three-judge panel ruled.

“The bottom line is the Japanese tinplate producers were violating American trade laws and they have now been held accountable,” ISU President Mark Glyptis said.

Weirton Steel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2003 and was sold twice in 18 months, first to Ohio-based International Steel Group Inc., then to the world’s largest steelmaker, Mittal Steel Co.

The company that once employed 13,000 people in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania now has about 1,200 workers.

“It has been a sometimes frustrating and demanding fight,” Glyptis said, “but we have prevailed.”

The union went to the International Trade Commission in 1999, arguing US steelmakers were being harmed by illegal dumping of steel at “less than fair value” prices.

The commission agreed in 2000, but the Japanese appealed and initially won. Four times, the ITC sided with the union, and four times, the Court of International Trade sided with the Japanese. (AP)