Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Off-Shorers Should Shut Up

Whirlpool, the big appliance manufacturer, stressed in recent years its preference to make it in America.  

In 2013, it actually moved dishwasher manufacturing jobs back to the United States from Mexico. The next year, it announced a $40 million investment in its Greenville, Ohio KitchenAid plant, adding 400 jobs. Last year, Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said the company would spend another $40 million to expand its Findlay, Ohio dishwasher plant, adding 50 jobs and raising to $1 billion its investment in U.S. manufacturing since 2010

Last week, Intel announced it would spend $7 billion to upgrade an Arizona facility and employ 3,000 people to fabricate advanced computer wafers – meaning its CEO Brian Krzanich chose the United States over Ireland, Israel and China where Intel already produces silicon wafers.

So it makes sense that Fettig and Krzanich serve on President Donald Trump’s new Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. The initiative is supposed to help the president promote U.S. job and manufacturing growth.

Curiously, though, named to that same 28-member committee are at least seven CEOs who have recently – and sometimes infamously – offshored manufacturing and jobs. They include Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, the corporation that is shipping Indiana jobs from its Carrier subsidiary to Mexico.

The performance of the manufacturing council is crucial to large swaths of workers who voted for President Trump based on his promises to stop unfair trade and resurrect American manufacturing. In his inauguration speech, the president told those voters that he would enact “America first” policies. It is no “America first” policy to send jobs from two profitable Carrier plants in Indiana to Mexico for the sole purpose of making extra bucks. That kind of offshoring exhibits a greed first mindset. The CEOs who have pursued that philosophy should shut up and take advice from the committee’s American job creators.

Former GE CEO Jack Welch wanted to be able to put factories on barges and ship them, on a corporate whim, to countries where it was cheaper to operate.

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Who is Alex Acosta?

Alan Pyke

Alan Pyke Deputy Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

resident Trump has nominated longtime Republican attorney Alex Acosta to head the Department of Labor, after his initial choice Andy Puzder withdrew in the face of withering criticism late Wednesday.

It remains to be seen if Democrats will find Acosta as objectionable as Puzder, a fast food CEO who embodied almost every policy idea and character trait the party has fought against in recent years. But if Acosta’s nomination does become a flashpoint, it would not be the first time his candidacy for a job drew critics out of the woodwork.

The black marks on Acosta’s resume have cost him at least one job he coveted, and cast a significant shadow over his current role as head of Florida International University’s law school.

Connections to Bush-era civil rights sabotage

Acosta, 48, was already “a young superstar of conservative legal circles” back in 2006 when George W. Bush made him the top federal prosecutor in Miami. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito even showed up for Acosta’s swearing-in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in recognition of a friendship dating back to Acosta’s time as a clerk for the conservative judge in the 1990s.

Before taking the top prosecutor job in south Florida, Acosta served the second Bush administration in other capacities. Acosta was a member of the National Labor Relations Board from December 2002 to August 2003 — and was confirmed to the post rather than recess-appointed like most of President Bush’s NLRB picks.

The board issued 251 decisions in Acosta’s 8-month run, including 27 published on his final day in the post. Acosta authored 125 of those opinions himself, according to a bio on the website of Florida International University’s law school, where he is currently dean.

But Acosta’s other work for the Bush team may, oddly, prove more significant during his confirmation hearings than his NLRB stint.

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EPI: U.S. Trade Deficit With China Cost 3.4m Jobs Since 2001

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

The skyrocketing U.S. trade deficit with China, starting in 2001, cost U.S. workers 3.4 million jobs, including jobs that disappeared and those that weren’t created because firms faced low-cost Chinese competition, a new Economic Policy Institute analysis says. In addition, U.S. workers lost at least $37 billion in wages due to Chinese competition, EPI adds.

Every single U.S. congressional district lost jobs, but losses were higher in heavy manufacturing states and high-tech areas, such as Silicon Valley and Portland, Ore. Three-fourths of the losses were in factories, EPI analyst Robert Scott calculated, using U.S. data.

“What is needed is a clear, comprehensive approach to deal with China’s protective and predatory trade practices,” said Steelworkers President Leo Gerard after reading the report. His union leads the way among unions and businesses in bringing trade cases against China.

“China has used virtually every tool, legal and illegal, to steal our jobs and undermine our manufacturing base and economy. Subsidies, dumping, overcapacity, currency manipu-lation and cyberespionage are all used by China to help amass a $3.9 trillion trade surplus since 2001. Mounting trade deficits are sapping our economic strength and undermining our national security. It’s time to demand that China play by the rules,” Gerard added.

But he also faulted so-called “free traders” in the U.S. “Our government needs to recognize how its flawed trade policies damaged workers and their communities, while corporations and Wall Street have reaped profits. We need a new approach to trade that puts working families first,” Gerard declared.

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Union Members Defend Working People Targeted by Trump’s Aggressive Immigration Raids

Richard L. Trumka

Richard L. Trumka President, AFL-CIO

Working people deserve to go to work every day without fear for their safety or being harassed. They deserve to go out the door and make a living without worrying about their lives being upended. These are sacred tenets people and their unions value.

Hotel workers, farm workers, teachers, taxi drivers, airport, construction and retail workers have been making their voices heard in Los Angeles; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; New York City; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and many points in between over the past week. Why?  We are defending our neighbors, co-workers and friends who are being swept up in a series of immigration raids. Working people understand in our bones that when the government terrorizes people who are simply living their lives and going to work each day, we all lose. When we allow ourselves to be divided, we are weak, when we are weak, standards erode for all of us.  

The early weeks of the Trump administration have sent alarming signals that its law enforcement priorities will target and punish working people, rather than those who steal their wages, harass them on the job and expose them to dangerous working conditions. Such strategies make people afraid to go to work and take their children to school, let alone take action to demand better working conditions or speak up when they encounter abuse. Moreover, they drive down the pay and protections for all working people—immigrant and non-immigrant alike.

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It’s Not Automation, It’s the Trade Deficit

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Alliance for American Manufacturing

A common refrain in economic commentary on the nature of work, and the changes in manufacturing employment, is basically:

“Trade didn’t take those jobs. It was robots. The robots did it!”

Okay, maybe it’s not the terminators who are doing it. Rather, it’s industrial automation: We make more stuff with less people, because manufacturing is now performed by automated processes. This idea is breezily inserted into all kinds of articles, including ones with other interesting things to say. (And, in defense of those who spread this idea, there are studies that back this up.)

But this isn’t the entirety of thinking on the subject. David Autor – one of the academics behind the “China shock” hypothesis – has pumped the brakes on this idea. And others – from those at the Democratic-aligned Brookings Institute to President Trump’s hawkish chief of the National Trade Council, Peter Navarro – have pointed to the real-world example of Germany, which has put a lot of robots on the assembly line in recent years but hasn’t seen its substantial manufacturing workforce shrink.

So what gives? How does this refrain persist? Well, a new report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) takes a look at the “shaky foundations” it stands on:

First, while productivity growth in manufacturing compared to the rest of the economy was fairly consistent from 1990 to 2010 (25.8 percent in the 1990s, and 22.7 percent in the 2000s), job losses in the latter decade were 10 times greater than in the former.

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Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

Matt Murray

Matt Murray Creator, Author, NH Labor News

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs.  I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

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Union Matters

Term Limit Supreme Court Justices

Hugh J. Campbell

Hugh J. Campbell Son of a steelworker, Philadelphia, Pa.

The Washington Post article Why it’s time to get serious about Supreme Court term limits focuses on the politicization resulting from the open SCOTUS seat after Antonin Scalia's death and that nearly every other country in the world subjects their high court justices to limited terms or mandatory retirement ages.

There is widespread support for term limits among the general public. In 2015, two-thirds of Americans supported a 10-year term limit on Supreme Court justices, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll. Only 17 percent said they supported life tenure. Sixty-six percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans supported the proposal - a strong, and rare, show of bipartisanship.

"The Constitution was written at a time when life tenure meant living into your 50s because that's what life expectancy was," legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, author of two books on the Supreme Court, has noted. "Thirty-year tenures are not what the framers had in mind."

Term Limits would mean a court that more accurately reflects the changes and judgments of the society.

Forcing Trump to make recess appointments would create SCOTUS term limits of as short as less than one year, thereby putting the proverbial “gun to the head” of the establishment to seriously consider a constitutional amendment which is necessary for supreme court justice term limits.


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The Force of Transformation

The Force of Transformation