Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Trump’s Budget Slashes Opportunity

A few hundred billion cut here, a few hundred billion slashed there, and the Trump budget proposal released this week adds up to real crushed opportunity.

The spending plan slices a pound of flesh from everyone, well, everyone who isn’t a millionaire or billionaire. For the rich, it promises massive tax breaks.

There are cuts to worker safety programs, veterans’ programs, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, vocational training, public education, environmental protection, health research and more. So much more. The list is shockingly long.

Each incision is painful. But what’s worse is the collective result: the annihilation of opportunity. The rich can buy opportunity. The rest cannot. What was always special about America was its guarantee of opportunity to everyone. All who worked hard and pulled themselves up by their  bootstraps could earn their own picket-fenced home. This budget terminates the goal of opportunity for all. It declares that the people of the United States no longer will help provide boots to those who lost jobs because of NAFTA, the residents of economically depressed regions, the children of single mothers, the sufferers of chronic diseases, the victims of natural disasters. No bootstraps for them. Just for the rich who hire servants to pull the straps on their fancy $1,500 Gucci footwear.  

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Five Things That Could Derail Infrastructure, and One Thing That Will Make It Great

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

It’s Infrastructure Week. Washington is doing its best, against incredible odds, to focus on the public foundations that make American commerce function: its nearly 47,000 miles of Interstate highways, its dozens of commercial ports, its more than 600,000 bridges.

There have been calls for a major federal infrastructure investment for years. President Barack Obama managed to sign a temporary boost into law as part of the recovery effort in 2009. Congress managed to pass another spending plan in 2015, worth $305 billion over five years. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a $500 billion investment during her 2016 campaign. Never one to be outdone, President Donald Trump doubled her up, suggesting a $1 trillion spending plan over a decade.

He’s since mentioned his desire to pursue an infrastructure plan on the night of his election victory, on inauguration day, and during his address to a joint session of Congress.

Estimates suggest infrastructure spending, if done right, could create millions of American jobs. And polling persistently shows an infrastructure plan would be extremely popular with the public.

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Reports of American Manufacturing’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

We don't make anything here anymore.

The jobs are gone, and they aren't coming back.

There's no future in manufacturing.

Those are just a few of the myths we here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) sadly hear regularly about American manufacturing — and we bet you've heard a few of them, too.  

We spend a lot of time trying to debunk them. Turns out, the team at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Foundation also hears these misguided notions quite a bit, and the organization is out with a new report that does a little myth busting. MAPI focused on four key myths:

  • Myth No. 1: U.S. Manufacturing is in Decline. While there's no doubt that the United States has lost manufacturing jobs in recent years — at least 3.2 million jobs have been outsourced to China since 2001, and between 2000 and 2010 the sector shed 5.7 million jobs — it is a misnomer to say that American manufacturing is on the brink of extinction, as has been portrayed in some media accounts. As MAPI notes, the U.S. remains a "major force in global manufacturing." If the sector was its own economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world. The total manufacturing value chain could be as high as $5.5 trillion. About 17 percent of global manufacturing activity happens in the United States, and America dominates advanced manufacturing. On the job front, nearly 9 percent of the workforce is employed in manufacturing — still a pretty good percentage.
  • Myth No. 2: Manufacturing is a Poor Career Choice. You've heard these myths, no doubt. Factory work is dirty and dangerous, and unstable in the long term. But as MAPI highlights, manufacturing actually as a lower rate of job turnover than jobs in nonmanufacturing. Manufacturing jobs pay 16 percent higher than service sector jobs — and a manufacturing job is more likely to include benefits. U.S. manufacturing also employs a large percentage of STEM workers — 37 percent of architecture and engineering workers and 16 percent of all life, physical and social scientists.
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Missouri Lawmakers Just Took Raises Away from Minimum Wage Workers

Bryce Covert

Bryce Covert Economic Policy Editor, Think Progress

Bettie Douglas was about to start her long walk to the bus to go to work on Monday morning when a man from the water company showed up at her house in St. Louis, Missouri. He was there to cut off her service.

That news threw her into a tailspin. “No one should have to live like this,” she sobbed. She tries to show up to her fast food job with a smile, as her employer asks, but she was in tears during her entire morning commute thinking about how she was going to deal with potentially losing her water and then having to pay $50 to reconnect it — not to mention paying off what the water company says she owes.

Things were supposed to be a little easier for her by now. In 2015, St. Louis passed a minimum wage increase that would have mandated that workers be paid at least $9 an hour that year, $10 an hour this year, and $11 by next year. But it passed on the very same day that the state’s preemption law, which blocks cities and localities from increasing their own wages, took effect. After a consortium of business groups sued to block the increase, it was under an injunction until a judge in February ruled in favor of the increase. It immediately took effect after the injunction was lifted.

But while the $10 minimum wage is technically in effect now, Douglas says she still hasn’t seen any extra money in her paycheck. She still makes just $7.90 an hour, even after a decade of working at the same place.

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Union Matters

The Party of Cowards

The Party of Cowards