Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Americans Want a Manufacturing Overhaul and They Want It Now

Lately it feels as if the United States is anything but united. From climate change to universal health care, from Kanye West to the validity of pumpkin spice, Americans seem divided over every issue under the sun.

But a new survey reveals there is at least one thing on which the majority of this country agrees.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) recently conducted a poll of 1,200 general election voters and found that most Americans, even across party lines, believe that U.S. manufacturing is critical to maintaining national security. They also believe workers deserve better wages and countries that cheat or side-step trade commitments should be held accountable.

Last month, the Department of Defense issued a report confirming that what American voters believe is right – U.S. manufacturing is crucial to national security. The report says that the department currently relies on China and other potential rival countries for essential materials to produce everything from steel armor plate to lithium ion batteries.

“The ability of the military to surge in response to an emergency depends on our nation’s ability to produce needed parts and systems, healthy and secure supply chains, and a skilled U.S. workforce,” the report states. “Not only is the manufacturing sector the backbone of U.S. military technical advantage, but also a major contributor to the U.S. economy.”

Both the AAM survey and the Defense Department’s conclusions prove the labor movement was right when it advocated for years for robust yet strategic policies to support domestic manufacturing. Programs reinforcing manufacturing are popular, but more importantly, they are vital to America’s basic survival.

Manufacturing is an economic generator. Every new manufacturing job supports 3.6 jobs in other sectors. Manufacturing also accounts for 60 percent of the country’s exports and 12 percent of its GDP, according to the Defense report.

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Canada Erects Steel Safeguard Tariffs

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Time for another steel tariffs update!

A few months ago, Canada was considering erecting safeguard tariffs against certain steel products after America’s broad steel tariffs caused a surge of dubiously cheap imports to wash up in the Canadian market.

It looks like Canada is done considering. Those safeguards are going up. Reports the Wall Street Journal:

The goal of the so-called safeguard measures is to prevent a surge of overseas steel imports from entering Canadian markets. Canada’s steel industry has complained in recent months that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed on national-security grounds and affecting most countries, have caused more shipments of cheap steel to be diverted to Canada from the U.S. …

The new measures could address concerns from the Trump administration that foreign companies are using Canada as a backdoor to move their metals into the U.S., trade watchers say. Canada is trying to convince the U.S. to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, which it imposed earlier this year on national-security grounds. Canada is the largest foreign supplier to the U.S. of both metals.  

The national security tariffs on steel and aluminum were not lifted as a result of the renegotiated NAFTA, and have been received as an insult north of the border, according to Politico’s Alexander Panetta.   

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White House Puts Out Its Plan for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

I know we say this a lot, but there’s a lot going on these days.

So, we wouldn’t blame you if you missed this piece of news: Earlier this month, the Trump administration officially unveiled its strategy for strengthening American leadership in advanced manufacturing.

Put together by the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing, the 40-page strategy document focuses on three key goals: the development and transition of new manufacturing technologies, the education and training of the manufacturing workforce, and the expansion of domestic manufacturing across the supply chain.

Strategic objectives for achieving each goal are included in the report, along with specific outcomes that are designed to be accomplished within four years. The plan received input from across the federal government, and many federal agencies are tasked with helping to achieve the objectives.

For example, the strategy includes priorities like expanding apprenticeships and career and technical education pathways; properly enforcing Buy American policies; and recognizing the role of programs like Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in stimulating innovation and supporting small and mid-sized manufacturers.

And although it’s a product of the Trump administration, the new strategy began long before The Donald even came on the D.C. scene, when Congress passed the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act back in 2014.

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Dispatches from the Front Lines of Workplace and Environmental Safety: October Edition

Jordan Barab

Jordan Barab Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA

The High Price of Clean Rooms: Thousands of Marriott hotel workers are on strike in 23 hotels in Detroit, Boston, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Maui, and Oahu. Aside from wanted a greater share of the company’s enormous profits, the hotel workers, represented by UNITE-HERE, are also demanding that the company address conditions that lead to back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders, as well more protection against sexual harassment and violence. The union notes that “Housekeepers, for example, are pushed to turn over rooms quickly, lugging heavy carts, flipping cumbersome mattresses and spending hours on their knees as they clean rooms as swiftly as possible. Repetitive stress injuries are recurrent, and housekeepers are also exposed to hazards like sharps discarded in hotel room garbage.”

P.S. The New York Yankees learned the hard way that God doesn’t like people who cross picket lines. The Yankees crossed the picket line at a Marriott-owned in Boston during the American League Divisional Series. They went on to lose the series. Case closed.

The High Price of Cheap Wings: With the demise of worker-oriented reporting in many of the nation’s top newspapers, it’s nice to see that the Washington Post has decided that it’s readers need to understand that their Buffalo wings come with a price.  The article discusses the Department of Agriculture’s new policy increasing line speeds in poultry plants despite strong evidence that even the current line speeds are causing high rates of musculoskeletal injuries, and that production focused supervisors aren’t letting workers use the restroom.  According to Deborah Berkowitz with the National Employment Law Project,  “The Trump administration doesn’t care that this change will exploit workers and harm public health and animal welfare. This is all about increasing profits for the poultry industry.” I’d say that about sums it up.

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EPA move to revoke California vehicle emissions waiver generates bipartisan outrage

E.A. Crunden

E.A. Crunden Reporter, Think Progress

A bipartisan group of nearly 70 lawmakers are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve a waiver allowing California to regulate its own vehicle efficiency standards, which the Trump administration has threatened to revoke.

In a letter sent to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Tuesday, 68 House members urged the agency to halt plans they say could severely impact public health, Politico first reported Thursday.

Under the Clean Air Act, California has historically been allowed to set its own air pollution standards for new motor vehicles if granted an EPA waiver. The state’s stronger standards have been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia, which the letter’s signatories argue collectively represent more than 35 percent of the U.S. population and 1 in every 3 cars sold in the country.

The letter, shared with ThinkProgress, argues that “hundreds of thousands of premature deaths” have been prevented thanks to the stronger standards, along with “hundreds of millions of cases” of diseases relating to respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

“Thanks to these high standards, many states have significantly reduced pollutants like health-threatening smog and soot, in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help combat climate change,” the letter continues. “Automakers and their suppliers have risen to the challenge of achieving technology-driving standards.”
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Union Matters

Your Vote is the Last Line of Defense Against One-Party Control

Hugh J. Campbell

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

The bottom line of Adam Serwer’s The Guardrails Have Failed is: “As for Kavanaugh, every opinion he writes, every decision he joins, and every day he sits on the bench will be tainted with illegitimacy.” Senators who represent a shrinking portion of the population confirmed a justice more Americans oppose than support. He was nominated by a president for whom most of the electorate did not vote. Republican control of the three branches of government is countermajoritarian. With the guardrails of separated powers broken, the last remaining defense for American democracy and the rule of law is the electorate itself.

Since April 8, 2017, when Neil Gorsuch became Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States Government has been controlled by one political party. Why is this important?

In his Oct. 15, 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on separation of powers, Justice Antonin Scalia tells us: The real constitution of the Soviet Union, that constitution did not prevent the centralization of power in one person or in one party. And when that happens, the game is over, the Bill of Rights is just what our Framers would call a “parchment guarantee.”

Unless the Republican party ceases to control the legislative branch of the U.S. government in January, 2019, centralization of power will continue in one party, the Republican Party, for another 24 months, and if Donald Trump has his way, that centralization of power will be in one person.


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Unions for All, Unions for 15

Unions for All, Unions for 15