An American-made Auto Industry Deserves Our Support

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

Memorial Day has come and gone. It’s officially summer: The most American of seasons.

That means baseball games, barbecues, and cruising your local drag in an American-made automobile.

Okay, okay, it’s been a long time since the days of American Graffiti, when nearly every car model you saw on your drive around town was made by Ford, Chrysler, or General Motors. The auto industry of 2017? It’s a global one with an international supply chain, which means every car on the road has a significant amount of material in it that wasn’t made in the USA.

Still, even if it’s a matter of degree, I’m proud to drive American. At home I’ve got a Chevrolet Volt (made in Michigan), the most recent model of which came in at №. 30 on the Made in America Auto Index. Produced by the Kogod School of Business at American University, this annual index looks at where the main components of an auto are assembled or manufactured; where the R&D that went into each model takes place; and where its parent company’s headquarters are located to determine which model is truly the most American-made.

The top of the 2017 list is dominated by the Big Three domestic auto companies — Ford, General Motors, and Fiat/Chrysler — who took 19 of the first 25 spots.

That’s good news for them, and for the rest of the U.S. economy. Domestic auto production means more jobs, more tax revenue, and a healthy industrial ecosystem, wherein more local businesses are likely to crop up, think of new business ideas, sell more products … and, yep, create more jobs. It’s an example of a virtuous cycle in action, and it’s why the Obama administration made the right decision in extending a credit lifeline to Detroit in 2009: the American auto sector is worthy of investment and of our support.

So three cheers for the domestic firms. Now how do we get more of them into the top of the Kogod rankings?

Well, we can (and should) show our support with our wallets. We’re all consumers with finite resources, but if your next auto purchase comes down to six in one hand or half a dozen in the other, consider choosing the American option.

But there are also policy answers to that question, which we should expect the Trump administration (and its vociferous “America first” posturing) to provide. After all, President Trump was quick to take credit for news of recent auto plant expansions — despite a lack of involvement — early in his transition. Now that he’s in office, why shouldn’t the president make good on his American-made rhetoric?

Mr. Trump and his appointees have a real chance to do that as they chart a course on trade policy. For instance, as it revisits bilateral trade agreements and seeks out new ones, the White House should insist upon rules discouraging currency manipulation, a beggar-thy-neighbor monetary policy that distorts trade flows and has indirectly led to millions of displaced American workers over the years.

It should do it again specifically when it meets with its Mexican and Canadian counterparts for a renegotiation of NAFTA. That’s an opportunity to fine tune and strengthen trade enforcement mechanisms, and it shouldn’t be wasted.

Ultimately, what will determine the future of the American auto industry in a world full of enthusiastic rivals will be its ingenuity; its ability to deliver a great, innovative product to the market at a reasonable cost. And domestic automakers’ placing in the latest Kogod rankings suggest the industry is in good health: strong at home and ready to take on all challengers.

But trade policy in support of U.S. manufacturers has a role to play in that success, too. Washington should make sure it’s put to use, and I hope to see it reflected in the next Made in America Auto Index.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work