How Should We Share the Wealth Created by Productivity Increases?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, AAM

Are robots coming for America’s jobs?

This is a topic we explored last week on our blog, when we reviewed new research from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that concluded: No. Using instances of industrial automation to explain American manufacturing job loss is to see the forest, but not the trees. The real reason we lost those jobs was an explosion in trade with a mercantilist China.

This and other details of this ITIF report are explored in the latest edition of the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s (AAM) snazzy new podcast, The Manufacturing Report. AAM President Scott Paul talks to the report’s author, Adams Nager from ITIF, about his conclusions:

It’s a quick, informative interview, in which Nager addresses a narrative that has been used to explain away the disenfranchisement of millions of American workers.

But once we remove that roadblock to what’s really happened to manufacturing jobs, the question becomes what to do about it.

Well! The New York Times editorial board noticed the robot fallacy, too, and took that question on. Increased productivity is nothing new, it writes. What’s new is that our government isn’t creating policies that respond to the changing nature of work in 2017, and that we’re all getting a share of the wealth that this increased productivity creates.

The Times writes:

Productivity and pay rose in tandem for decades after World War II, until labor and wage protections began to be eroded. Public education has been given short shrift, unions have been weakened, tax overhauls have benefited the rich and basic labor standards have not been updated.

As a result, gains from improving technology have been concentrated at the top, damaging the middle class, while politicians blame immigrants and robots for the misery that is due to their own failures. Eroded policies need to be revived, and new ones enacted.

Well said. Read the whole editorial here.

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Reposted from AAM.

Before coming to AAM, Matthew worked for the communications department at Council for a Strong America, a childhood advocacy nonprofit, and at community newspapers in Virginia and California. He is a 2006 graduate of Indiana University, and hails from Northwest Indiana. You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @mpmcmullan.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

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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