The Ugly Truth About Trumponomics

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

When Donald Trump spoke at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina—unveiling Boeing’s new 787 “Dreamliner”—he congratulated Boeing for building the plane “right here in the great state of South Carolina."

But that is pure fantasy.

Trump also used the occasion to tout his “America First” economics, stating “our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the U.S.A.”

Trump seems utterly ignorant about global competition—and about what’s really holding back American workers.

Start with Boeing’s Dreamliner itself. It’s not “made in the U.S.A.” It is assembled in the USA. Most of the parts and almost a third of the cost of the entire plane come from overseas.

For example:

The center fuselage and horizontal stabilizers came from Italy.

The aircraft’s landing gears, doors, electrical power conversion system—from France.

The main cabin lighting came from Germany.

The cargo access doors from Sweden.

The lavatories, flight deck interiors, and galleys from Japan.

Many of the engines from the UK.

The moveable trailing edge of the wings from Canada.

Notably, the foreign companies that made these parts don’t pay their workers low wages. In fact, when you add in the value of health and pension benefits, most of these foreign workers get a better deal than do Boeing’s workers.

These nations also provide most young people with excellent educations and technical training, as well as universally available health care.

To pay for all this, these countries also impose higher tax rates on their corporations and wealthy individuals than does the United States. And their health, safety, environmental, and labor regulations are stricter.

Not incidentally, they have stronger unions.

So why is so much of Boeing’s Dreamliner coming from these high-wage, high-tax, high-cost places?

Because the parts made by workers in these countries are better, last longer, and are more reliable than parts made anywhere else.

There’s a critical lesson here.

The way to make the American workforce more competitive isn’t to build an economic wall around America. 

It’s to invest more in the education and skills of Americans, in on-the-job training, in a healthcare system that reaches more of us. And to give workers a say in their companies through strong unions.

In other words, we get a first-class workforce by investing in the productive capacities of Americans—and rewarding them with high wages.

Economic nationalism is no substitute for building the competitiveness of American workers.

***

Reposted from AlterNet.

Robert Reich served as the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and now is a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, is now in bookstores. His earlier book, “Supercapitalism,” is out in paperback. For copies of his articles, books, and public radio commentaries, go to www.RobertReich.org.

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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