Trump’s Trip to China a Disappointment for American Factory Workers

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Before President Trump left on his big trip to Asia, we called it a make-or-break moment for him on trade. Would he do as he long promised and stand up for American workers and manufacturers — or would he fall under the spell of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit-plus?

Well, we have our answer.

“I don’t blame China,” Trump said of the U.S.-China trade gap. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit… but in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out of control trade deficit to take place and grow.”

O.K., in fairness to Trump, past administrations did negotiate some poor agreements and provided lax trade enforcement. This is a longstanding problem, and it’s going to take some time to fix it.

But Trump took office 10 months ago. He is the current president, and it’s now on him to change the game — and his trip to China yielded practically nothing for American manufacturing workers and companies.

While the administration touted $250 billion in deals with China, a closer examination reveals that the math behind that figure is fuzzy; a $37 billion aircraft order from Boeing consists of previously announced deals, for example.

Meanwhile, Trump heads home with no progress on critical issues like China’s out-of-control industrial overcapacity or reliance on state-owned enterprises. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the deals struck with China were “small in the grand scheme of things” and admitted that “we have a lot more work to do.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump treated China “with kid gloves.”

“The president may not blame China, but I do, and so do millions of Americans who voted for him and others who have lost their jobs at the hands of China’s rapacious trade policies,” Schumer said in a statement. “After campaigning like a lion against China’s trade policies, the president is governing like a lamb.”

As AAM’s own Scott Paul noted, there’s actually something Trump could do right now to move the needle when it comes to China trade, and he doesn’t need China to go along with it. He doesn’t even need Congress!

“The first thing President Trump must do when he returns to the United States is complete the Section 232 investigations on steel and aluminum and deliver on his promise to America’s factory workers,” Paul said.

A growing contingent of Members of Congress agree, by the way. More than 120 Members from both parties have written to President Trump asking him to move forward with the investigations, which are critical to safeguarding American-made steel and aluminum from foreign threats.

In fact, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D) sent letters on Thursday asking about the status of the investigations.

“The uncertain timeline has had considerable negative economic impact. Since the investigations were announced, steel imports have risen 21 percent as foreign countries have rushed product into the U.S. market in anticipation of promised action,” Booker wrote. “Further delay only compounds the problem.”

The Virginia senators echoed Booker.

“We are deeply concerned that the Administration has indicated that it wants to wait until the completion of tax reform to make its decision,” Kaine and Warner write. “We urge you to provide our affected workers and relevant industries the certainly they need.”

America's workers are concerned too. President Trump has the power to act, the question is whether he will.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work