Posts from Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Trump Still Wants to Save ZTE, the Chinese Telecom Firm That’s a Threat to U.S. Security

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

President Trump has been facing a self-inflicted humanitarian crisis this week, as he deals with the massive public backlash to his administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents.

But despite that ongoing ordeal — one which appears to be far from over — The Donald still managed to find some time this week to fight to save his favorite shady foreign telecommunications company.

On Monday, the Senate passed its annual defense authorization bill by a bipartisan vote of 85-10. Included in the legislation was a provision that would ban Chinese telecom company ZTE from doing business in the United States. If enacted, that provision would reverse a controversial deal Team Trump made to save the company.

And Trump isn’t happy about the Senate's big move. On Wednesday, he met with key Republican lawmakers and urged them “not to scuttle his administration’s efforts” on ZTE. While no conclusion came out of the meeting, several Members of Congress in attendance told the New York Times that they hope a compromise between the White House and Capitol Hill will be reached.

In case you are just tuning in to this particular plotline of The Trump Show, here’s how we got here.

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Global Garment Industry Supply Chains Remain Rife with Gender-Based Violence

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Leading retailers H&M, Gap and Walmart continue to depend on overseas factories where harassment and abuse toward female workers runs rampant, according to new reports from leading union, workers rights and human rights organizations.

In three individual reports, a global coalition of organizations including Global Labor Justice and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance explain how much of the fast fashion produced for the retailers in overseas factories depends on conditions that breed violence and sexual harassment toward women.

“These are not isolated incidents,” Global Labor Justice reports on its website. “Rather, they reflect a convergence of risk factors for gender violence… that leave women garment workers systematically exposed to violence.”

The studies show that while major retailers have said they are committed to improving working conditions in the overseas factories that supply many of their products, much work remains to be done.

The findings also come at a time when discussion about the future of trade is taking place — and a reminder that while much attention has been paid to how shifts in trade relationships might impact companies’ bottom lines, free trade has meant real people around the world have suffered serious abuse.

In each report, researchers examine the ways in which female garment workers are routinely, and often violently, abused in their workplaces. Many also face unwanted sexual advances from their supervisors.

That abuse isn’t just limited to the factory floor, either — these workers also deal with violence and harassment during their commutes and in employer-provided housing, the reports find.

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Guess the Trade War is Back On?

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Hey, remember this from like a week ago?

Way back on May 20, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin went on Fox News Sunday and said that talks between the United States and China led the two countries to put “the trade war on hold.” Although Mnuchin’s rhetoric got a lot of attention, the actual policy behind it was pretty big — Mnuchin had announced that the United States would not issue tariffs on Chinese products.

This, of course, was a huge reversal in everything we’ve heard from Team Trump for well, years. And quite a lot of people called shenanigans, including yours truly.

AAM President Scott Paul even penned an op-ed for a slightly more prestigious venue, making the case that by giving up the tariffs so quickly — and doing so when the Chinese had offered no enforceable commitments in return — Trump squandered “the best chance the United States has had in years to remake the bilateral trade relationship with China.”

Flash forward this morning, when President Trump made an announcement that provides the perfect opportunity to embed this clip.

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If This is the Art of the Deal, We’re in Trouble

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Hey, remember this?

That Donald Trump clip has a little bit of everything: Trump Tower, the George Washington Bridge, Tom Brady, and even ISIS. It's from Trump's 2016 speech launching his presidential campaign, and set the course for his campaign and eventual presidency.

As you might recall, the entire speech is, um, very Trumpian. In the clip above, Trump makes the argument that China is hurting the United States because of unfair trade, and it's time for new leadership (guess who!) to make a better deal. Here's Trump:

We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t even know that we have the cards, because our leaders don’t understand the game. We could turn off that spigot by charging them tax until they behave properly. 

Which brings us to this past weekend.

Trump administration officials and Chinese leaders held a series of meetings in Beijing and Washington over the past several weeks to talk trade issues. The talks stemmed from Trump's decision to issue tariffs on select Chinese products in response to China's years of unchecked theft of intellectual property. China, you'll recall, responded with its own set of tariffs on American products.

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Infrastructure Week Has Become a Joke, and That’s a Big Mistake.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

It’s Infrastructure Week. No, you guys, for reals though!

The concept of “Infrastructure Week” has become a bit of a joke here in the D.C. swamp, since it seems like every single time the White House intends to focus on infrastructure, there’s a big distraction.

But it actually is Infrastructure Week this time. Hundreds of organizations —big business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, labor leaders like the AFL-CIO, and even good old AAM — are taking part in the official advocacy effort to push for major investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, public transit, ports, railways, airports, pipelines, and more.

There’s even a hashtag: #TimetoBuild.

But sadly, the party was spoiled before it even began. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced last week there is not likely to be an infrastructure bill this year (something Senate Democrats had a bit of fun with):

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Black Workers Were Also Hurt by Factory Job Loss — Even More Than Their White Counterparts

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

One of the chief narratives from the 2016 presidential campaign is that President Trump was propelled to victory because of white working class voters in industrial states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

There likely is some truth to that. But what that narrative often leaves out is the fact that black communities in cities across the United States also have seen devastating factory job loss in recent decades — and in many instances, those communities have struggled to recover even more so than other areas.

The Atlantic recently examined the impact of manufacturing job loss in black neighborhoods in Chicago as part of a story on the divide between rich and poor in the Windy City. While Chicago’s downtown has attracted big-name companies and a college-educated workforce, things remain bleak in the city’s black neighborhoods.

Chicago’s legacy of segregation is one reason, and decisions by city officials to pour money into downtown made that problem worse. But another reason is the loss of manufacturing:

“Half a century ago, people with little education could find good jobs in the behemoths that dotted Chicago’s south and west sides. Now, most of those factories have moved overseas or to the suburbs, and there are fewer employment opportunities … Chicago underscores that it’s not just white, rural Americans who have been hard hit by the disappearance of manufacturing jobs.”

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Don’t Forget: China Has Stolen American Trade Secrets for Years Now

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

It’s the week of trade — and things aren’t slowing down yet.

President Trump on Thursday announced a three-pronged approach designed to address China’s rampant intellectual property theft, which will include about $50 billion in tariffs, the filing of a complaint at the World Trade Organization and an investigation into Chinese investments in the United States.

And that wasn’t the only big trade news announced on Thursday. On Capitol Hill, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer announced the countries that will be exempt from unrelated tariffs on steel and aluminum. Along with Canada and Mexico, which already had been exempted, the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea will not be subject to the tariffs, which officially go into effect on Friday.

We’ve spent quite a lot of time in these parts talking about the steel stuff — here’s a quick explainer video if you’re looking for background — but given that Trump is now shifting his focus to taking on China’s intellectual property theft, we thought it would be useful to offer some thoughts on that issue.

Whether or not you like Trump — he certainly doesn’t do himself any favors, to put it mildly — it’s important to take a step back and remember that this latest trade action isn’t coming out of thin air.

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New Poll Finds Republican Voters Strongly Back Trump’s Action on Steel Imports

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Seventy percent of GOP voters support the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

The takes around President Trump’s decision to act on steel and aluminum imports have, as they say, been hot.

For an issue that typically is confined to policy wonks, Trump’s trade action dominated the airwaves and editorial pages for days. But missing from most of the coverage has been any real insight as to how Trump’s decision is being received among voters (along with nuance on what the tariffs will actually do — click here for more on that).

Now we have the first bit of data. On Wednesday, Morning Consult/Politico revealed the results of a new poll of 1,997 registered voters, finding that a plurality — 41 percent — support the tariffs, while 35 percent oppose them.

Not surprisingly, there’s a strong party breakdown to the numbers.

On the Democratic side, 54 percent oppose the action. About 25 percent of Democrats support the tariffs; that number drops to 22 percent when Democrats are told of Trump’s support for them.

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Something Huge is Missing in President Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

It's not exactly a stretch to say there aren't many issues that have potential for bipartisanship these days. But after President Trump took office in January 2017, there was one that seemed to unite Washington: Infrastructure.

The Donald made infrastructure investment a key part of his presidential campaign platform, famously pledging to spend $1 trillion to rebuild and repair America's roads, bridges, railways, ports, airports, and water systems. Notably, Trump also said he would make sure our infrastructure would be built in the United States — the policy behind the first part of his infamous "Buy American, Hire American" slogan.

And despite everything else going on, Trump found strong support for Buy America on both sides of the aisle, including from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). We even made a video about it!   

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

On Monday, the White House finally unveiled its infrastructure plan. Already, there's been a lot of analysis about the document. Some people like it. Some are skeptical. Others hate it.

But here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we are mostly confused. After years of rhetoric from the president that promoted the idea, Buy America is nowhere to be seen in the proposal.

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Trump Ends a Trade-Filled Week With More Trade Talk at the World Economic Forum

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The Trump administration had a busy week on the trade front. To recap:

  • President Trump on Tuesday issued tariffs on solar panel and washing machine imports. While we think the tariffs are less of a big deal than people are making them out to be, it is encouraging to see the administration defend American workers in these cases.
  • A few days prior, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer put out reports arguing that the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules are “not sufficient” to rein in China and Russia’s unfair trade practices, something we agree with.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Wednesday said a weak dollar could benefit the United States — a statement he quickly walked back, but one that got a lot of attention, especially in trade circles.

Perhaps the highlight of the week came on Friday in Davos, Switzerland, where Trump joined the global elite gathered for the annual World Economic Forum.

Davos isn’t exactly the sort of place one might expect to see Trump, given that the swanky meeting typically serves to tout the benefits of globalization. Even Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush never went.

But Trump made the trip — rumor is that the tag-team of Vice President Mike Pence and French President Emmanuel Macron convinced him to go — and he even gave a big speech, telling attendees that “America is open for business.”

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Union Matters

A Broken Immigration System

From the AFL-CIO

After a week of family separation, workplace raids and even more bad legislation, it is clearer than ever that we must fix our broken immigration system.

“The Trump administration is using enforcement overreach to terrify immigrant workers and is directly threatening our freedom to stand together and fight in unions for fair pay and treatment,” said AFL‑CIO President Richard Trumka.  

Trumka added: “Nothing embodies our broken immigration system more than the unnecessary pain and suffering of our immigrant brothers and sisters as families are torn apart at the border.”

America’s broken immigration system and threats of detention and deportation have been used as leverage to lower pay, worsen benefits and make workplaces less safe for decades.

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Concern of Concentration

Concern of Concentration