Posts from Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

New Bipartisan Legislation Aims to Make it Tougher for China to Dodge Trade Laws

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) introduced a new bill on Tuesday to “crack down on unfair trade cheating from nonmarket economies like China.”

O.K., we know: We need to be more specific here.

The Senators want to give the Commerce Department more power to hold China and other countries accountable when they evade anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD).

For those unfamiliar with this area of U.S. trade law, the United States issues AD/CVD duties when imported products are found to be sold below market value or to have received significant government subsidies when being produced. The idea is to level the playing field a bit for American workers and companies, who operate in a free and open market.

As the Senators note, AD/CVD rules are pretty common, and most countries follow them without issue. But nonmarket economies — especially China — work overtime to dodge these duties, engaging in “a sophisticated and government-backed effort to avoid the duties required.”

For example, China “alters their products slightly to get around the rules, violating the spirit of the law, if not the letter.” It isn’t individual Chinese companies doing this, remember: China uses “its vast government resources” to ensure these firms are able to evade U.S. trade laws and avoid the duties.

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Don’t Let China’s State-Owned CRRC Build NYC’s Subway, State Lawmakers Say

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

As Congress continues to work on legislation to ban China’s government-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving U.S. tax money to build rail cars and buses, local lawmakers are taking on the issue in their own states.

The latest instance is in New York, where state Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D) is teaming up with state Sen. Diane Savino (D) on a bill to prevent foreign state-owned enterprises, including the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), from using New York tax money on mass transportation projects.

Like federal lawmakers who have championed this issue, Cusick and Savino say they are worried about the security threats posed by allowing a firm with direct ties to the Chinese state apparatus to build critical infrastructure systems.

They point to recent testimony from former Department of Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who all specifically mentioned critical infrastructure when discussing cyber security threats at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee field hearing in New York.

“There is wide consensus that allowing CRRC and other state-owned enterprises to have open access to our critical rail infrastructure and mass transportation systems is ill-advised,” Cusick said in a statement. “These contracts create major cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the U.S. The goal should be risk avoidance, not mitigation.”

There’s little doubt about China’s intentions with CRRC.

New research from Radarlock examined the company’s deep ties to China’s government, communist party and military, concluding that CRRC is a key part of China’s plan to dominate global industry. But it’s more than that – CRRC also obtains technology for potentially nefarious purposes, handing everything it gathers from its work abroad to the Chinese state and military.

Cusick and Savino say they are also worried about CRRC’s economic impact, noting that CRRC has nabbed contracts in major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles by “drastically underbidding other railcar manufacturers and using non-market tactics.”

The issue is of critical importance in the Empire State because New York City is looking to upgrade its iconic subway system. CRRC won a 2018 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) contest to design new subway cars – a development that quickly drew the ire of Democratic Senate Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, who hails from New York.

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The FTC’s Enforcement of “Made in USA” is Notoriously Weak. It’s Time to Change That.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We cover a lot of ground here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing — Trade! Infrastructure! Tom Cruise! — but there’s nothing that gets us more excited than learning about an American-made product. Whether it’s a small piece of jewelry or a big piece of steel, we love highlighting the amazing workers and companies who manufacture their products in the United States.

After all, a lot of hard work — and often extra expense — goes into that “Made in USA” label. U.S. companies and workers must take care to ensure that “all or virtually all” of their products are made in the United States.

When something is labeled as “Made in USA,” many consumers recognize the effort that is behind it, along with the millions of jobs that American-made products support. The label can be a deciding factor when someone is deciding on what product to buy.

Made in USA means something.

And while nothing gets us more excited than a Made in USA product, nothing gets us more fired up than when a company knowingly mislabels its product as Made in USA. What’s worse is that these cheaters have been getting away with it.

It happens more than you think. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) caught some pretty brazen Made in USA cheats:

  • One company sold military-themed backpacks – including on military bases! – with an “American-made” label.  The FTC found that the vast majority of that company’s products were made in China or Mexico.
  • Another company made hockey pucks, and even positioned itself as “the all-American alternative to imported pucks.” All of the company’s pucks were imported from China.
  • A direct-to-consumer mattress firm advertised its mattresses as assembled in the United States. The mattresses were made in China.

But in all three of these blatant cases of Made in USA cheating, the FTC politely asked these bad actors to stop this deceitful behavior.

The cheaters paid zero fines — they kept every penny they made deliberately deceiving consumers. No notices to consumers were issued. The companies didn’t even have to admit any wrongdoing!

What’s the point in even having a strong “Made in USA” standard if it isn’t enforced?

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Teamsters Say Taxpayer Dollars Shouldn’t Go to Chinese Companies to Build Transit

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters weighed in on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week, sending the chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees a letter outlining their priorities for the legislation.

First thing on the list? Make sure that the final legislation includes language from the Senate version of the bill that would prohibit “the use of tax dollars from supporting Chinese rail car and bus companies.” Here’s General President James P. Hoffa with more:

“As the proud representatives of American workers who both manufacture and operate thousands of American-made buses, we believe that American companies must be allowed to compete on an even playing field, free from Chinese interference into our transit system and manufacturing base.”

The Teamsters’ support for banning both rail cars and buses is significant. The Senate’s version of the NDAA included language prohibiting China’s state-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving taxpayer dollars to build rail cars and buses, but the House version of the bill only applies to rail cars.

If Congress moves forth with the House version, it would be a huge oversight, to say the least. As we’ve discussed in this space before, there’s widespread bipartisan economic and national security concern about China’s role in building both.

First, there’s the threat to 750 companies and 90,000 jobs up and down the transportation supply chain, as China is aiming to dominate rail car and bus manufacturing via its “Made in China 2025” plan. China heavily subsidizes its state-owned and controlled companies, allowing them to severely underbid on government contracts to build these systems. The point isn’t to make money — China’s ultimate goal is to put competitors out of business and monopolize the global industry.

If you don’t think that’s realistic, just look at what has happened to the pharmaceutical industry.

“When you can subsidize, when you can wholly own an enterprise like China does, you can create a wholly unlevel playing field,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) recently told the New York Times. “We’re used to that unlevel playing field existing between the U.S. and China, but now it’s happening in our own backyard.”

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Congress to Examine the Health and Safety Risks of China’s “Grip” on Medicine

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

A little over a year ago, AAM President Scott Paul chatted with health care expert Rosemary Gibson for an episode of The Manufacturing Report podcast. Gibson had just co-authored a new book examining an overlooked part of America’s trade relationship with China.

The book’s title says it all. In “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” Gibson and co-author Janardan Prasad Singh outline how China now dominates pharmaceutical manufacturing — and why that is such a big problem for the United States.

Along with making a significant amount of medication, China also has a virtual monopoly on many of the essential ingredients that go into the pharmaceuticals that Americans depend on, including everything from over-the-counter vitamins to cancer meds to almost every antibiotic and blood pressure medication.

China’s dominance of the pharmaceutical supply chain means it has the power to cut off access to many of the medications Americans need to, um, live.

Think tariffs on cotton sweaters and bed linens are bad? Think about what would happen If China decided to cut off our medicine.

Pharmacy shelves would sit empty. Hospitals would close. People would die.

“Children and adults with cancer will suffer without vital medicines,” Gibson recently told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “For people on kidney dialysis, treatment would cease, a veritable death sentence.”

It’s all very scary stuff. Keep you awake at night kind of stuff.

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China’s Government-Owned CRRC Just Bought a German Locomotives Factory

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

An interesting little story from Europe popped up in our news alerts on Tuesday morning.

It seems that Vossloh, a German rail technology company, is divesting its locomotives business so it can focus on rail infrastructure.

Normally, we here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing wouldn’t pay much attention to the business dealings of a German manufacturer like Vossloh. But what caught our eye was who ended up buying Vossloh’s locomotives unit: China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd (CRRC).

Nikkei Asian Review reports:

“CRRC, the Chinese state company that is the world’s largest train maker, is set to gain a key foothold in Europe by acquiring its first factory on the continent… Vossloh announced Monday that it would sell a locomotive factory it opened last year to CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed CRRC.”

If you aren't familar with CRRC, it is a massive Chinese government-owned conglomerate with deep ties to the Chinese communist party. CRRC is a key player in the government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative, in which China is aiming to dominate sectors of the global industrial economy, including rail manufacturing.

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Military Leaders: Ban Buses & Rail Cars from Chinese State-Owned or Controlled Firms

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

We’ve been sounding the alarm about the risks that come with allowing Chinese government-owned or controlled companies to build U.S. transit systems like rail cars and buses (and with U.S. taxpayer dollars, natch). 

But hey, don’t take it from us. How about you take the word of four Admirals? And 10 Generals? Oh, and also a former Secretary of the Navy?

Fifteen military leaders wrote to the House and Senate armed services committees this week to urge Members to back legislation to ban companies owned or controlled by the Chinese government from building taxpayer-funded rail cars or buses.

The leaders are particularly concerned about China’s growing dominance in the electric vehicle (EV) sector, writing that China “seeks to gain strategic advantages… by providing aggressive government subsidies to Chinese corporations to lower prices to win business, undermining principles of fair competition and competitive markets.”

They continue:

“If China captures the EV market, the United States’ opportunity to enhance energy security by divorcing itself from an unstable global market merely swaps our reliance on one volatile oil market for a dependence on Beijing for our EVs. Moreover, the infiltration of Chinese technology into the EV sector raises substantial cybersecurity risks that may be difficult to assess and address.”

There’s growing concern on Capitol Hill about China’s role in building U.S. transit, and legislation included in the Defense authorization bill (NDAA) passed by both the Senate and the House before the August recess aims to tackle it.

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Let’s Get This Legislation Over the Finish Line

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Congress is out of session for the August recess, which means that the nation’s legislative business is on hold for a few weeks.

But Members have a packed agenda waiting for them when they return in the fall, including finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It’s a massive bill that authorizes the Defense Department, and included in this year’s version is language that could potentially impact hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and our national security.

No pressure, Congress.

As we’ve outlined before, there are major security and economic concerns about China’s role in building U.S. transit. The Senate moved to address these threats when it passed its version of the NDAA by including language to ban Chinese government-owned or controlled companies from using U.S. taxpayer dollars to build U.S. rail cars and buses.

When the House passed its version, however, the ban only applied to rail.

The reason? Folks like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) support bus maker Build Your Dreams (BYD) – a company that maintains strong ties to China’s government (and has ambitious plans to dominate the global auto market, which threatens hundreds of thousandsU.S. jobs).

Now the legislation is headed to conference, and negotiators from the Senate and the House will determine whether to move forward with the Senate version or the House version. Or, they could very well scrap the language all together in order to ensure passage of the NDAA.

That’s what happened earlier this year, in fact, when similar language was included as part of the fiscal 2019 omnibus spending bill (a.k.a., the legislation that avoided another government shutdown). Because of the complaints of McCarthy, the provision was scrapped and not included as part of the final legislation.

It’s important that negotiators get it right this time.

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What is Currency Manipulation? Why is Trump Saying China Does It? Why Does This Matter?

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

The United States and China have been at odds over trade for quite some time now, but things usually have stayed polite. Tariffs were issued, threats were leveled, but everybody still made a big point to project calm (well, relative to this administration, anyway). President Trump even took pains to talk about how he and President Xi Jinping were totally good friends!

Well, that’s over.

After U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin returned from recent China trade talks empty-handed, Trump pushed things up a level, saying he would place tariffs on all Chinese imports. 

Then after China responded by allowing its currency to drop in value, the Treasury Department said it is naming China a currency manipulator.

If you believe some of the pundits out there, this is really bad — nay, out of control! And it’s pretty serious — the United States hardly ever names a country a currency manipulator. The last time was… um, China, in the early 1990s.

But you might be wondering… what is currency manipulation? What does it mean?

Let’s break it down.

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Biden’s Record Was in the Spotlight During the Second Democratic Debate, Including on Trade

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

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

Well, we made it.

The second night of the second Democratic presidential debates is in the books, and some key manufacturing issues did make it into the spotlight on Wednesday night in Detroit, including trade.

Although this go-around lacked some of the passion featured on the first night — Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are the two candidates who have made trade one of their top issues, after all — nearly everybody did mention it at some point. 

But it was frontrunner Joe Biden who got the most attention. The former vice president and longtime senator has the most substantial policy record of anybody in the race, and his rivals on Wednesday didn't hesitate to attack him on it on all fronts, including trade. And Biden made news, announcing he would "renegotiate" the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which President Trump pulled the United States out of on his first day in office. You'll recall, of course, that the TPP was negotiated under the Obama administration — which was when Biden served as vice president. So, Biden's flip-flop is a big f—ing deal.

Read on for more on what Biden said about trade and other manufacturing issues, as well as the remarks from all the other candidates who took part in Wednesday's debate.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.): Moderator Dana Bash asked the Centennial State senator about technology's role in job displacement, and Bennet responded that the real issue is "how are we going to remain competitive? It's not just about trade... it's about whether we're going to invest in this country anymore." He then argued against the recent tax cuts and trillions of dollars spent in the Middle East, noting that "for all the money I've just described, we could have fixed every road and bridge in this country. We could have fixed every airport... We could have fixed not just Flint, but every water system in this country."

Former Vice President Joe Biden: On trade, Biden's record is mixed. As former President Barack Obama's vice president, he was a vocal supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but on Wednesday he said the deal must be renegotiated. And in 1993, he voted for the passage of NAFTA. But Wednesday night, Biden dodged a question about the Trump administration's efforts toward a NAFTA renegotiation, and backtracked on his earlier advocacy for the TPP. That flip-flopping aside, it is clear Biden thinks the United States should remain open to trade.

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Union Matters

Members of Local 7798 achieve major goal with workplace violence policy

From the USW

Workers at Copper Country Mental Health Services in Houghton, Mich., obtained wage increases and pension improvements in their contract ratified earlier this year, but the benefit Local 7798 members were most proud of bargaining was language regarding workplace violence.

The contract committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. Work quickly began on the policy, and just last week, the committee drafted and released its first clinical guideline focusing on responding to consumer aggression toward staff.

“We are so excited to have this go into effect,” said Unit Chair Rachelle Rodriguez of Local 7798. “This was a direct result of our last negotiating session.”

The guideline includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly. And though this is just a first step in reducing the incident rates and harm of workplace violence in their workplace, it still is a big one for the local, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a collective bargaining agreement.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work