Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

AAM Letter to Congress: Oppose Toomey-Gallagher Anti-Section 232 Legislation

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams

Congress must stand against a bill that threatens to weaken U.S. national security and endanger thousands of jobs fomented by the current Section 232 trade actions, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul wrote to Members of Congress on Tuesday.

The proposed legislation, named the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019 and introduced by Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R- Wis.), would eliminate a crucial trade enforcement tool just as the domestic steel and aluminum industries find their footing following years of import dumping.

In the past several days alone, U.S. Steel announced the restart of operations at a previously idled steel mill in Lone Star, Texas, and construction at another mill in Fairfield, Ala., collectively adding 190 new jobs that will support not only workers and their families but also the communities surrounding the mills.  

Section 232 trade actions have been vital to this recent economic growth in Lone Star, Fairfield and other communities around the country. Indeed, U.S. steel attributed its Fairfield restart to President Donald Trump’s “strong trade action”, which has helped the company, along with other steel and aluminum manufacturers and the workers they employ, recover from years of punishing damage due to import dumping.

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No Trump-Xi Meeting Ahead of Tariff Truce Deadline

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

During his State of the Union speech this week, President Donald Trump declared that any new trade deal with China must include “real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.” It looks like he meant it.

Trump said on Thursday that he does not plan to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this month, withdrawing his earlier far more optimistic comment that he would indeed meet Xi before the March 2 conclusion of the tariff truce.  

This reversal suggests that Trump is disinclined to seek a quick and easy solution to trade negotiations and neglect the broader, more deeply embedded canker of U.S.-China trade talks – the Chinese government’s flagrant disregard for fair trade practices.

As Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul writes in RealClearPolitics:

“The Trump administration should be seeking measurable improvements to China’s industrial policies so that those policies don’t tacitly encourage economic espionage or serve as release valves for Beijing’s intentional industrial overcapacities. It should maintain those tariffs and a strict enforcement regimen to hold China’s attention.”

With news of Trump’s postponement of a meeting with Xi, there’s hope yet that the Trump administration remains attuned to the true goal of the trade negotiations when U.S. representatives meet with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing this week.

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Yet Another Big Reason to Look for ‘Made in the USA’ When Buying Clothes

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza

A new report shows just how murky the fashion supply chain is.

Some people find clothes shopping fun, other think of it more like a chore. But either way, nearly everyone searches for something that’s the right fit in size, functionality and style.

But there’s one more thing you should keep an eye out for: “Made in the USA” on the label.

This label means that purchasing the garment supports American textile jobs and the communities where these jobs are based. Many of these communities have been hit hard by years of offshoring. Besides, clothes made in the U.S. tend to last longer because of their high quality. That means spending less money in the long run.

When our clothes are made abroad, knowing where they’re made, how they’re made and who makes them becomes a lot harder. Trying to find answers to these questions can be disturbing. A recent University of California report shows why.

The report digs deep into fashion supply chains and finds that many fashion companies rely on home-based women and girls from vulnerable groups in India to help make their garments. Many of these garments end up for sale in American and European markets. According to The New York Times, the report finds:

"Most of the women and girls interviewed for the report said they are tasked with the 'finishing touches' of a garment: embroidery, tasseling, fringing, beadwork and buttons. None belonged to a trade union, or had a written agreement for their work, and more than 99 percent were paid less than the state-stipulated minimum wage under Indian law. Minimum wage for an eight-hour work day ranges from the equivalent of $3.08 (39 cents per hour for unskilled work in the state of Rajasthan) to $8.44 ($1.05 per hour for work in New Delhi). According to the report, most home workers received between 50 percent and 90 percent less than they were owed. And approximately 85 percent exclusively worked in supply chains for the export of apparel products to the United States and the European Union."

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Which Was AAM’s Favorite Super Bowl Ad?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Big news outta Atlanta: They had a Super Bowl and the New England Patriots won, again.

Maybe you tuned in for the defensive gamesmanship, but come on: I know you didn’t. You weren’t at that Super Bowl party to watch Bill Belichick raise another trophy. You were there for the food …

… and the commercials. That’s what I tuned in for, at least. But not one of those weird, creepy ones, like that ad from Turbo Tax. I really focused in on this one from Kia.

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The Effects of the Steel Tariffs Flow Upstream

Luke Frazier

Luke Frazier Policy Intern, AAM

Lost in months of debate surrounding the effect of steel tariffs on downstream production are the positive developments happening upstream.

Here are a few examples:

In Toledo, Ohio, Cleveland Cliffs is investing $700 million into a hot-briquetted iron (HBI) plant. That’s certainly good for Northwest Ohio; during its construction 1,200 jobs will be created, and 130 jobs will exist at the plant permanently once its completed.

“This reinvestment will help modernize the steel industry of this country, we will become a major supplier of the most modern product that will move into mills across this region,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to the Toledo CBS affiliate.

"You can’t spend money if you don’t make it.”WENDI THOMPSON

That news out of Ohio is being felt a few Great Lakes away. Northshore Mining, based in Silver Bay, Minnesota, is also getting new investment. This Iron Range production facility will be the mine supplying the taconite pellets needed to make HBI at the Toledo plant. It received a $50 million investment in 2018 and will receive another $25 million this year.

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Why Are U.S.-China Trade Talks a Big Deal? Consider The Case of Micron.

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration is hosting a high-level delegation from the Chinese government for trade negotiations this week. The administration, acting on the results of a U.S. Trade Representative report into widespread allegations of intellectual property theft, has leveled 10 percent tariffs on a broad list of imports from China, and 25 percent tariffs on imports of machinery, semiconductors, and other tech products. And if substantial progress isn’t made during these talks, more tariffs will go up on March 2. As Reuters describes it, those additional tariffs will essentially cover all of China’s exports to the United States.

That’s a big deal if they do – but so is IP theft, which American companies complain is a chronic problem when doing business with or in China. A lot of money gets sunk into R&D, and losing your proprietary information to a rival vying for dominance in your industry sticks in the craws of a lot of American business executives.

There was a big, public example of this that unspooled last year, just as the Trump administration was laying out its IP case against China: the case of Micron, an Idaho-based semiconductor manufacturer that in June sued a state-owned (SOE) Chinese competitor and a Taiwanese company. Micron claims the former hired the latter to poach Micron engineers working in Taiwan and encouraged them to take Micron’s IP with them on their way out the door. It would then be passed to the Chinese SOE.

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For the Brokenhearted, Ohio Manufacturer Brings Sweethearts Back in 2020

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

Before the notion of an exchange of rings to affirm love ever struck you, a Sweethearts candy heart imprinted with “Love U” or some other sweet nothing was likely one of the first declarations of affection that you encountered outside of your own family.

On Valentine’s Day, seemingly everywhere you look, you can find these saccharine heart-shaped missives. Indeed, conversation hearts are the most popular Valentine’s Day candy, according to online bulk-candy seller CandyStore.com, with over 19 million pounds sold each year – 80 percent of which are from the Sweethearts brand. The New England Confectionary Co., also known as Necco, reportedly produced eight million Sweethearts annually.

But brace yourself… Sadly, there will be no Sweethearts this Valentine’s Day.  

I know. I know. How else will you express your undying devotion to your beloved without such pithy phrases and pet names as “Text Me,” “Say Yes” or “Cutie Pie” stamped on a piece of candy to sweeten the burgeoning romance?!     

However, there’s no need for further heart palpitations, Sweethearts will make their triumphant return come 2020 thanks to Ohio-based Spangler Candy Company, averting what would otherwise be a permanent Valentine’s Day tragedy. Unfortunately, Spangler has yet to announce whether the candy will be made in the company’s Ohio factory.

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An App That Makes Supporting Pro-Union Goods and Services Easier

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

The internet has made it easier than ever to find goods and services. But this unprecedented access to options also means that we as consumers must do more research if we want to buy or use services that are ethical.  

An important way in which we could all become more ethical consumers is buying union-made products and using pro-union services. The thing is it’s not always clear what goods or services support good-paying, union jobs.

Finding ways to support good jobs has now become much easier with Labor 411’s new app.

For over a decade, Labor 411 has been “supporting businesses that treat their employees well with fair pay, good benefits and safe working conditions” by highlighting them in their online and print directories. With these valuable resources, Labor 411 connects ethical businesses with conscious consumers. The app now makes their renowned online directories easily accessible in the palm of your hand.

In a statement announcing the app, Labor 411 founder and President Cherri Senders said:

“Labor 411 has always maintained that making smart, ethical choices every time you open your wallet is easy. The 411 App makes the process that much easier.”

With over 11,000 listings, Labor 411 points you in the right direction for everything from restaurants and hotels to gifts and clothes. Although their app focuses on the nation’s largest consumer markets, you can find plenty of businesses that offer good and services nationally.

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Yet Another Sign Tariffs Are Working

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

The United States produces a lot of aluminum scrap each year – the most in the world, actually. But, thanks to Chinese tariffs on American aluminum imports, most of that scrap has had nowhere to go (China is a huge aluminum scrap market.). Thus, it‘s now fulfilling considerable domestic demand for aluminum, which means most aluminum products purchased in the States in 2018 weren’t made anew but composed of recycled metal.

With that said, America's own Section 232 tariffs on aluminum are having their desired effect: more aluminum production in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"The Trump administration’s tariffs on foreign aluminum drove imports of the metal down 20% last year, Harbor Aluminum says, while domestic production rose 20%. Pushing up U.S. aluminum production was the tariff’s intent."

A December 2018 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) corroborates this growth, evidencing a projected 67 percent increase of U.S. primary aluminum production between 2017 and 2018. EPI also cites several smelters that have been restarted or expanded and will create over 1,000 new jobs.

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HGTV’s Home Town Stars Commit to Revitalizing America’s Small Towns and Manufacturing

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

Today’s a big day for Ben and Erin Napier to say the least! Season Three of their hit show, Home Town, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. EST and their Made in USA furniture lines, Laurel Mercantile Co. Home and Scotsman Co. American Heirloom, debut in over one hundred stores this month! 

Though their show centers on refurbishing the homes of Laurel, Miss., the Napiers’ home town, their mission extends well beyond the town limits. As the Napiers state at the start of every Home Town episode, they’re committed to inspiring the revitalization of small towns all across the country. In the couple’s efforts to inspire investment in America’s small towns, they’ve embraced the American manufacturing industries that have sustained these locations.

 “We recognize that our show is about revitalizing small-town America, Laurel, and without small-town industry, mainly American manufacturing, you don’t have small-town America,” Ben Napier said.

Though approached by an endless stream of companies seeking branding and licensing deals with the husband-and-wife duo, the Napiers have chosen to partner with the legendary Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. -- a name that’s already earned a lot of attention in its own right, having been profiled in Beth Macy’s Factory Man.

Rather than join the herd of retailers manufacturing furniture offshore, the Napiers manufactured their furniture, Laurel Mercantile Co. Home and Scotsman Co. American Heirloom, in Vaughan-Bassett’s legendary Galax, Va., factories.

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Union Matters

The Call for a General Strike

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

It’s been only a few weeks since Labor pushed back against the longest, most punishing government shutdown in recent history, but sadly, over the jubilant cheers of victory, the ominous drumbeats of Congress warring in the trenches could be heard again, leaving 800,00 AFGE members pondering if they’ll be furloughed once more.

President Trump’s decided that the ‘Wall to Nowhere’ will be the hill to die on in this inane battle of attrition, government workers livelihoods be damned.  Keeping this in mind, the ominous question should be how much longer will it be before Trump and the entitled imperialists of D.C. realpolitik turn their sights towards millions of American workers, over 40% of whom, according to CBS News data, are one missed paycheck away from poverty?

As we suffer under the grim reality of decades long wage stagnation, no calls for a realistic minimum wage increase to keep the One Percent’s vulture bankers from our doors, nor a social program of Medicare For All, easing the burden of burgeoning medical costs overrunning the populous meager discretionary incomes, the powers that be seem more than willing to shutter government again, leaving scores unemployed, airport safety and security in perilous shape and costing the taxpayers $3 billion to do so.

And while Congress apparently shows no guilt spending an inconceivable $1.45 trillion dollars for 2018/19, to voluntarily spill blood in every conceivable corner of the globe promoting crony capitalism, strong armed acquisition of natural resources and the continuation of imperialistic follies, the long suffering American worker is left sifting through the rubble, limping through countless miles of crumbling infrastructure, closed factories, failing schools, bankrupting college loan payments, mass shootings and scores of broken dreams, leading to shortened life expectancy, drug overdoses and suicides.

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Let's Talk About Wealth

Let's Talk About Wealth