Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

So This Is How General Motors Repays Decades of Hard Work?

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

More than 14,000 jobs in North America will be eliminated should General Motors proceed with its plans to idle plants in Lordstown, Ohio; Detroit and Warren, Mich.; and White Marsh, Md. Doing so would abandon the workers who have served the company so well and the communities that depend on the economic benefit of the plants’ valuable manufacturing jobs.

But these jobs can be saved!

During a recent appearance on C-SPAN, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul stressed that GM can elect to bring production of its more in-demand vehicles to the idled plants if it wishes to honor its workers’ loyalty.

“The company ought to be investing in [workers],” Paul said. “It seems like GM is putting the interest of its shareholders way far ahead of its stakeholders, and its communities and its workers. And there has to be a little more balance to that.”

Following a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra, Ohio Sens. Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) both urged GM to act on opportunities to bring new production to the plants.

“Just as the workforce has stood with General Motors over the years, we expect GM to stand with these workers — and give them a chance,” Portman said.

 Considering long-term solutions to GM’s problems and those of similar companies, Paul highlighted the need for corporate boards to attend to their workers as well as their shareholders.

“Our companies are just so driven by quarterly earnings that they lose sight of what makes them sustainable over the long run. So, as you saw with GM, they announced 15,000 job cuts -- their stock price goes up, and there’s something very perverse about the incentives that are built into that system. I’m not saying that we throw it out, but I think there are ways to mitigate that.”

In an opinion piece for The Hill, Gary Jones, president of the United Automobile Workers, which has formally challenged GM’s plans, indicts the company’s greed.

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The Ripple Effect of Job Losses in a Community

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

Last week, GM's announcement that it will cut more than 14,000 jobs and close seven factories dominated national headlines. This move carries heavy and broad economic consequences for the regions it impacts. But we can’t forget about the human costs: suddenly without jobs, workers will have to cope with financial uncertainty that strains families and communities alike.

GM’s decision is yet another example of how some inconsiderate corporate boards take workers and the communities for granted. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) couldn’t be clearer in calling out this lack of respect:

“The workers at Lordstown are the best at what they do, and it’s clear once again that GM doesn’t respect them. Ohio taxpayers rescued GM, and it’s shameful that the company is now abandoning the Mahoning Valley and laying off workers right before the holidays. Even worse, the company reaped a massive tax break from last year’s GOP tax bill and failed to invest that money in American jobs, choosing to build its Blazer in Mexico.”

Despite taxpayer dollars rescuing GM and tax cuts helping the company further, their way to say “thanks” seems to be to pack up and go, leaving behind an economic catastrophe for impacted communities to clean up for themselves. To add insult to injury, a report shows the company didn’t even have the decency to warn employees of the closures ahead of time.

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Trump Administration Positions for a Tougher Stance in U.S.-China Trade

As both the American and Chinese trade teams digest commitments made during President Donald Trump’s dinner meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 Summit, it’s still unclear what exactly will come from the 90-day pause on tariff increases.

However, news that United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is leading point for this next phase of U.S.-China trade negotiations suggests that the Trump administration is renewing its commitment to ending China’s unfair trade practices, which have long gone unchecked.

Lighthizer has an extended history of criticizing Chinese trade, opposing the country’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

This November a 53-page report released by the Office of the United States Representative detailed the unfair trade and intellectual property policies that advantage Chinese industry and found that these practices are ongoing despite China’s promises:  

“As the evidence gathered in this update demonstrates, China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.”

Just how much Lighthizer will be able to accomplish in this short period of time during which trade talks will take place is unclear – resolving over 20 years of unfair trade practices over the course of 90 days sounds tricky, to say the least --- but he’s pulled off tight deadlines before. 

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Senator Presses FTC to Enforce Consequences for Made in USA Labeling Violators

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Writer/Researcher, AAM

Companies that deceptively market their products as Made in USA capitalize on the hard work of those committed to sustaining American manufacturing and the good-paying jobs the industry supports.   

Concerned by reports of this heinous form of fraud, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) recently pressed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to account for the lack of consequences in cases of false “Made in USA” labeling.

Earlier this year, the FTC found three companies had flouted the agency’s Made in USA labeling laws, but the agency did not impose any consequences for these companies.

“[Fraudulent Made in USA claims are] fairly prevalent,” said FTC Chairman Joseph Simons in response to Capito’s questioning during the Nov. 27 Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing. “We get hundreds of complaints a year that people are improperly using the ‘Made in USA’ label. We are committed to investigating those.”

Though the FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra called the labeling violations “brazen and deceitful,” naming these companies alone, as the agency has done, is insufficient to safeguard the integrity of the Made in USA label.  

With the aim of further disincentivizing Made in USA fraud, Simons stated that the FTC is evaluating how it might apply financial penalties.  

“As a general rule, we’ve only gotten injunctive relief in cases like this previously. But now we’re exploring whether we can find a good case that would be appropriate for monetary relief -- to serve as an additional deterrent,” Simons said.

Chopra added that the impact of this deceptive marketing has ramifications beyond consumers.

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Automation Augmentation Enhances Workers’ Roles in Factories

Melissa Gilliam

Melissa Gilliam Intern, AAM

Automation often takes the blame for lost manufacturing jobs when automation might be a key component in revitalizing manufacturing! We know years of trade imbalances and competition with China have contributed to the large-scale job loss of manufacturing in addition to a 2018 study conducted by W.E. Upjohn Institute Vice President and Director of Research Susan N. Houseman.

Debunking the Myth “Automation Causes Job Unemployment”

Houseman's research reveals how manufacturing has suffered when a sub-sector of manufacturing, the computer industry, was factored out of the research… though not due to automation as widely believed.

The strength of real manufacturing output is nearly dominated by computer and electronic products. The study found manufacturing’s real GDP growth was 63 percent of the average private sector from 2000-2016. When the numbers from the computer industry was dropped from the data, manufacturing’s real GDP growth was only 12 percent of the average private sector, which reveals obvious disparities in manufacturing industries and suggests automation is not the cause of manufacturing job loss.

Houseman encourages economists to not dismiss trade and the role it has had in manufacturing jobs, productivity and investment. “Economists and politicians who deny the effects of globalization on U.S. manufacturing are standing in the way of a much-needed, better informed debate over trade policies,” she writes.

How Can Automation Help?

In 2017, the highest rate of industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees were all found in countries known for their robust, high value-added manufacturing sectors such as South Korea, Japan, Germany, Italy- and Sweden. The United States comes in at seventh on this list.

Automation should be designed to work with workers to enhance manufacturing, not dominate manufacturing. The integration of technology and manufacturing is good for both employees and employers. Technology is not a direct substitute for labor.

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The 2018 Made in America Holiday Gift Guide

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is thrilled to unveil our 2018 Made in America Holiday Gift Guide, which features picks from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As in past years, the guide includes a variety of gift ideas at every price point and shines a spotlight on companies that support U.S. jobs and the local economy. The best part? Many of the ideas come from readers like you! 

We think there’s something for everyone on the list. But if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, head over to our Made in America Directory, where you can search for gift ideas by state or product type. You can also check out past gift guides, which are linked at the bottom of this year’s guide.

Happy Holidays – and happy shopping!

—Team AAM 

ALABAMA

From the Cotton State comes the aptly named Red Land Cotton, makers of 100 percent North Alabama cotton bedding, bath towels and home décor. This family luxury linen business is entirely Alabama grown and manufactured, giving credence to “Sweet Home Alabama.” 

Bonus: Earthborn Pottery produces a full line of dishes, plates and bowls that are all handmade and reflect Alabama’s natural colors, including the deep red of the fertile Alabama soil. 

ALASKA

Apocalypse Design has been outfitting adventurous Alaskans since 1983, and its clothing and gear are made to be used in the planet’s toughest conditions. If you are looking to stay warm in below-freezing temperatures, this is a must-stop shopping site. All products are manufactured in Fairbanks. 

ARIZONA

Cheri’s Desert Harvest has an eclectic mix of affordable products ranging from skin oils harvested from the Arizona desert to fruits, syrups and mixers that will give you that Southwest desert feel and taste. Products contain no artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives. Reader Pick

Bonus: Based in old-town Scottsdale, Giving Bracelets offers affordable leather bracelets and leather handbags. The bracelets are made from the leftover leather used to manufacture the bags, and 10 percent of each purchase goes to charity. 

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Pet Body Armor: Protect Your Furry Friends With This Tough American-Made Vest

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

Growing up in the Southwest, you get used to seeing coyotes prowling around yards and driveways at dawn and dusk. You know to keep your distance, but our four-legged friends don’t always get the memo. 

In 2016, the Espinoza family had a close call. During an early morning walk, our 9-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Chiquita (like the bananas!), lunged at some bushes along a wilderness trail. It turns out a coyote was lurking in the brush -- maybe waiting for its next meal.

After a terrifying brawl, the coyote fled. To our surprise, Chiquita ran back with minor bite marks that landed her in a vet-ordered quarantine for 10 days for potential rabies. She ended up fine, but it was too close a call.

Sadly, not everyone’s pooch is so lucky. For Paul Mott, Pam Mott and Nicole Mellom, the loss of their beloved Buffy to a coyote was an unforgettable tragedy. But they soon turned tragedy into something inspiring. They went on to create CoyoteVest: Pet Body Armor.

These lightweight, American-made Kevlar vests are studded with sturdy metal spikes and flexible plastic whiskers to keep coyotes, and even raptors, at a distance.

As Chiquita’s vet said after the attack, coyotes usually aim for the backs and necks of smaller animals. The CoyoteVest shields those exposed areas, so predators aren’t tempted to get an inch closer.

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Trade Deal Procurement Rules Level the Playing Field

Brian Lombardozzi Vice President for State Governmental Affairs , AAM

According to a recent PoliticoPro article, "New NAFTA deal partly channels Trump’s ‘Buy American’ pledge", the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) “would put a patchwork of different systems in place, making it harder for some businesses to sort out how to fulfill the work they will do for the government.”

The deal includes procurement rules only for trade between the United States and Mexico, reporter Doug Palmer notes. World Trade Organization (WTO) procurement rules will cover such trade between the U.S. and Canada, and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) rules will cover such trade between Mexico and Canada. 

A little convoluted? Maybe, I guess, but only out of context; trade agreements are always textbook-thick, and similarly complicated. Confusing or not, the fact remains: The U.S. economy and its government procurement market are among the most open in the world. Some insist that “Buy America” preferences in taxpayer-financed government spending are “protectionist” policies that lead the United States to the precipice of an international trade war. But the opposite is true: Buy America preferences are an important (and legitimate) lever to open foreign procurement markets for U.S. products.

Buy America is a longstanding practice by the federal government, as well as many state governments, and it is well-understood by contracting officers and bidders on public projects. Dozens of states have similar laws that create a procurement preference for American-made goods when they are available in a sufficient quality and quantity and are competitively priced in the global marketplace. For example, New York and Texas just passed bills requiring American-made iron and steel for certain projects including transportation and water infrastructure. If goods are unavailable from domestic sources or the cost of the goods from domestic sources is unreasonable, the preference may be waived. And yet the sky hasn’t fallen.

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Midterm Results Are In, But 3 Big Manufacturing Questions Remain

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher and Writer, Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Donald Trump, the professed master of “the art of the deal,” certainly has some bargaining ahead of him when the newly-elected Congress convenes in January. However, with broad bipartisan support from voters, manufacturing promises to be the perfect opportunity for a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate to find common ground and help the American worker.

We’ve outlined three major questions for the 116th Congress to consider as it tackles manufacturing issues.

1. What’s next for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)?

The greatest question when it comes to passage of the USMCA is whether the U.S. will replace tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel with quotas – though Canadian President Justin Trudeau has affirmed that Canada’s agreement to the deal is not dependent on this. When the deal comes to Congress, labor standards implementation questions could delay passage.  

As for other trade fronts, U.S. strategy in addressing China trade cheating looks likely to stay on the course Trump set – an approach that the public is willing to see through as well.   

2. Will infrastructure get its due attention and action?

Infrastructure may finally -- FINALLY! -- come to the forefront of Congressional objectives.

Trump has long promised an infrastructure plan, but efforts to solidify these promises and bring them to fruition have left much to be desired. With House Democrats putting infrastructure investment at the top of their to-do lists, hope is mounting that the combined effort of the White House and Congress can build momentum into action.

Though Democrats’ plans for funding are likely to differ from what Trump envisions, long overdue infrastructure investment would be a win for the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the economy and workers. (Every $1 billion in transportation infrastructure investment would create over 21,000 jobs, according to a 2014 report.)

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Endowment to America’s Only Textile College Recognizes Importance of U.S. Manufacturing

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher and Writer, AAM

With 700 textile manufacturing facilities and over 35,000 workers, North Carolina’s textile mill industry is one of the largest in the U.S., a reputation that North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles has helped build since 1899. 

Thanks to a former student's generous donation, the college continues to serve as a hub for cutting-edge textile research and development, and as a supplier of workforce talent. 

The school announced a $28 million gift, the largest gift in the college’s history, from alumnus Frederick Eugene Wilson Jr. and his family on Nov. 2. In the family’s honor, the school was renamed the Wilson College of Textiles. 

Wilson emphasized that his gift demonstrates his faith in the future of U.S. manufacturing:

“When we were talking to the chancellor about the college and about it being the only college of textiles remaining in the U.S., a light bulb really went off. Somebody’s got to draw a line in the sand. We’ve got to remember what got us here and recognize where we can go in the future. I’m happy that we could be the ones to do that.”

The Wilson College of Textiles is the only American college exclusively dedicated to the study of textiles and frequently partners with manufacturers and federal agencies, sponsoring the growth of manufacturing jobs throughout the state and country.

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Union Matters

What's Wrong with GM?

Corporations’ stranglehold on our economy was put on further display last week, when General Motors announced it was laying off up to 14,000 workers across North America.

On a special episode of “State of the Unions,” co-host Tim Schlittner talked with AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Executive Director Brad Markell, a lifelong UAW member, about what the layoffs say about the state of the economy as a whole:

Tim Schlittner: “Reading the CEO’s statement, Mary Barra, where she says this is about making GM agile, resilient and profitable, then thinking about all the stock buybacks, thinking about some of the incentives they got in the tax law that just passed. Mary Barra made about $22 million last year—that’s 295 times more than the GM median employee—my feeling is like this is crap. That’s just a crap excuse for hoarding more at the top, at the expense of the workers that make GM go. Am I wrong to say that?”

Brad Markell: “I think there are a couple issues there from my point of view. Mary Barra makes a lot of money and executive pay is out of control in this country. Part of what’s the problem with executive pay is how is it incentivized? It’s not that Mary Barra making $22 million is going to kill the company. It’s what does she do to get there, right? What does she do to make those cuts and—and those things that Wall Street wants to see because so much of it’s stock options—so instead of playing to the real economy, you’re playing to Wall Street. That’s a problem.”

Tim Schlittner: “And the stock went up that day. So Wall Street saw this decision to close these plants and basically took that as a positive sign, which shows to me an economy that is completely out of whack.”

Take a listen to the full episode here.

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Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?

Who Really Pays for Tax Cuts?