Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

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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Trump’s China Plans Are Muddy, but IP Tariffs Are Still the Right Call

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration today announced a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, which it has identified as having profited from intellectual property (IP) theft.

This has been an expensive problem for years. The Obama administration went to work on it; President Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed in 2015 that “their governments would refrain from computer-enabled theft of intellectual property for commercial gain,” a year after it indicted Chinese military officers for engaging in industrial espionage against American companies.

With all due respect to that administration, it hasn’t worked. Chinese-sanctioned cyber-theft, either by hacking or of the "legal" variety – when foreign firms that want Chinese market access are forced to partner with a domestic company and share IP, for example – continues.

In comes the Trump administration, making good on a tariff threat it had telegraphed for months.

While that threat has been clear, Trump’s wider approach to his China trade policy has been muddy. Many observers focus on the erstwhile steak salesman’s preference for unilateralism, but what’s more concerning is his willing confluence of trade and security.

And it’s hard to say what we’re getting out of it. Remember a couple of weeks ago? When Trump went out of his way to bail out a Chinese telecom giant his administration had just banned from purchasing American technology? A telecom giant that repeatedly broke U.S. law and is considered by the American intelligence community to be a passthrough for China’s spies? That was an enormous bone thrown to President Xi (still around, now probably president for life) and it hasn’t resulted in anything useful – and increased soybean exports don’t count.

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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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President Trump Is Officially Reviving ZTE

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it cut a deal with the Chinese government to rescue ZTE, the giant telecommunications firm that has become an important sideshow in the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced its details: A $1 billion fine (with another $400 million held in escrow). A team of export-control compliance officers chosen by the U.S. government will embed in the company (at ZTE’s expense), and ZTE’s entire board of directors and senior leadership must be replaced within a month.

Does this sound good? Not everyone in America is so sure!

As of this morning, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is on the record: We don’t think this is a good idea. AAM President Scott Paul said, “A Chinese state-owned firm that has repeatedly violated sanctions protocols shouldn't be part of the telecommunications architecture of the United States, period.”

Kinda hard to argue with that. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are making similar observations. (Schumer said the president is "shooting blanks." Ouch!) And media observers are having a hard time wrapping their heads around this move too – because it’s not exactly clear what the payoff is here for the United States:

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The Next Generation of Factory Workers Prepare to Take the Helm

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

The faces of steel are getting younger.

In recent years, the median age of a steelworker at America’s mills has been estimated to be in the 50-to 55-year-old range. The dramatic slowdown in the American steel industry prevented some new hiring and caused layoffs, leaving the mills to depend mostly on workers with experience of 30 years or more.

But as the steel industry rebounds, many tenured workers are retiring, and the inevitable changing of the guard is taking place. Younger workers – some with college degrees – are discovering that a modern steel mill provides jobs in advanced manufacturing that also come with good pay and benefits.

Rick Pietrick of Cleveland is one of them.

Pietrick started working production jobs at Cleveland’s thriving ArcelorMittal steel mill at the age of 28. Now 32, Pietrick is on an upwardly mobile path and has embraced the mill and the United Steelworkers (USW) union in a way he never thought possible.

“Once I got in there, I realized I really loved working in the steel mill,” Pietrick said.

After three years as a production work laborer, Pietrick was accepted into an apprenticeship program, and one year later became a certified electrician working in the steel production area of the plant.

“Before I worked with the union in the steel mill, I worked 60 hours plus and worked in my home to make enough money to have the best things for my family,” Pietrick said. “Now with this union job in the steel mill, I am able to work a reasonable shift, learn a craft and I have excellent health care.”

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This Bill Would Help U.S. Shipbuilding Set Sail

Kyndal Sowers Intern, Alliance for American Manufacturing

It was a great showing of bipartisanship last Tuesday, May 22 when Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, announced the introduction in the House of Representatives of H.R. 5893, the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act of 2018.

The legislation is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to require a certain percentage of liquified natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports be transported on U.S.-built and U.S.-flagged vessels. The bill seeks to solve a critical national security problem, reduce costs for our Navy shipbuilding program, build 50 new U.S. tankers -- while creating thousands of manufacturing and maritime jobs by 2040. The bill is being introduced in the Senate by Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime and Transportation, joined Sen. Wicker and Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to unveil the bill at a Capitol Hill press conference.

"This would result in the domestic construction of over 50 vessels, which would expand and enhance our industrial base, create thousands of jobs . . . and develop the shipbuilding capabilities vital for our national security," said Rep. Garamendi.

The United States is expected to be the world’s third largest producer of LNG for export, which would require roughly 100 carriers. Also, crude oil exports could reach 3.64 million barrels per day by 2025, which would require 180-380 oil tankers. Congress should leverage increases in LNG and crude oil exports that will bring new industries and American jobs to our shores by passing this bill.

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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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The Case for Tariffs

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

There is growing bipartisan agreement that China cheats at trade. We’re now faced with a new question: Do we continue to ignore China’s cheating or do we finally act decisively to stop it?

The only progress the U.S. has ever made with serial trade cheats has been the result of extraordinary pressure applied by Congress and the White House, including, but not limited to, the threat of tariffs. We must therefore stick together. Now is not the time for Washington to demonstrate to the governments of China, Russia, or other mercantilist nations that our resolve is anything less than strong and unified.

The past 20 years of endless dialogue with China and other nations show that polite requests to curtail state-driven industrial overcapacity or to refrain from forced technology transfers and joint ownership partnerships in exchange for market access do not yield meaningful results.

China is not holding up its end of the bargain, at the WTO or via its bilateral relationships, and kicking the can further down the road is simply not a smart trade policy strategy.

This is true particularly in the steel sector, where the United States has for years worked at the OECD and for the last two years at the Global Forum on Steel Overcapacity to address these serious problems and achieve enforceable multilateral disciplines. But these efforts have not produced meaningful results and we cannot afford to wait any longer.

As time has passed, our bilateral trade deficit with China has surged to unthinkable levels. The theft of our intellectual property has inflicted serious injury and dampened our future economic outlook. China’s industrial overcapacity has spread like a virus through global markets, putting at risk our ability to produce essential materials like steel and aluminum for our national security and domestic preparedness requirements.

Regrettably, our trading partners have refused to act.

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Headed Outdoors This Summer? Check Out These 10 Made in USA Companies

Graham Turner Intern, AAM

Memorial Day Weekend is almost upon us, and as the weather warms up, people across the country are gearing up for some outdoor fun. Whether it’s summiting the nearest peak or simply relaxing at the park, here are some outdoor products to kickstart your summer, all made by companies that support local manufacturing and job creation.

New York's Nalgene is a maker of iconic water bottles that have a strong connection to adventure and the outdoors. These bottles come in many shapes and colors, and are billed as indestructible. So, no worries if you drop one down off the face of a cliff — it should be good as new once you get back to ground level.

Allegiance Footwear crafts incredibly durable boots for field, farm, and fashion. Proudly made in Mountain City, Tenn., all the company's products are labeled as Made in USA.

If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop online store, check out Cascade Designs. This brand is based in Seattle, born out of the ashes of Boeing’s massive worker layoff in 1971. They’re now a parent to a handful of outdoor-focused companies, including the mega-outfitter MSR.

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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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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