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Buy American Jobs

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Efforts by those who never want to hear someone say, “Bye-bye American manufacturing,” converged coincidentally to make June Buy American month.

First, at the forceful urging of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Smithsonian on June 8 opened an all-American-made gift shop in the National Museum of American History. Three days later, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced legislation requiring federal agencies to buy only 100 percent American-made flags.

Then, at the Netroots Nation 2011 conference in Minneapolis, Minn. this week, the AFL-CIO will serve American union-made beer, including Schell’s, brewed in Minnesota by members of my union, the United Steelworkers (USW). The Alliance for American Manufacturing will host at Netroots an American-made fashion show at which it will serve USW-member made Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars. And the BlueGreen Alliance is distributing to Netroots attendees mercury-free, USW-made, energy-efficient, non-curly cue Oshram Sylvania halogen light bulbs.

All these events occurring before mid-June are significant in an era of stubborn 9.1 percent unemployment, a time when 14 million unemployed Americans are searching for jobs. It’s significant because buying American-made products is buying American jobs. And buying American union-made products is buying good, middle class American jobs.

Eight million American manufacturing workers have lost their jobs over the past 30 years as multi-national corporations off-shored factories. But America still manufactures and the prices of American-manufactured goods, including those made by union workers, are competitive with foreign-made products.

Choosing an American-made product, or North American-made to include my home country of Canada where hundreds of thousands of USW members live and work, means supporting North American workers and the North American work ethic. It means buying products manufactured by willing adults in reasonable conditions, not by children laboring Dickensian hours in dangerous factories. It means reasonable assurance that the manufacturer abided by environmental laws prohibiting the poisoning of the air, ground and water by toxic substances like mercury and lead.

The Smithsonian experience provides the perfect example of how buying American-made products purchases American jobs.

Late last year, Sen. Sanders went to the history museum shop to buy Christmas gifts and discovered the presidential busts there were made in China. He was incensed that an American taxpayer-supported history museum was selling American history memorabilia not made in America. He complained.

While the Smithsonian reviewed the situation, CBS news determined exactly how policies like the museum’s injure the American economy. CBS reporters found a Connecticut woman who had to lay off three workers when the museum stopped selling her hand-crafted, American-made jewelry and replaced them with foreign-made substitutes. Before the change, Merrie Buchsbaum’s “Americana Collection” was among the museum shop’s best sellers. Apparently tourists did not find the prices for her America-made souvenirs to be excessive.

When the museum cut her off, Buchsbaum’s sales declined 20 percent, forcing her to furlough her entire staff. Three jobs is the difference between buying American and buying foreign for just one small supplier of one small gift shop.

The Smithsonian changed its policy, converting the gift shop to an all-American operation with 300 American-made souvenirs. Now it’s called the American History Price of Freedom gift shop.

That price of freedom, the Smithsonian said, is higher in some cases when the souvenir is American-made. For example, the custom, hand-crafted American-made mugs it now sells cost $20 instead of the average $12 price for a foreign-made mug in other museum shops. But U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, who is preparing legislation tying the sale of American-made souvenirs to future federal funding for the museums, believes Americans will pay a buck or two more “to have their lapel American flag pin say ‘Made in the U.S.A.’”

American products don’t always cost more, however, even when they’re union-made. ABC news investigative reporters discovered that when they removed foreign-made goods from a Dallas family’s home earlier this year and replaced them with American-made products.

In addition, included in the price of North American-made products is the cost of protecting the environment and treating workers with dignity. It’s the price of morality. The United States and Canada, for example, forbid child labor and institutionalized the 40-hour work week. Both countries enforce environmental protection laws forbidding the devastating pollution countenanced by China and some third-world nations.

For example, the New York Times this week revealed that millions of Chinese children suffer from brain and nerve-damaging lead poisoning from unregulated, polluting factories, many of which produce batteries or smelt metal. The Times reported that the Chinese government in some cases conspired with the polluting companies to cover up the problem, denied testing to nearby sick residents and withheld tests results.

The lead poisoning raises the question of what China is doing about even-more-dangerous mercury, which is used by Chinese companies to make those twisty, energy-efficient light bulbs.

In America, Steelworkers are fabricating energy-efficient Sylvania halogen bulbs that look exactly like traditional light bulbs and contain absolutely no mercury. That’s American innovation, American compliance with moral environmental rules and American union labor creating a superior product.

Who knew, though? All anyone hears anymore is that American manufacturing is dead. American doesn’t make anything anymore. That is just not true. Here are some USW-made, terrific North American products:

Jacobson hats
Cutco Cutlery
Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts
Wendell August Forge pewter gifts
Breyers Ice Cream
Cascades paper towels and tissue
Viva and Bounty paper towels
Depend undergarments and Poise pads
Charmin and Angel Soft bath tissue
Puffs facial tissue
Georgia-Pacific Dixie Cups and plates
Cenveo envelopes
Leader Paper Products envelopes and business cards
All-Clad metal cookware
Regal Ware cookware
Speed Queen washers and dryers
Alberto Culver hair care products
Carrier home heating systems
Enderes forged hand tools
Channellock tools
Ideal Roofing steel shingles
Blanco Canada kitchen sinks
Nestle Purina cat litter
Distinctive Design furniture
Barrymore furniture
Star Bedding, Sealy, Spring Air, Springwall, King Koil and Simmons mattresses
Anchor Hocking glass tableware
General Storage containers
World Kitchen Pyrex glassware
A.O. Smith residential water tanks
Gentek Building Products including windows, doors and vinyl siding
American Standard bathroom fixtures
Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
Fabri-Kal plastic ware
Speakman shower heads
3M O-cell-O sponges
Crown Metal Packaging for food and beverages
Federal White Cement
Shade-O-Matic and Eclipse venetian blinds, shutters and window covers
Valspar pigment for Valspar paints
Lavelle Industries rubber and plastic plumbing components
Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts and accessories
PFERD Milwaukee Brush metal brushes
Alto-Shaam, Inc. ovens and warmers
Shur-Line paint rollers
Goodyear, Bridgestone/Firestone, BFGoodrich, Titan and Yokohama tires.

The tires require caution. Many of those companies have foreign factories that export tires to North America. So the buyer must look for these codes to get American made tires: BE and BF for BFGoodrich, YE, 4D and E3 for Bridgestone/Firestone, UP and UT for Cooper, MD, MJ, MC, and MK for Goodyear and CC for Yokohama. These letters follow the letters DOT on each tire’s code.

In the case of the other products listed, some also operate foreign factories, so it’s always good to look for the Made in America label.

Buy American. Buy American jobs.

Buy American Jobs

5:34 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Buy American

Buy American by sabeth718

Efforts by those who never want to hear someone say, “Bye-bye American manufacturing,” converged coincidentally to make June Buy American month.

First, at the forceful urging of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Smithsonian on June 8 opened an all-American-made gift shop in the National Museum of American History. Three days later, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced legislation requiring federal agencies to buy only 100 percent American-made flags.

Then, at the Netroots Nation 2011 conference in Minneapolis, Minn. this week, the AFL-CIO will serve American union-made beer, including Schell’s, brewed in Minnesota by members of my union, the United Steelworkers (USW). The Alliance for American Manufacturing will host at Netroots an American-made fashion show at which it will serve USW-member made Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars. And the BlueGreen Alliance is distributing to Netroots attendees mercury-free, USW-made, energy-efficient, non-curly cue Oshram Sylvania halogen light bulbs.

All these events occurring before mid-June are significant in an era of stubborn 9.1 percent unemployment, a time when 14 million unemployed Americans are searching for jobs. It’s significant because buying American-made products is buying American jobs. And buying American union-made products is buying good, middle class American jobs.

Eight million American manufacturing workers have lost their jobs over the past 30 years as multi-national corporations off-shored factories. But America still manufactures and the prices of American-manufactured goods, including those made by union workers, are competitive with foreign-made products.
Read the rest of this entry →

For the Strength of Rosie the Riveter: Make It in America

8:23 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

Rosie the Riveter defiantly rolls up her blue work shirt to show off a brawny bicep. She’s a symbol of American strength.

She worked in a manufacturing job, one of millions that constructed the defense machine that won World War II for the Allies. She said, “We can do it.” And America did.

Now, however, shuttered U.S. factories and off-shored manufacturing are sapping American strength. The nation has lost more than 40,000 manufacturing plants and one-third of its manufacturing jobs, nearly six million, over the past dozen years. China is on the verge of overtaking the U.S. in manufacturing output. And Americans know it. Late in April, 58 percent of 1,000 likely voters told pollsters they believed America’s economy no longer led the world.

They also told pollsters they supported enacting a national manufacturing policy to promote resurgence of domestic production — a return to the days of a robust Rosie the Riveter and a country that could secure its independence with dynamic manufacturing capability.

Democrats in Congress heard that message. They’ve created a program called “Make It in America.” They plan to pass a series of bills to create an environment in which both Americans and American manufacturers make it. “We want everybody to make it in America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she described the plan to 2,000 bloggers and progressive activists at Netroots Nation 2010 last week in Las Vegas.

After all the support America has given the financial sector – estimated to total more than $4 trillion – it’s time for Congress to invest in the productive sector, the one that creates jobs, real wealth and American power.

“We must stop the erosion of our manufacturing base, our industrial base, our technological base,” the Speaker told Netroots Nation, “It is a national security issue to do so, if we had no other justification,” she said, adding that there are, of course, plenty of other reasons.

She said the strategy is to pass “one bill after another” supporting American manufacturing. The House started last week with two, one to ease American industries’ access to raw materials and parts and another to improve specialized workforce training.

In addition, Speaker Pelosi said, House leaders want to address currency manipulation – the deliberate undervaluing of currency to make a country’s exports artificially cheap and imports into that country artificially expensive. Currency manipulation by China, for example, is believed by both conservative and liberal economists to be adding as much as 40 cents to every dollar of the cost of U.S. products exported to China and discounting Chinese goods sold in the U.S. by 40 cents on every dollar.

“There is a strong interest in our caucus in holding China accountable for manipulation of currency. That would make a tremendous difference in our trade because currency manipulation is really a subsidy to their exports to America – an unfair advantage,” the Speaker said at Netroots Nation.

Other bills Speaker Pelosi hopes to pass soon include $5 billion in tax credits for domestic manufacturers that produce components for alternative energy and a requirement that foreign manufacturers keep at least one worker stationed in the U.S. so the company can be officially served with court papers. Also, there’s a bill by Illinois Congressman Daniel Lipinski that would require each U.S. president to produce a manufacturing strategy in the second year of office and to review progress annually.

The survey that prompted Democrats to create the “Make It in America” program was commissioned by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and conducted by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman and Republican pollster Whit Ayres. They found that likely voters believed creating manufacturing jobs was more important than reducing the federal deficit and more important than cutting government spending.

The survey also showed strong support for policies requiring the government to buy American-made goods. Similarly, it showed 92 percent of the Democrats, Independents and Republicans surveyed had a somewhat or very favorable impression of American-made products and felt the quality of products manufactured in American exceeded those made in China, Japan, India and Germany.

Americans now even prefer U.S.-made cars: An Associated Press-GfK Poll in April showed 38 percent of Americans favor U.S. vehicles. Asian brands got 33 percent.

Chrysler takes advantage of that sentiment in its commercial for the new Grand Cherokee. The words are chilling:

“The things that make us American are the things we make,” it begins.

“This has always been a nation of builders, craftsmen, men and women for whom straight stitches and clean welds were matters of personal pride. They made the skyscrapers and the cotton gins, colt revolvers, Jeep 4-by-4s,” the ad continues.

“These things make us who we are,” the narrator says. Yes. The things Americans make, make the country strong.

To the sound of a sledge hammer pounding a railroad spike, the narrator goes on to describe the reborn Grand Cherokee, “This, our newest son, was imagined, drawn, craved, stamped, hewn and forged here, in America. It is well-made and it is designed to work. This was once a country that made things, beautiful things, and so it is again.”

Well, not quite. Chrysler may make a terrific Grand Cherokee in Michigan. But American manufacturing needs some help. And with unemployment stuck at 9.5 percent, so do the American people. “Make it in America” is that aid. The AAM poll showed 85 percent of those who said the U.S. had lost economic leadership believed America could regain it.

Americans believe we can still do it.

***

Make sure Congress acts. Join the One Nation Working Together march on Washington Oct. 2 to demand good jobs, as well as Wall Street and immigration reform.

In Trade, Too Often, the Victim is Blamed

8:01 am in Uncategorized by Leo W. Gerard

A screwy thing happened after the United Steelworkers and eight domestic steel producers won their trade case late in December against Chinese manufacturers of the steel pipe used for oil and gas drilling.

Instead of describing it as an important victory for U.S. industry and workers, one in which they proved to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that China violated international trade rules, the media characterized it as Americans unnecessarily picking a fight with the Chinese.

What else is new? It’s exactly what happened in September when the United Steelworkers won tariffs in a trade case regarding imported Chinese tires.

What’s particularly disturbing about this stance from the media is that it occurs only when a trade case involves manufactured goods. The media strongly supports protections for copyrighted material – movies, music etc. The media have made clear they oppose Chinese piracy of intellectual property – you know, like the written and filmed products that media members produce.

But their reaction is completely different when the Chinese violate international rules regarding manufactured goods. Then, the media blame the victims — the U.S. industries and workers – the same way defense attorneys accuse rape victims.

Here, for example, is the Washington Post contending that the ITC decision to impose duties of between 10.4 and 15.8 percent on Chinese pipe heightened trade hostilities between the U.S. and China:

“The current tensions began in September, when the United States imposed a staggering 35 percent import fee on tires from China.”

The Dow Jones Newswire in a story by Henry J. Pulizzi also charged the U.S. with provoking the Chinese by imposing duties, beginning with a reference to the steel pipe decision:

“The ruling adds more tension to the U.S.-China trade relationship. Ties between Washington and Beijing are already frayed by the Obama administration’s imposition of duties on Chinese tire imports and China’s criticism of U.S. moves as protectionist.”

These reporters act like the decisions themselves initiated animosity between the U.S. and China over trade. That completely disregards how the process starts – with China violating international trade rules it had agreed to obey in ways that cause U.S. businesses to collapse, factories to close, thousands of U.S. paper workers, tire workers, steelworkers and others to lose their jobs, and their communities to suffer.

We could sit back and just take it and allow U.S. industries to die, one after another, while China keeps its citizens employed by providing subsidies and supports forbidden under international law to its industries and then selling the goods in the U.S. at prices below production costs.

But that doesn’t sit well with most Americans. They believe their country should enforce trade rules. That is what U.S. industry and unions are demanding. That is what occurred in the tire and steel cases. That is what the United Steelworkers and paper manufacturers are seeking in a trade case to be heard later this year.

Demanding adherence to the rules isn’t protectionism. And the media need to stop saying it is. Here’s how Dan DiMicco, chief executive officer of Nucor, the nation’s second largest steelmaker, explained it, “It is not protectionism when countries are held accountable for the agreements and obligations they freely entered into to have access to the USA and world’s markets.”

In addition to falsely making this a protectionist fight, the media wrongly contend the tariffs were political. Dow Jones, for example, tried to make the unanimous ITC decision in the steel case political, writing:

“The ITC is an independent federal agency tasked with investigating the impact of alleged ‘dumping’ of foreign products on U.S. industries. While its six commissioners are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the decision fits with the Obama administration’s push to address U.S. manufacturers’ concerns about Chinese competition.”

Dow Jones implies here that somehow Obama managed to strong-arm all three Republican ITC members to vote his way in this case. None of the stories suggesting politics were involved in the tariff decisions note that Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama and nine Republican Congressmen joined dozens of Democrats in signing letters to the ITC supporting the duties.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has written that failure to enforce trade laws and compel China to stop manipulating its currency could cost the U.S. 1.4 million jobs over the next couple of years. He describes China’s behavior as mercantilist – supporting industry for export of goods to maintain high employment and trade surpluses.

He quoted economist Paul Samuelson:

“With employment less than full. . . all the debunked mercantilist arguments” – that is, claims that nations who subsidize their exports effectively steal jobs from other countries – “turn out to be valid.”

That is what China is doing to the U.S. – stealing jobs.

The U.S. doesn’t have to let it happen. America can enforce international trade laws. It works. Shortly after President Obama imposed the tire tariffs, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced plans to add capacity to its Findlay, Ohio plant and hire up to 100 workers. Other U.S. tire plants began recalling laid off workers.

American manufacturers, workers and communities are the victims of unfairly traded Chinese exports. They’re fed up with the media blaming them when all they’re asking for is justice.