In our regular weekly feature, we’ll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) made it very clear last week where he stands on American jobs and Buy American provisions in state laws—he’s firmly against them. He didn’t veto just one Buy American bill, he vetoed five Buy American bills that passed the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support.
Two labor legislators in New Jersey have shepherded a package of “Buy American” bills through the state legislature. The bills were approved by the state Assembly during the final voting session of 2014. The state Senate passed the jobs-creation package in June.
Government purchasing, which is anything the government might buy from computers, iron, pipes and furniture to services like construction and janitorial contracts, should be used as a tool to promote job creation, wage growth and a cleaner environment for working people. This is especially important given the threat of climate change and the staggering inequality in the U.S. economy. But because today’s trade deals (from the World Trade Organization [WTO] to various Free Trade Agreements [FTAs]) restrict government choices about how to purchase goods and services, the opportunities to use government purchasing (also known as procurement) in this way are limited.
Thanks to what Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller calls a “historic, robust” bipartisan effort, the Texas Legislature approved on Monday a "Buy American" provision for water projects that establishes a preference for iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States. Says Moeller:
Freshman Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says one of his top priorities in the Senate is advancing a “Make It in America” jobs agenda. Murphy, who founded the House “Buy American” Caucus, outlined that agenda in a conference call Wednesday sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future and the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
U.S. voters across the political spectrum overwhelming have negative views of companies that outsource jobs to China and strongly support Buy America provisions, according to a poll released today by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. Voters also say strengthening manufacturing in the United States is a top economic priority and they back the creation of a national manufacturing strategy to better compete with foreign nations that already have them in place.
One of the lesser known facts about free trade agreements (FTAs) between the United States and other nations is that they open the door for foreign corporations and manufacturers to bid on big government projects and services. A Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)—an FTA with the U.S. and eight Pacific Rim nations that is being negotiated now—could throw those doors open even further.
Last fall, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) conducted a 12-city “Keep it Made in America” town hall tour that brought candidates and voters together to talk about the tough issues revolving around reviving American manufacturing, lowering unemployment and getting the U.S. economy back on track.
When the Apollo Alliance released its Clean Transportation Manufacturing Action Plan (TMAP) in October (click here for detailed coverage) one of its key job-creating recommendations was ensuring that American manufacturers and U.S. workers supply the rail cars, tracks and other mass transit equipment to modernize the nation’s mass transportation system.