The Washington Post today published a special section—in print and on the Web—about what some say is a resurgence of “Made in America” manufacturing.
In the section’s anchor piece, Brad Plumer writes that some U.S. firms have “reshored” their manufacturing operations in the United States and that even some Chinese companies have located new plants here. He cites a narrowing wage gap between U.S. workers and their foreign counterparts, lower energy and transportation costs and automation as key drivers in moving manufacturing to the United States.
Apprentices develop, and experienced workers refresh, skills at the International Union of Operating Engineers' state-of-the-art training center in Wilmington, Ill. The Local 150 center houses classrooms, testing labs, welding facilities, an equipment simulator lab and an indoor training arena large enough for 18 pieces of equipment to be used simultaneously.
In this video, meet the apprentices who now hold a promising future and the employers eager to receive a trained workforce.
The U.S. government is currently working with 10 other countries to negotiate the biggest trade and investment agreement (also known as a “free trade agreement” or FTA) in history. It is called the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership. Not only will it be bigger than NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement)—it’s actually NAFTA plus eight other countries.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council called for a “high-wage” economic strategy, a new trade model and universal voter registration coupled with vigorous protection of the right to vote at its February meeting in Orlando, Fla., today. The Executive Council also addressed gender equality and commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington .
In its statement on economic strategy, the council says, “There is something fundamentally wrong with the U.S. economy,” that has resulted in “the stagnation of wages and incomes that has crippled the American middle class for more than a generation.”
At one time it was an economic tenet for America's worker: Work smarter, better, faster and harder and you’ll reap the rewards. That’s exactly what America's workers have done for the past four decades plus. But while worker productivity has soared, workers’ wages have been tightly tethered to the ground. So much that economist Dean Baker writes:
If the minimum wage had risen in step with productivity growth [since 1968], it would be over $16.50 an hour today. That is higher than the hourly wages earned by 40 percent of men and half of women.
Signing more trade deals (also known as FTAs) as a way to create jobs? Meh. Seems unlikely, unless there is a radical change to the current trade model. The current model does much more than reduce tariffs (tariffs are taxes on imports). It also puts in place a bunch of rules that have made it advantageous for employers to move jobs offshore—resulting in unemployment, wage suppression and reduced union bargaining power.
If the United States implemented trade policies to end currency manipulation—especially by China—not only would that reduce the U.S. trade deficit by $190 billion to $400 billion over three years, it would be a major first step in reviving the nation’s manufacturing sector and creating up to 4.7 million jobs, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
The AFL-CIO and Guatemalan labor unions first filed a labor complaint under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement in 2008. In the nearly five years since the complaint was filed, the situation for workers has not improved. They still struggle to organize their workplaces without retribution, they still fight to receive the pay promised for work performed and they continue to be targeted with violence, including murder, for standing up for the most basic of internationally recognized labor rights. The International Trade Union Confederation reports that 10 unionists were murdered there in 2011—the most recent year for which statistics are available. It is long past time for the government of Guatemala to change or for the U.S. government to proceed to arbitrate the case. Justice delayed is justice denied—and for far too long, justice has been denied for Guatemala's workers.
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.