WRDA Progress Continues Ahead of Deadline: Manufacturers Support the Momentum

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently released H.R. 5303, the Water Resources and Development act of 2016. The House legislation includes authorizations for key civil works missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including inland waterway navigation and port dredging – infrastructure investments that are vital to manufacturers and our competitiveness. The bill also aims to ensure continued investment in harbors and includes a provision that ensures the ad valorem duties collected on imports going into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) would be fully utilized for maintenance of ports and harbors beginning in 2027, essentially creating a firewall to protect funds.

Most importantly, this bipartisan legislation shows support in Congress to return to a regular two year WRDA process. Holding a hearing just last week to discuss the bipartisan support for the authorization of 28 Army Corps projects, the Committee is anticipated to move swiftly and hold a markup for the legislation this Wednesday at 10:00am. Senate counterparts in the Environment and Public Works Committee already introduced legislation in April, S. 2848, which has passed out of Committee and is awaiting floor time. Though there are significant differences between the House and Senate bills, there is wide agreement on the need to accomplish WRDA legislation this year.

Unlike the House proposal, the Senate WRDA bill authorizes additional drinking water and waste water resources and provides a vehicle to address the Flint crisis. Senators also included a new program to increase grant funds for drinking water infrastructure through the offering of an optional 3 cent label for manufactured products that in turn generates income for a strictly voluntary Water Infrastructure Investment Trust Fund, a provision manufacturers are concerned will be taken out of context in time and evolve to a mandatory tax.

Manufacturers praise this early authorization effort, well in advance of the September 30 legislative deadline. Too frequently, Congress has leaned on short-term authorizations and extensions for infrastructure, creating a stop-start dynamic that makes it difficult to pursue large projects of regional and national significance. Manufacturers are optimistic that Congress will continue to work in a bipartisan way to advance key infrastructure priorities.

ITC Report Barely Scratches the Surface of TPP’s Impact

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

However you analyze yesterday’s report released by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the fact remains: the global economy requires American leadership and know-how to make it easier to create jobs at home and open up markets abroad. Whether it’s electronics manufacturer Texas Instruments, with multiple facilities employing thousands all over the U.S. and selling its innovative technologies worldwide, or it’s Wisconsin-based Darley with 127 employees, selling fire trucks 100+ to countries including China, Australia, Peru, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Nigeria and Brazil– we need free trade agreements like TPP so that manufacturers of all sizes can continue to compete and win.

Manufacturers need their products sold to more markets, so we can grow more jobs in America. They need their inventions and innovations protected.  TPP will protect and sell American-made goods—and that’s why manufacturers support swift approval of this critical trade agreement. Read More

Pipeline Permitting and the Limits of Executive Power

By | Energy, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The tortured, roundabout, drawn-out process that led last fall to the final disapproval of the Keystone XL pipeline project was equal parts astonishing and frustrating.  After a seven-year process, in the wake of determinations clearly to the contrary by the State Department, and in the face of unambiguous Congressional support, the Administration finally disapproved of the pipeline, finding that it was not in the national interest to approve the project.  Supporters of the pipeline wondered how it could be possible that the Executive branch could have such sweeping authority to kill a private commercial project that enjoyed strong bipartisan Congressional support and which the Administration had previously supported.  The decision clearly appeared to be one based on politics, but was it also one based on legitimate Constitutional authority?   In a brief recently filed by the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, we join TransCanada in arguing that it was not.

In our amicus brief in TransCanada v. Kerry, we argue that the State Department’s prohibition of the pipeline violated the Constitutional separation of powers.  The Constitution explicitly grants to Congress the authority to regulate foreign commerce.  A cross-border pipeline clearly falls in the domain of foreign commerce.  While the Executive branch possesses the implied authority to regulate foreign affairs, which is oftentimes exercised collaboratively with Congress, and has relied upon that authority in this case, it does not have the authority to usurp the power of Congress to regulate commerce, particularly when Congress has clearly and repeatedly acted to demonstrate its support for construction of the pipeline.

While the President has noted that the pipeline crosses an international border, thereby implicating foreign affairs interests that fall within the realm of the implied power of the Executive, the justification offered for regulating the pipeline has nothing to do with border crossing, relations with Canada, or national security.  Rather, the President encroached on Congressional authority to regulate commerce in this case to create a helpful bargaining chip in the unrelated matter of the Paris Climate Change talks.  While this may be a legitimate political concern, it is not a permissible exercise of the foreign affairs power.

Stay tuned as this case progresses through the courts.  Not only are the specifics of the case very important, but in this era of heightened Executive branch power, the underlying separation of powers principles are equally so.

#TruthOnTheTrail: Trade Realities That Campaigns Need to Consider

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

trade-truth-05

Trade continues to be a key topic in the campaigns of both major parties. Unfortunately, the most oft-repeated claims are flat-out wrong and portend a dangerous path of retreat from the strong trade approach that has long been a powerful positive force for American workers, consumers and families. With World Trade Week officially under way, let’s look again at how trade drives the U.S. economy, raises standards of living for American families and grows manufacturing in the United States by dispelling some of the top trade myths.

  1. Free Trade Agreements. If candidates want to take aim at free trade agreements (FTAs), why not go after the hundreds of trade agreements being negotiated without the United States that exclude and disadvantage manufacturers in the United States? U.S. exporters face higher tariffs and barriers than most of the world’s exporters in other countries (ranking 130 out of 132) because the United States has too few, not too many, trade agreements. FTAs are huge market boosters for manufacturing in the United States because they promote fair trade by leveling the playing field. That’s why moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is so important to manufacturers in the United States.
  1. NAFTA. The criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an enduring but deeply flawed myth. The United States implemented NAFTA in 1994 and then experienced four years of economic growth and the creation of more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs. The recession in the late 1990s had a negative effect on the U.S. economy and jobs, but if anything, NAFTA helped the United States endure that downturn more successfully and has been critical to sustaining and growing the U.S. manufacturing sector, which then faced even stronger challenges from Asian emerging economies.
  1. China. It is easy for candidates to go after China as a major villain in the trade stories they like to tell. China is not easy, but it is not a one-sided picture. Yes, China has grown its manufacturing industry heavily over the past 20 years and is now the largest foreign supplier of manufactured goods to the United States. To reach this level, China engaged in a number of unfair trade practices, government subsidization and discriminatory policies. No debate there. At the same time, China also became the third-largest market for U.S.-manufactured goods, from the seventh-largest purchaser in 2002, the year after China joined the World Trade Organization, with U.S. exports growing more than 350 percent to $89 billion. There’s a long way to go in creating a fairer and more reciprocal U.S.China commercial relationship, but it’s a lot more complicated than the campaign promise of putting on new border taxes on Chinese imports, which we all know would be contrary to U.S. international commitments and would likely result in even stronger retaliation against U.S. exports to China. And just a reminder, the TPP does NOT include China.
  1. Trade Deficits. When we buy more imports than sell exports, that’s considered a trade deficit, which is used by candidates as a negative report card on U.S. trade. However, our economy is much more complicated than simple subtraction. Oftentimes, when the U.S. trade deficit is rising, the U.S. unemployment rate is declining and U.S. manufacturing production is growing. Also, the critics conveniently ignore when we do have a surplus, such as the fact that our country sells more manufactured goods overall to our FTA partners than we purchase from them. U.S. manufacturing output and exports have quadrupled over the past quarter century. Trade, boosted by trade agreements, is helping to fuel our economy.

Trade and manufacturing go hand in hand. The United States manufactures more today than we have in our entire history. Trade and trade agreements have opened the door to new global opportunities for manufacturers big and small throughout America, helping to sustain and grow jobs for millions of Americans. Let’s continue to make sure manufacturers and America can continue to grow.

Serving Those Who Serve Us: NAM Staff Presented with Employer Patriot Award

By | Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Yesterday, two members of the NAM team were recognized for their support as managers and supervisors to members of our National Guard and reserve services.  NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg and Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy Robyn Boerstling were presented with the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Employer Patriot Award for Supervisors.

Robyn and Ross were nominated by Jason Melton, a policy coordinator at the NAM, who also is a technical sergeant with the Nebraska Air National Guard serving for 11 years and with the military for 16 years.

“Ross, Robyn and the National Association of Manufacturers have been vital in enabling me to serve the great state of Nebraska and my country in the Nebraska Air National Guard, said Melton. Moreover, their active support and encouragement has been critical to my success and the mission of the Nebraska National Guard and the security of our country. As supervisors, they go above and beyond in their support for my National Guard duties by providing flexibility and exceptional work accommodations while I am away from the office performing military Guard duties in Nebraska and throughout the world. They are deserving of this award, and I want to thank them for their continuing understanding and support of my service.”

The ESGR is a Department of Defense organization created to work with employers and service members to enhance the understanding of the missions our service members perform. With such a large percentage of the U.S. Armed Forces now being National Guard and Reserve, the employer plays a vital role in our national defense.

Ross Eisenberg and Robyn Boerstling are awarded the Employer Patriot Award for Supervisors by the Department of Defense. The Adjutant General of Nebraska, Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac presented the award. Photo Credit: D. Bohrer, NAM

Robyn Boerstling and Ross Eisenberg are awarded the Employer Patriot Award for Supervisors by the Department of Defense. The Adjutant General of Nebraska, Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, presented the award. Photo Credit: D. Bohrer, NAM

More than 80 percent of manufacturers report they cannot find people to fill their skilled production jobs. Meanwhile, thousands of service men and women return home each month, possessing not only an unmatched work ethic but also rigorous technical training and experience.

The NAM and The Manufacturing Institute are committed to connecting veterans to the manufacturing community. Get Skills to Work is a coalition of manufacturing companies and community and technical colleges committed to recruiting, training and retaining veterans in long-term careers in advanced manufacturing and other disciplines.

In partnership with Alcoa Foundation, the Institute has also released an employer playbook on hiring and retaining veterans. The guide, From Military Front Lines to Manufacturing Front Lines: Veterans and Your Workforce,” contains tips and best practices for manufacturers on resourcing, hiring and retaining veterans.

NAM Podcast: The Opportunities and Realities of Trade

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

As the debate over trade continues, NAM Senior Vice President of Communications Erin Streeter sat down with NAM Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Aric Newhouse and Texas Instruments Vice President of Government Relations Paula Collins to discuss what is at stake for manufacturers and their employees in this latest Shopfloor Podcast.

Trade Shopfloor

International trade is more than facts and figuresit’s a critical component of a manufacturer’s story. For Texas Instruments, and companies like it, international trade impacts every aspect of their business. Collins said,

80% of the purchasing power is outside the United States…Just about every employee that works at [Texas Instruments] is engaged in international trade one way or the other…because what we are producing, we are exporting. And there are just myriads of opportunities out there.

Learn more about the changing dynamics of trade and what it means for manufacturers to stay competitive in the global marketplace by clicking here.

Will You Stand with Us to Reform Regulation?

By | Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

35,000. That’s the cost of federal regulations endured by a small manufacturer with fewer than 50 employees—per year, per employee!

I think we can all agree: this isn’t the way our regulatory system should work. It is time for real reform.

That’s why the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, is launching a project called Rethink Red Tape to bring the regulatory issue to life for lawmakers in Washington and provide real momentum for reform.

banner ad_1115x360

Regulations are important, but the constant churn of new and misguided rules leads to regulations that are counterproductive, contradictory and next to impossible to understand. That’s especially hard for small business owners who don’t have the resources to keep pace with new regulations and absorb their higher costs.

Layers of excessive regulations hurt manufacturers’ ability to invest in new innovations, and our entire economy suffers as a result.

To correct this and enable American manufacturers and small businesses to grow and create jobs, regulatory reform has to be a bipartisan priority. Transparency, accountability and honest evaluations of small business costs need to be part of our government’s regulatory calculus. Too often, this is the exception and not the rule.

Through Rethink Red Tape, we’re working to change that, but we need your help to make this work. We need you to stand with us.

Rethink Red Tape will bring personal viewpoints and real-life stories to the conversation to explain the impact regulations have on small firms and the hours and opportunities manufacturers lose because of them.

As our program grows, we’ll identify and advance bipartisan solutions that will change the way regulations are written and give small businesses a stronger voice in the process.

Join us at www.RethinkRedTape.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

What Happens When You Shut the Door to Trade?

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

The fears about an open trading system stoked by candidates and antibusiness NGOs alike are premised on inaccurate assumptions and a misunderstanding of our nation’s history.

From its earliest days, farmers and manufacturers in the United States have relied on international trade to access inputs and final products and sell our products to the world. Our Constitution prohibits export taxes because America’s founders understood something many seem to have forgotten: Read More

jobs

Manufacturing Employment Rose in April after Following Sharp Declines in February and March

By | Economy, Shopfloor Economics, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

The current state of the manufacturing economy continues to be a give-and-take between signs that the sector is beginning to improve versus ongoing challenges related to global headwinds. The latest job numbers represent both of those views. On the one hand, manufacturers added 4,000 workers in April, a positive gain following two months of declines which was led by strength in the motor vehicle segment. Yet, hiring remained soft overall, with 23,000 fewer workers on net through the first four months of 2016. Indeed, manufacturing leaders remain cautious in their outlook, and as such, we continue to see weaker-than-desired job growth. Hopefully, that will improve moving forward, particularly if the manufacturing economy truly is beginning to stabilize. Read More

As World Trade Month Begins, Could We Agree to Start on the Same Page?

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

Trade and manufacturing continues to be bandied about in interviews with presidential and other candidates, achieving a level of national attention that it deserves given the importance of trade to manufacturing. Unfortunately, most of the conversations are totally removed from the reality of manufacturing in America today and both the challenges and opportunities it provides to businesses, small and large, and the American workforce.

As we begin World Trade Month, lets all start on the same page:

Manufacturing Output Is at Record Levels.
In the most recent data, manufacturers contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy. This figure has risen since the second quarter of 2009, when manufacturers contributed $1.70 trillion.

 Trade Growth Has Quadrupled Over the Past Quarter Century, as Has Manufacturing Output (See Chart Below).
mfgtrade blog

Free Trade Agreements, Such as NAFTA and Those with 18 Other Countries, Have Been Vital to Grow Manufacturing in America

Manufacturers in America sell 12 times more to our 20 free trade agreement (FTA) partners than to the rest of the world, even though they represent only 6 percent of the world’s consumers. The United States has a trade surplus overall with its FTA partners if that’s how you want to judge the relationship.

Exports FTA
MFG Trade Balance

 

Manufacturing in America Will Lose to Foreign Competitors if the United States Does Not Move Forward Aggressively with New Trade Agreements, Such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement.

Other countries are more aggressively negotiating trade agreements that exclude and hurt the United States, meaning U.S. exporters face higher tariffs than most other countries in the world:

Tariffs Faced By Ranking Countries

A robust U.S. trade policy to grow manufacturing in America must open foreign markets, ensure strong trade enforcement and improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in the face of substantial global competition. Click here to learn more.