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House Committee Fights Back Against Ambush Elections

The “Ambush Election” rule is back and the National Labor Relations Board just closed the comment period. In a demonstration of how quickly they want this rule in effect, they’re beginning their hearing on the rule tomorrow. Now, this isn’t shocking, given the overreach and radical agenda of the NLRB has been a top concern for manufacturers for several years. The NAM has looked to push back against that overreach in all areas – we’ve been successful in the courts – and legislative solutions are an important aspect of this fight.

We know that the “ambush election” rule will change the way union elections are held, speeding up the process to the detriment of employers and employees – an unnecessary step when the vast majority of all union elections are held in a timely manner. The NAM greatly appreciates the leadership of the House Education and Workforce Committee and their efforts to stem the tide of this overreach. Chairman John Kline has put forth a bill that would protect against the harmfully short timelines of “ambush elections.” Rep. Phil Roe’s bill steps up to defend against the forced disclosure of private information about employee and their families.

Both bills were passed out of committee today – an important step in combating the damage that “ambush elections” would have on labor relations and the fairness of union elections.

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NAM’s Timmons Caps European Tour at Hannover Messe

As the capstone of an immensely successful European trip, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons delivered remarks last night at an event hosted by Germany Trade and Invest as part of Hannover Messe. As the world’s largest industrial fair, Hannover Messe and brings together industrial and government leaders from across the globe. These leaders heard Timmons’ clear message on the importance of the economic relationship between Germany and the United States and the significance that manufacturing plays. Timmons noted that the Transatlantic and Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is a vital component to advance these partnerships and promote innovation, jobs and growth. You can read his full remarks here.

He spoke extensively about the important issues to tackle in the T-TIP negotiations, from regulatory cooperation and market access to intellectual property, investment and cross-border data flows. These issues will take resolve and persistence, but can be achieved if leaders and business on both sides of the Atlantic are tenacious and vocal in their quest for an agreement that will eliminate unnecessary and duplicative barriers and set in place a next generation trade agreement that can set global standards to enable the future of manufacturing.

Manufacturers are ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution and the policies Timmons discussed at Hannover Messe are critical to making it happen. The NAM will continue to build these relationship overseas because they represent the pathway to growth.

 

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NAM Testifies on OSHA Silica Proposal

Today, the NAM testified before an Administrative Law Judge and a panel of OSHA officials on the agency’s proposal to lower the permissible exposure limit to respirable crystalline silica. Joe Trauger, Vice President of Human Resources Policy and Amanda Wood, Director of Employment and Labor, spoke on behalf of manufacturers in all sectors. Their testimony, which you can find here, highlighted some of the difficulties manufacturers will face with the new standard.

In particular, concerns were raised about whether employers will have certainty they are complying with the new lower exposure limit given challenges with testing technologies and inherent error rates with any in-field testing regime. Also of note, is the feasibility of employing engineering controls to limit the risk of exposure. OSHA has estimated the new regulation would cost roughly $640 million for industry to adopt, but business estimates range up to ten times higher.

OSHA’s hearing on the new silica standard is set to conclude on April 4. The NAM has filed formal written comments, submitted its testimony today and will file post-hearing comments with the agency on this proposal. A final rule is expected next year.

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Marlin Steel Moves Forward to Close the Skills Gap

“These is my team, I’m dedicated to their success. We’re all in this together.…  We’re doing our part in Baltimore, we’re doing our part in Maryland. The American manufacturing renaissance is happening, and we’re an example of it.” ~ Drew Greenblatt, President of Marlin Steel and Executive Committee Member of the NAM.

Marlin Steel, a Baltimore based manufacturer of wire baskets and precision metal work has been honored by the Hitachi Foundation for their transformative business practices. Across the United States, manufacturers are struggling to find the skilled workers they need to compete – Marlin Steel has developed a “skills matrix” that has worked wonders for the company and its employees. Greenblatt has invested in his employees and it has paid off in spades. The program  includes: Incentivizing employees by tying training to pay increases and promotions; Emphasizing cross-training, so that employees fit in a flexible production system, allowing them to respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demands; and Creating a career ladder that boosts retention of high-quality employees.

The Hitachi Foundation, along with the Precision Metalforming Association has produced an outstanding video that tells the story of Marlin Steel and its workers. They’re closing the skills gap through innovation and investing in themselves. It’s well worth watching – more than once in my opinion.

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Waste Management a 2014 Most Ethical Company Honoree

Waste Management, Inc., the leading provider of comprehensive environmental solutions in North America has been recognized as a 2014 World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute. The award, which highlights companies that raise the bar on ethical leadership and corporate behavior, is based on five categories –  ethics and compliance program (25%), reputation, leadership and innovation (20%), governance (10%), corporate citizenship and responsibility (25%) and culture of ethics (20%). Only two environmental service companies received this honor, and in a truly impressive note, this is the 7th time that Waste Management has taken home this hardware.

Upon receiving the award, CEO and President of Waste Management David Steiner said “This recognition reflects our most fundamental commitment to keeping the environment–and our people and our neighbors—safe. As an industry leader, we continue to develop strategies to extract value from waste stream to minimize our environmental impact, while at the same time demonstrating a culture where safety and ethics are core beliefs.”

We at the NAM tip our caps to the outstanding leadership of Waste Management and the impressive and committed men and women who work there.

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3D Printing is in the House (Small Business Committee)

Today’s House Small Business Committee’s hearing, “The Rise of 3D Printing: Opportunities of Entrepreneurs,” sounds like the latest sci-fi movie out of Hollywood that spells out a technology-filled future – but those watching the amazing advances in 3D printing know that the future is now.

3D printing stands to benefit all manufacturers by providing another key tool in the toolbox that improves production and delivers products to market faster than ever before. The possibilities are endless and today’s hearing made that clearer than ever.

Stratasys’ Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Jonathan Cobb, testified before Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and other members of the Committee today to educate members on how 3D printing has changed manufacturing in the U.S. what it can deliver for our future. He shared stories of how they helped businesses save hundreds of thousands of dollars in development costs, provided 21st Century design education to students across the nation through STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives.

Mr. Cobb told the Committee, “We take pride in stories like this. To us, they demonstrate that we are not just in the business of producing 3D machines, we are also helping empower entrepreneurs by bringing manufacturing into their homes and workplaces.”

It’s something we should all take pride in – 3D printing will be a big part of the comeback of manufacturing in the U.S. – and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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Cuts to Medicare Advantage a Bad Idea for Manufacturers

Today, the NAM expressed our strong concerns to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about their recent announcement of changes to the reimbursement rates for health plans under the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  Many employers sponsor MA plans as a way to ease the transition from active employment to retirement, and disruptions to the program will jeopardize access to this option. The MA program has absorbed significant cuts to reimbursement rates over the last two years, and CMS’ announcement of further reductions is compounding damage already inflicted on the program.

If implemented as proposed, MA rates will have declined by nearly 11 percent in the last two years. Over 2.5 million retirees count on MA plans sponsored by their employer or union. The majority of the cuts will be passed on to beneficiaries in the form of higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer healthcare options. Estimates indicate premiums could rise by an average of $420 to $900 on top of added cost sharing of $1,750. Millions of seniors and disabled could be priced out of plans they have come to know and depend on.

The final rate letter is due on April 7 and it is our hope that CMS will reconsider and withdraw the proposed cuts and keep the levels flat for the coming year. We need to stop undermining successful programs and begin considering how this will affect manufacturers and beneficiaries.

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SOTU: Innovation Drives Manufacturing Growth

Tonight the President furthered his commitment to manufacturing hubs around the United States, announcing that he plans to place 6 more of them this year.  Manufacturing technology and innovation are the lifeblood behind manufacturing growth, and we have long supported public-private partnership that will spur advancements in manufacturing.

The first two hubs, in Ohio and North Carolina, have the ground floor support and involvement of NAM members and we’re expect that NAM members will continue to lead the way as these hubs progress. We’re committed to continuing working with the Administration on these and other priorities in a fiscally responsible manner.

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ALOM’s Hannah Kain Offers Wisdom to Would-Be Entrepreneurs

ALOM Technologies, is fortunate to have a CEO of vision who has delivered results year after year. Hannah Kain, the company’s founder, has built a business that her customers rave about – and with good reason.

Ms. Kain’s has held various management and executive positions throughout her career and that has led to great success for ALOM. She lends her vast experience and expertise to the NAM as a member of our Board of Directors.

We’ve known about Ms. Kain’s talents for quite a while, but she’s taken her advice public. She was interviewed by SiliconValleyTalk.com where she spoke about the challenges and rewards that come from starting a business. The article offers excellent advice for those looking to follow the path of entrepreneurship and shares where she finds some of her inspiration.

Check it out here and follow Hannah Kain’s advice… “Think BIG!”  Look where it got her.

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Manufacturers Policy Issues a Hot Topic at CES

Connected cars. Smart homes. Health care technology. 3-D printers. We saw all of this and much, much, more from the 3,200 companies participating in the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. Manufacturers had a dominating presence once again this year. What we also saw was a heavy dose of participation from government leaders and manufacturing policy experts talking about how Washington can impact their business.

At a discussion on connected cars NHTSA Administrator David Strickland called CES a must-see auto show and observed that automobile manufacturers have become technology companies. On the panel following his remarks were representatives from NAM members Verizon, Toyota, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. All were in agreement that Washington cannot stifle innovation through regulation. They called for collaboration on issues like data security, privacy, and cybersecurity

FTC Commissioner Maureen Olhausen led a panel discussion on the internet of things which quickly brought to light importance of big data and the airwaves needed to move it. That also led to the privacy implications of this data and who owns it and will businesses and consumers adopt the technology widely. We were pleased to hear Olhausen say that government must approach new technology with “regulatory humility” which ended up being one of the catch phrases of the show.

And of course this issue of intellectual property and how to protect it was on everyone’s mind. The NAM has been very active in this space given the abusive patent litigation that faces manufacturers. FTC Commissioner Julie Brill called for changes to the patent system that improves patent quality and reduces frivolous lawsuits.

Manufacturers are clearly leading technology development in all industries. What’s also clear is that there is a lot on deck for 2014. The NAM and our D.A.T.A. Policy center will lead the partnership with and education of government officials to make sure our leadership and job growth continues. We invite you to join us!

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