Category

Shopfloor Policy

Manufacturers Continue the Infrastructure Call to Action

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Infrastructure Week 2017 reached record high levels of participation by doubling both the number of events that occurred in 2016 as well as the number of affiliate members that joined in calling on policymakers to invest in infrastructure now. According to first reports, more than 1,500 people contacted their Representatives or Senators last week alone. Since May 1, Infrastructure made 175 million social media impressions. Our collective voice was loud and it was heard.

To ensure manufacturers hold the President to his commitment to make U.S. infrastructure “second to none,” the call to action must continue from diverse, united stakeholders who recognize that infrastructure is the backbone of a strong, manufacturing economy. We need every manufacturing employee and company to engage in this call for infrastructure, because our work is not done.

Kathryn Karol is the Vice President of Global Government & Corporate Affairs for Caterpillar Inc. She stated,

“At Caterpillar, we believe that every week should be Infrastructure Week. We are pleased that the President and Congress agree that wise investments in infrastructure must be a national priority. Caterpillar and our customers stand ready to deliver on those investments and make infrastructure an engine for economic growth and job creation in the U.S.”

Please keep the momentum of Infrastructure Week going by using the NAM’s infrastructure toolkit to contact members of Congress with emails, phone calls and meetings. The NAM will continue to push for a comprehensive plan to revitalize the nation’s transportation, energy, water and broadband infrastructure. This week, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons furthered the NAM call that now is the time to build with a piece published in the Cincinnati Inquirer entitled Time to act on Brent Spence Bridge and nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

During the fifth annual Infrastructure Week, the NAM, as a steering committee member, led efforts to unite varied voices behind a broad call for infrastructure investment. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave the keynote address at the launch event on Monday, followed by a discussion between NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan on how manufacturers depend on infrastructure. C-SPAN covered the event.

Ingersoll-Rand Chairman and CEO and NAM Executive Committee member Michael Lamach represented the NAM in an interview on CNBC. Manitowoc Company President and CEO Barry Pennypacker authored a Shopfloor blog on local infrastructure needs and represented the NAM in a roundtable discussion with congressional leaders, business executives and Department of Transportation special advisors. Also on the NAM Shopfloor blog, Fluor Corporation Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair David Seaton explored the benefits of public–private partnerships and NAM Vice President of Energy and Environment Policy outlined manufacturers’ dependence on robust energy infrastructure. The NAM co-hosted an official Infrastructure Week Congressional Reception on Wednesday, May 17, featuring Congressional Co-Chairs Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

The Ports of Indiana and American Association of Port Authorities hosted an infrastructure roundtable in Indianapolis that included participation from NAM members Subaru of Indiana, ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Manufacturers Association. The meeting also included federal officials from the Army Corps of Engineers and USDOT as well as the Indiana DOT Commissioner. The discussion was about advocating for major infrastructure improvements, including the Soo Locks and specifically the Poe Lock in Upper Peninsula Michigan which every Midwest steel manufacturer relies on. A Shopfloor blog can be found here.

The NAM’s efforts in combination with the efforts of thousands of other Infrastructure Week participants were extraordinary but we must stay engaged. A comprehensive, pro-manufacturing infrastructure package faces political and philosophical challenges. Despite differences, we must stand united in support of overdue infrastructure revitalization to bolster economic competiveness here in the United States.

Senate Panel to Focus on Ozone Implementation Challenges

By | Environment, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This afternoon, the Senate Environment and Public Works‎ Committee will hold a hearing to examine the implementation of the 2015 EPA ozone standard and to discuss legislation to improve the challenges this new regulation has created for manufacturers. In late 2015, in the face of overwhelming opposition from governors, mayors, economic development councils, transportation authorities and all segments of industry, the EPA tightened the ozone standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb), down from 75 ppb. This move was certain to place counties across the U.S. into nonattainment, essentially turning them into “no grow zones” that businesses typically avoid.

The NAM didn’t like the new standard—in fact, we were forced to enlist our own Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action to litigate the final rule—but if that standard is to stay in place, we certainly need help implementing it. More importantly, we need help now, since the 2015 rule’s deadlines are still running. For many areas, the pain could start very soon.

For instance, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District told a House subcommittee last year that, to reduce ozone, it already has taken such extreme steps as banning residents from using their fireplaces in most winter months and implementing regulations that limit the amount of time lids can be off paint cans. Even with these measures, they will not meet the current ozone standard even if they eliminate emissions from all Stationary & Area Sources, Off-road equipment, Farm Equipment, Passenger Vehicles and Heavy-duty trucks. It’s not just California that has these problems. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources noted in its 2015 comments to the proposed rule that there were no effective control measures left available to the state, beyond those already identified and being implemented, to reduce ozone levels in the Atlanta nonattainment area.

The Committee will examine two bills ‎designed to address Ozone implementation issues: S.263, the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, and S. 452, the ORDEAL Act of 2017.  Both would create a more flexible glide path for manufacturers to comply with the 2015 standard, allowing reductions to continue through 2025 without the unnecessary economic pain of ozone nonattainment. Both would also change the five-year review cycle for new standards to a more reasonable 10-year cycle, which is the typical time the agency needs to complete these reviews in real life. S. 263 also take positive steps to address manufacturers’ permitting challenges as they pertain to ozone standards and requires real examination of the impact of international air pollution on domestic ozone levels.

The NAM looks forward to working with the Committee to fix the implementation challenges related to the 2015 ozone standards.

Energy: A Key Component of a Comprehensive Infrastructure Package

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent report card gave our nation’s energy infrastructure a D+ grade, pointing out that most U.S. energy infrastructure predates the 21st Century. ASCE says aging electricity infrastructure contributed to 3,571 total outages in 2015, and oil refineries have been operating at around 90 percent capacity. The future presents even bigger challenges: a changing electric grid, new technologies and new sources of energy, and changes to where and how energy is being produced will all require improved infrastructure, and it’s not clear that we can keep up. ASCE projects the investment gap for energy infrastructure to be $177 billion from 2016 to 2025.

The NAM’s Building to Win blueprint ‎puts forward several recommendations to improve our energy infrastructure. Recommended actions include:

  • Reform existing laws and regulations to facilitate a more transparent, streamlined and coordinated regulatory process for the siting and permitting of all energy delivery infrastructure, including oil and natural gas pipelines, energy transport by rail, energy export terminals and interstate electric transmission infrastructure.
  • Promote new energy infrastructure investments as a means of increasing U.S. infrastructure’s resilience to climate change by designing for projected future climate conditions. Regulators should work to more quickly approve smart investments.
  • Examine innovative financing mechanisms for new energy infrastructure to encourage private investment.
  • Coordinate underground infrastructure work for road, water, gas, electric and broadband to yield construction savings and reduce traffic disruptions from construction work.
  • Invest in regions without a developed pipeline network to bring down home heating costs in places like New England and make manufacturers more competitive.

‎The NAM has been encouraged that lawmakers are focusing on energy as a key component of a broader infrastructure package. We’ll be at the table working to drive solutions that make manufacturers more competitive.

Yes, Indiana Has a Port System

By | Infrastructure, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

“Yes, Indiana Has a Port System.”

From the crossroads of America, Indiana Ports and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) hosted an important session with manufacturers, truckers, engineering firms, thought leaders as well as state and local officials about maximizing infrastructure investments and strategically positioning and advocating for infrastructure in ongoing national debates.

Indiana is a top manufacturing state in the nation – representing the highest manufacturing employment in the United States – 17 percent of the Hoosier workforce. With manufacturing well represented in Indiana’s economic footprint, investment in roads, rails, Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan and two inland ports on the Ohio River could not be more important. Fifty-seven percent of the state’s border is water.

Due to complex supply chains of manufacturers and just-in-time inventory principles, leading manufacturers like ArcelorMittal and Subaru of Indiana need Indiana infrastructure to perform and to perform second to none. The good news is that the state has made significant investments, raised revenues and supported projects that the business community needs in order to keep competitive. It has a vibrant supply of rail, trucking and waterway services. But these sectors do not operate in isolation.

The challenge however remains projects of regional and national significance that make a system-wide impact on the movement of critical materials and goods throughout the country and world. In Indianapolis, the roundtable participants raised the genuine concern about the long-term condition of the Soo Lock System and especially the Poe Lock in Michigan. The current “Poe” lock was built in 1969 and is at risk of failure. It handles over 90 percent of US-flag vessel cargo passing between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes, including over 40 million tons of iron ore and coal destined for steel mills.

The status quo of the Poe lock and the aging locks on the inland waterway system is a threat to manufacturing because a catastrophic failure will harm the economy and jobs. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Homeland Security report, an unanticipated six-month closure of the Poe Lock would likely result in widespread bankruptcies and dislocations throughout the economy. Over 10 million people in the United States and two to five million more in Canada and Mexico would lose their jobs. North American economies would enter a severe recession. The U.S. recession impacts would be concentrated in the Great Lakes region though California and Texas would experience some of the largest job losses. Entire manufacturing industries would be debilitated, including: automobiles; appliances; construction, farming and mining equipment; and railcars and locomotives.

Indiana and others states are competing against industrial behemoths like China, Japan and Germany. Competition between states will always be around but the focus on edging out the international competition is even more acute. These competitors do not even think twice about robustly investing in infrastructure to support industry. Productivity growth in the United States is central to expanding the U.S. economy, and while, it’s bigger than one industry or one state, more efficient transportation and infrastructure systems are necessary to create an environment that fosters increased productivity. The Infrastructure Week message to the President, House of Representatives and the Senate: #TimeToBuild is vital now. The NAM has produced an infrastructure toolkit to provide manufacturers the resources to amplify this Infrastructure Week message.

FCC Takes Another Step Toward Restoring Internet Freedom

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted today to continue their efforts to free the internet from regulation by moving forward on their “Restoring Internet Freedom” order (proceeding 17-108). The agency is now officially accepting public feedback on the decision. The NAM intends to file comments in support of ending the regulation of the internet. All of you who agree that over-regulation stifles private sector investment and innovation are encouraged to join us in sending that message. The deadline to make your voice heard is July 17.

When the FCC announced the decision a few weeks ago to consider this issue at their meeting today, we made the point then that internet-driven technology is now ubiquitous across all manufacturing sectors. We argued that our industry needs to see continued investment in our telecommunications infrastructure so we can maintain our global innovation leadership position that connectivity to the internet enables. The best way to ensure investment continues to flow is for Congress to act and create clear rules of the road. But today, the decision today by the FCC to begin the process to roll back a 1930’s era regulation will help facilitate that investment and support innovation in our sector.

It’s a timely coincidence that this FCC decision occurred during Infrastructure Week. Industries and individuals from across the country and political spectrum have rallied together and are calling on Washington to work together to address our infrastructure challenges. Broadband is part of manufacturing’s critical infrastructure and the biggest challenge it faces is government policies and regulations slowing its deployment. We encourage you to join the NAM and tell the FCC the time is now to free the internet from regulation and ensure our broadband infrastructure remains the best in the world.

 

Manufacturing, Trade Deficits and Opportunities for Growth

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade | No Comments

As part of President Trump’s March 31 Executive Order on trade, the Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are examining the role trade deficits play in key trading relationships. The NAM provided this detailed submission last week and I am testifying today about opportunities and challenges that trade presents for U.S. manufacturing.

For those seeking the Readers Digest version consider the top four takeaways.

    1. Exports are critical to today’s manufacturing success. Indeed U.S. manufactured goods exports now represent more than half of U.S. manufactured output, supporting more than 6 million manufacturing job across the country – jobs that pay substantially more than non-export related jobs. The U.S. manufacturing sector must have opportunities to expand sales – at home and abroad – to continue to add jobs.
    2. Manufacturing is growing around the world, creating new middle-class consumers and new partners, but also new competitors. More than $11 trillion in manufactured goods are traded annually as markets have been opened and trading costs reduced. In some cases, imports compete directly with manufacturers in the United States, just as U.S. exports compete with manufacturing overseas and many manufacturers require inputs not domestically available. Unfortunately, however, some import competition is fueled by foreign market-distorting and discriminatory trade practices that create unfair advantages for foreign manufacturing production at the expense of manufacturers, workers and communities in the United States. Under these circumstances, the NAM has long supported robust U.S. government action to address the underlying causes of the distortions and full enforcement of trade agreements and trade rules.
    3. The trade deficit arises as a result of several factors. Overall domestic economic conditions and standards of living, domestic consumption and purchasing compared with savings rates, the price of goods in the market, exchange rates, domestic structural issues (e.g., taxation, regulation) and openness to international trade all impact the trade deficit. In the United States, trade deficits expand as the U.S. economy grows and fall during periods of economic weakness. At the same time, however, when the U.S. economy expands, more workers are employed and unemployment falls, we see that the trade deficit actually increases.
    4. As manufacturers see it, many indicators are relevant in assessing the strength and weaknesses of U.S. trading relationships with particular markets. These factors include the existence and implementation of trade agreements, the size of the trading relationship compared to the size of the foreign economy, the growth of exports over time, the U.S. share of the country’s worldwide imports, foreign direct investment, U.S. content in imports into the United States and overall tariff rates. The chart below shows that Canada and Mexico are outsized purchasers of U.S. manufactured goods compared to other sources of imports and given the size of the countries’ economies.

 

 

Conclusion:

As the administration considers next steps, the NAM urges that it prioritize work to address existing distortions and barriers to improve U.S. competitiveness globally through (1) the negotiation of advanced trade agreements that open markets and set strong rules; (2) the modernization of U.S. trade tools to boost U.S. global competitiveness, from improving export financing options to eliminating self-inflicted barriers that impede U.S. manufacturing; and (3) the implementation of more robust trade enforcement consistent with the international rules system to ensure that trade agreement commitments are honored, our innovative technologies are not stolen and U.S. trade rules are effectively enforced. Where trade agreement rules are not keeping up with new challenges and distortions, manufacturers urge U.S. leadership and efforts to develop new internationally agreed-upon rules and frameworks to raise standards and promote a more open and competitive market-driven global economy.

Learn more about manufacturers’ priorities for trade policy by clicking here.

Infrastructure: But How Do We Pay For It?

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

Written by Fluor Chairman and CEO/NAM Board of Directors Vice Chair David Seaton.

There is widespread consensus that America’s infrastructure needs help. It ranks 11th in the world, and the American Society of Civil Engineers has repeatedly graded it a D+.

As noted in the NAM’s Building to Win infrastructure plan, “Without immediate action on the infrastructure crisis, the United States will lose more than 2.5 million jobs by 2025 and more than 5.8 million by 2040.” We have a big job ahead of us; the estimated funding needs exceed $1 trillion. So how do we pay for it? Read More

Manufacturers are Only as Strong as American Infrastructure

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

Blog written by Barry Pennypacker, President and CEO of The Manitowoc Company, Inc.

At Manitowoc’s crane manufacturing facility in Shady Gove, Pennsylvania, countless truckloads of material come in and out our facility every day. Interstate I-81 is a central outlet for those trucks, and any problem with that highway is a problem for our business, our customers and our workers.

And I-81 has problems. Read More

Ill-conceived drug pricing proposal targets one disease – offering no guarantees, only complications.

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Over 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes – one of several chronic medical conditions that have accounted for an overall increased demand for health services as well as increased costs for medical care. Unfortunately, the solutions to chronic conditions are complex and there is no one simple solution. New innovative treatments, advanced therapies as well as a faster route for generics to be approved by the FDA offer some hope. And coupled with aggressive prevention and wellness practices, there can be additional improvements that include controlled costs and improved outcomes. Read More

Keep Innovation Alive and Safe

By | Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the Senate HELP Committee marks up S. 934, Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act. In a March letter to the Committee leaders, the NAM expressed its strong support for a swift and timely reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration user fee agreements covering prescription drugs, medical devices, biosimilars and generic drugs. Manufacturers urge the Committee to maintain its momentum so that S. 934 can stay on schedule, ahead of a September 30 deadline. Any delay of the FDA Reauthorization Act risks future gains in medical discovery and harm to our global standing. Read More