Just the Facts: Tax Reform Will Boost Manufacturing

By | Shopfloor Main, Taxation | No Comments

A recent study from the Institute for Policy Studies seems to assert that businesses with lower tax rates were not job creators. Specifically, they analyzed “92 publicly held U.S. corporations that reported a U.S. profit every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of these earnings in federal corporate income tax.” They then assert that those 92 firms lost 1 percent of their workforce in that time frame versus a 6 percent gain for the U.S. private sector as a whole.

The authors use this analysis to suggest that pro-growth tax reform will not produce the positive employment benefits that its advocates, including the NAM, assert. But, this misses the point. You cannot extrapolate the tax burdens of 92 firms to the larger economy, mostly because there are a variety of reasons why those individual firms might have paid lower tax rates in those years, including deductions for losses in prior years.

The important point—missed in this paper—is that American businesses are at a competitive disadvantage globally, with marginal tax rates in the United States higher than any other major economy. We need pro-growth tax reform—an idea that has bipartisan support. Read More

NAFTA: A Win for Manufacturing Workers

By | Presidents Blog, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Negotiations for revising and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begin today, and American manufacturing workers whose jobs are dependent on exports are watching closely.

NAFTA went into effect in 1994, and since then, the United States has sold three times as much to Canada and Mexico. In 2016, the two countries alone purchased one-fifth of all manufactured goods made in the United States. This is a big deal for manufacturing workers and their families because those sales support jobs here at home—a lot of well-paying jobs. Sales of manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, made possible through NAFTA, support the jobs of more than 2 million manufacturing workers.

When someone says that we need to abandon NAFTA to support manufacturing workers, they have the facts backward. It’s certainly true that NAFTA could use some improvements. After all, it’s more than 20 years old. A tune-up, if done right, could help, especially if it’s focused on eliminating remaining barriers to selling U.S. goods, raising standards to U.S. levels, cutting red tape and improving existing enforcement tools.

Those would be steps in the right direction. However, we should not blame manufacturing’s challenges over the past few decades on NAFTA. NAFTA has been a powerful tool to strengthen our industry and help manufacturers in the United States nearly double our production. It’s other policies that have held us back and discouraged investment in the United States—policies like our outdated tax code and our overreaching, complicated regulatory system. Our declining, deteriorating infrastructure has also hurt the industry and our workers.

So as negotiators sit down this week and again in the coming weeks to determine what NAFTA will look like in the future, I urge them to stick to the facts and help manufacturers build on the agreement’s accomplishments to improve, not weaken, America’s global competitiveness. Manufacturers will continue advocating a stronger, modernized NAFTA so that we can keep growing and thriving here in America.

Environmental Streamlining E.O. Opens Critical Relief Valve to Build Additional Infrastructure

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today, the president issued an executive order to streamline the federal permitting approval process as a part of his infrastructure initiative. Specifically, the executive order will simplify the permitting process to provide for one federal decision that should be made within two years. The executive order establishing discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects can be found here. Manufacturers welcome today’s news and have long called for federal leadership in reducing excessive red tape in the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects. Accountability and transparency for all permitting decisions are critical to achieving a set of best practices and certainty that will encourage additional private-sector investment and efficiency. Infrastructure should build in a period of a few years, not a decade.

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Canton Vote Shows Positive Culture and Collaboration at Nissan

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

Last week, employees at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, sent a strong message by overwhelmingly deciding not to unionize. The campaign to unionize the Nissan employees lasted for months, but at the end of the day, the vote was clear and demonstrates that the positive culture and collaboration between employees and employers at Nissan should continue.

Nissan’s support of Mississippi’s manufacturing workers has helped the industry and the state’s economy grow again. Manufacturing in Mississippi now accounts for more than 143,000 jobs, with an annual compensation of more than $58,000. Manufacturing workers at the Nissan plant in Canton enjoy some of the highest wages, best benefits and most stable jobs in the state.

Nissan gives back to the community, donating more than $13.6 million to local charities and contributing more than 8,000 volunteer hours to more than 200 local organizations. Their investment in the facility has strengthened the county and state. The unemployment rate in Madison County is among the lowest in the state at 3.7 percent, while the region’s unemployment rate (5.3 percent) is less than the state average (6.6 percent) and the national average (5.5 percent).

The campaign is over, the vote has taken place, and now the decision of the employees should be respected so the employees and Nissan can continue on this path of success and good work for the Canton community.

The Business Imperative to Tackle Sustainability Now

By | General, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Sustainability | No Comments

By Cristian Barcan
Vice President of Sustainability and Industry Affairs, The Vinyl Institute
Executive Director, Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council

Proven support of sustainable development is the new business imperative. And it’s not just about being an environmentally responsible company, but also considering the social and economic impacts of your decisions on the communities in which you live and work and across your entire supply chain.

Indeed, a recent Unilever survey found that one-third of consumers today are making purchase decisions based on a company’s environmental and social impact. The company surveyed 20,000 adults across five countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.

Need more proof that you need to embed sustainability? It’s not just consumers asking. Stakeholders and financial markets are asking questions about a wide range of non-financial business drives (e.g., human rights, labor rights, anti-corruption) and looking for this information to be included in annual reports. Moreover, there is a growing list of exchanges that have adopted environmental, social and governance disclosure rules.

Companies must not only embrace the idea of sustainability, but also walk the walk.

Your sustainability journey starts with data.

When it comes to your business, you may think you know what people care about. You might have innovated on the factory floor to mitigate chemical emissions or invested in more sustainable product packaging. Perhaps you have a carpooling initiative or a telework policy to reduce your company’s transportation footprint. You’ve written the story on your blog, put out a press release and maybe even gotten some publicity for your efforts. All good. But what if people don’t care about your employees’ commuting habits but are really concerned about how much oil and gas you’re using shipping products to market?

You have to know what your key stakeholders really want.

Every business operates with a certain amount of anecdotal knowledge. To take your business down a truly sustainable pathway, you need to move from “how do you know” to “here’s how we know.” You need the proof points. You need to undertake a materiality assessment.

The importance of mapping hotspots.

A materiality study is a process for obtaining an overall snapshot of how your company or industry is doing in the environmental, social and economic spheres—and where it could do better. The aim of such a study is to identify the “hotspots,” changes (e.g., emissions, wastewater use) you can put in place quickly to have the biggest immediate payback.

Step 1 in a materiality assessment is to identify the major categories of importance to your company. Think of it as a spreadsheet with columns for the major steps in your supply chain and rows broken down by category. Step 2 is research. This research should start with a literature review to understand what has been published or said about you by your many stakeholders. As you do this, you can start to count the number of times that people focused on “emissions to air,” for example, versus “water use.” Following the literature review, it’s important to interview key internal and external stakeholders to get fresh insights into how different audiences perceive your business and to test your hotspot assumptions against the literature review and what others tell you does and does not matter to them.

Your materiality assessment will give you the data your company needs to make informed decisions about how to prioritize your sustainability efforts.

Led by the Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council (VBSC), the vinyl industry is undertaking its first materiality study. Because it’s an industry-wide initiative rather than a company-specific one, our materiality assessment will include information across nine distinct market segments. The VBSC is hoping to have preliminary results this fall and a clearer picture of our hotspots and where to focus next.