As the Ways and Means Committee finished the work of amending the House tax reform bill, Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) stated that efforts are already underway to begin consideration of legislation to address key Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes that are set to go into effect in 2018. This includes both the job-killing medical device tax and health insurance tax (HIT). In a statement, Chairman Brady promised, “We will move to these important health policies separately and immediately after conclusion of our tax reform efforts.” To read the full statement, click here. Read More
By David Johnston, manufacturing manager metal supply at Arconic
Every day, thousands of veterans retire from the military, struggling to match their passion with their next career move. Many don’t fully recognize that the skills they’ve honed, the experiences they’ve had and the values they’ve lived during their service are those that can translate extremely well to manufacturing careers. Smart hiring managers are the ones that commit time and resources to hiring and advancing veterans in the workplace because they recognize the unique assets we veterans offer.
While we know firsthand what our military brothers and sisters are capable of and how valuable their insights are, helping America’s military veterans transition into manufacturing is easier said than done. By working together throughout the manufacturing supply chain to develop a strong network of veteran ambassadors who can lead the charge, we can make a compelling case that attracts the best and brightest veteran talent to a wide range of manufacturing jobs.
As veteran ambassadors, we each play a critical role that positively impacts the lives of other veterans. Today, The Manufacturing Institute and Arconic Foundation released a video that highlights the value veterans bring to the manufacturing workforce and encourages veterans to explore the career options available in manufacturing. The video shows a real, tangible example of Arconic’s veterans resource group at work, helping our employees adjust to civilian life, and ultimately, finding a home at Arconic.
At Arconic, we are committed to helping veterans prepare for success in their civilian careers; we are present across the United States at military recruiting fairs and transitioning summits; we direct support to military spouses; make available community volunteering opportunities that extend veterans’ service into their communities; and engage newly hired vets in special onboarding experiences. Our aim is to make the best possible use of their skills and create an environment of inclusivity. The company supports an employee resource group (ERG) for veterans and non-veteran allies at our locations around the world. In military terms, the veterans ERG is a “force multiplier” for Arconic.
Leadership. Team deployment. Project management. Supply chain expertise. Technical and engineering skills. Loyalty. Goal orientation. These are just some of the skills that are unique to veterans and highly valuable in today’s advanced manufacturing environment. With the right support and knowledge of what veterans bring to the table, American manufacturing stands to gain so much from these individuals in their post-military careers.
By Diane Wilhelm, chief engineer advanced manufacturing, Harley-Davidson Motor Company
As a West Point grad in the early years of integrating women and serving in the U.S. Army for 12 years, I often reflect on my military roots and the foundation that the military has provided me for success in my manufacturing career. My transition from Army boots to steel-toe boots was not without challenges.
As young Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division, I was elated to have the opportunity for my platoon to support one of the combat brigades in an upcoming FTX (Field Training Exercise). I reported to the prep meeting and realized that I was the only female in the room. Halfway through the meeting, the colonel noticed me, stopped the meeting and asked why I was there. I responded, “I am your military police support, sir.” He shook his head negatively. Everyone in the room stared at me, but I stayed, and they continued the meeting.
Afterward, I waited until most had left and approached the colonel. I told him that I had the best platoon in the company and that we would not fail him. I told him that if he didn’t agree that I and my platoon were the best, I’d never again set foot in his area. I asked for him to give me a shot, unless he was concerned about a female making other men look bad. He stared at me for a long time before answering, “Lieutenant, you’re in.” From that moment on, my platoon shined and he asked for me by name.
For women in nontraditional career fields, I sum this up into one mantra: “show no fear!”
As a new maintenance engineer/supervisor for a major automotive company, I noticed a large, colored paper sticking out from underneath a stack of newspapers when I entered the pipefitter’s break area. Making small talk, I purposely picked up the newspaper exposing the large paper that had 30 blocks drawn on it, almost all of them colored in with red or blue; some had both. The men fell silent. I picked up the colored paper and asked, “What is this?” After a lengthy pause, the millwright replied, “It’s a pool.” “About what?” I probed. The men started to squirm. The same millwright answered, “It’s a pool about you. Blue indicates when you will cry, and red is when you will quit.” I was stunned! The tradesmen all stared at me. I looked back at the paper and realized that my peer supervisors had bought blocks, too.
I had a choice. I took out my wallet and said, “How much to get in?” He answered “5 bucks.” I gave him 10 and told him to mark me down for NEVER on both! I won, of course, and donated the money to the department holiday meal fund.
You cannot always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. #ShowNoFear #BootsAreBoots
According to the World Bank’s recent Doing Business report, India jumped 30 spots from last year and now ranks 100 out of 190 countries. Manufacturers in the United States are pleased to see improvements to India’s business environment as a sign of progress, but their day-to-day experience in India shows there is still much work to be done to improve India’s trade and investment environment. Such work needs to cut through the red tape that often faces manufacturers in the United States trying to succeed in India.
The Doing Business report is based on quantitative indicators related to how easy or challenging it is for companies to start and operate a business in India. These include policies and practices related to areas such as starting a business, dealing with construction and other government permits, obtaining critical business inputs ranging from credits to electricity, protecting contracts and investors, paying taxes and resolving insolvency.
To be clear, India’s jump in the rankings reflects improvements in various areas. Most of these steps primarily benefit domestic Indian entrepreneurs and businesses, but these moves did include some changes that have a direct impact on manufacturers in the United States. India’s biggest jumps this year fall in a few specific areas: “getting credit,” “resolving insolvency,” “protecting minority investors” and “paying taxes.” These jumps can largely be traced to two high-level reforms over the past year: the passage of India’s Bankruptcy Law and ongoing efforts to reform India’s complicated tax system with the passage of the goods and services tax.
Both improvements have a broad enough impact on the commercial environment that they were listed among improvements in a recent letter to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer from business groups, such as the Alliance for Fair Trade with India, stating that “U.S. businesses have seen small positive steps in the right direction, including foreign investment openings in a few sectors, fossil fuel and energy-efficiency policy initiatives, efforts to address infrastructure project permitting and licensing challenges and passage of legislation related to bankruptcy and tax reforms.”
While manufacturers welcome these changes, India must step up its efforts to accomplish Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeatedly stated goal of reaching the report’s top 50. India still trails countries such as the Dominican Republic, Tunisia and Guatemala in the current rankings. Despite progress, India still ranks toward the bottom of the report in areas such as “starting a business” (156), “dealing with construction permits” (181), “registering property” (154), “trading across borders” (146) and “enforcing contracts” (164). Moreover, India fell in the rankings for some of these areas, including cross-border trade, property registration and business start-up. Many of these areas, particularly cross-border trade and enforcing contracts, rank among the most troublesome areas for manufacturers from the United States.
In addition to the focused business indicators listed in the report, manufacturers in the United States still face a wide array of longstanding and new trade barriers in India that make it extremely difficult to do business and undermine India’s efforts to rebrand itself to attract trade and investment. These trade barriers prevent fair access to its markets and ultimately stunt innovation and economic opportunities for both U.S. and Indian manufacturers. Examples of issues include new price controls on innovative medical devices and agriculture products, a series of forced localization policies across high-value industries and ineffective protection of patents, copyrights and trade secrets.
India’s efforts to climb the rankings of the Doing Business report must be applauded, but it clearly still lags behind most large economies, and even other emerging economies, such as China, in terms of its business climate. To boost foreign direct investment and truly position India as a leader in trade and innovation, Prime Minister Modi must take this jump in the rankings not as a victory lap, but as a reason to accelerate reforms and concrete actions to eliminate trade and investment barriers preventing manufacturers in the United States from investing and operating in India.
By John Buckley, manager of military relations at Koch Industries
I served more than 30 years in the Army, with tours of duty from Bosnia to Iraq. But perhaps my biggest test of all came when I returned home: transitioning to the private sector.
Millions of veteran service members face the same challenge every day, with another million troops returning to the private sector over the next five years. It is also a tremendous opportunity—both for those who honorably served and for a grateful nation. As the manager of military relations for Koch Industries—one of the largest manufacturers in the United States—I see firsthand the value of recruiting and retaining employees who have served.
Almost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade, but the vast skills gap means that roughly 2 million of these positions will stay vacant, according to a study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. These open roles mean decreased productivity, lower earnings and a reduced GDP, as well as less innovation and flourishing in society.
Companies and entire industries are losing embedded institutional knowledge as an entire generation retires. As technical education offerings decline in public schools, we may have new workers who may lack the skills necessary to do these jobs.
But there’s hope. It is no coincidence that employers of military veterans, including Koch, have found that the traits that define the men and women who served our nation—character, dedication, perseverance and courage—match those of our most successful employees.
At Koch, we educate both business leaders—on understanding military culture and its applications in our daily business—and employed veterans—on how to recruit more quality talent. We recognize that only about 7 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. As such, we take great care to bridge the gap between employees with different experiences and skill sets. We hold a monthly Skype session with veterans, and our military careers website features helpful tips on searching for jobs, writing a resume and preparing for interviews. Our website devotes a section to veteran recruiting, including a guide to managing the transition to civilian life. The results are undeniable: For the past two years, we have increased our protected veteran hires by an average of 30 percent each year, and Koch has received six awards from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense program, for providing a supportive workplace for employees who served.
Adaptable, accountable and focused on compliance, veterans have years of skills, knowledge and leadership under their belt—important assets for any line of work, but especially manufacturing. When we hire veterans at Koch, we know that we are getting individuals with a proven track record of making their team—and their country—even better.
John Buckley is manager of military relations at Koch Industries. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel who commanded soldiers in combat and peacekeeping operations and contributed to the strategic and operational planning of multiple operations.
As the days get shorter and the months grow colder, we are fortunate to have energy that warms our homes and gives us light to read a favorite book.
What we may forget is that domestic energy is also fueling a manufacturing renaissance. New resource production made possible by technological innovation is supporting millions of jobs, increasing household incomes, boosting trade and contributing to a new increase in U.S. competitiveness around the world. Domestic energy allows us to be productive at home and work. Relying on one-third of the energy used in the United States, manufacturing contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016. Renewable sources are growing quickly and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio; our fleet of nuclear power plants cleanly and efficiently produce a substantial portion of the nation’s electricity; we have abundant supplies of coal, natural gas and oil; and advances in energy efficiency continue to save money.
Unfortunately, some people try to use energy as an issue to divide Americans. But that’s shortsighted.
Rather than picking one energy source over another, we should harness American creativity and competitiveness to drive efficiency from all energy sources. By making use of all of the United States’ domestic energy sources, we can ensure the best environmental outcomes at the lowest costs. Nuclear and fossil energy complement renewables like hydro, solar and wind and help ensure we have a diverse mix of energy resources. While solar and wind can produce varying amounts of energy, other energy is available on demand immediately and provides critical support to our renewable resources. For example, natural gas complements renewables and diversifies our energy portfolio. We are stronger together; together, we can forge long-term energy solutions.
That’s why manufacturers are watching the House Natural Resources Committee. The committee is busy marking up broad bipartisan legislation to strengthen energy policy on federal lands. H.R. 4239, the Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act, or the SECURE American Energy Act, reforms existing regulatory frameworks for energy development on America’s Outer Continental Shelf and the vast onshore acreage that is under federal ownership.
Although energy production has surged in recent years, the vast majority of this new activity has occurred on private lands, while exploration on federal lands has shrunk. As a result, energy production continues to be artificially limited, reducing manufacturers’ potential competitive advantage. The federal government owns approximately 640 million acres onshore, or roughly 28 percent of the land, in the United States. And with 86 percent of our offshore resources unavailable for development or analysis, America could be producing much more. To remain competitive in a global economy, we need access to all kinds of energy—and that includes sharing the riches under our seas and on federal lands.
The onshore provisions of H.R. 4239 would allow for more local control over energy plans on federal land. States that demonstrate they can effectively regulate would also receive the full 50 percent of mineral revenues, helping to fund schools and public services like local police and fire. H.R. 4239 would also stop instances of duplicative federal regulations when a state already has effective requirements. The SECURE America’s Energy Act also strengthens our access to offshore energy, opening new areas to offshore wind energy and giving more states and local communities a chance to reap the benefits of exploration.
Continuing to expand fair access to energy resources allows us to be less dependent on foreign oil and ensure America’s energy independence. Manufacturers will continue supporting measures that promote expanded access to U.S. energy resources that make manufacturers more energy secure, while driving job creation and growth. Energy is an issue that can bring us together.
We live in an era of lawsuits based more in emotion than fact. In the manufacturing sector, we see litigation costs continuously rising and often at the expense of a better wage for the American worker. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) will shine a light on this concerning trend, beginning with an opinion piece just published in Investor’s Business Daily.
Linda Kelly, NAM senior vice president and general counsel and leader of the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, describes in Investor’s Business Daily how trial lawyers seek to extort American workers, consumers and shareholders purely for profit. The piece lays out the widespread ramifications that new lawsuits pose to manufacturers in America, including the 12 million men and women that the NAM proudly represents across the United States.
Since 2005, manufacturers in America have reduced carbon emissions by 10 percent, all the while growing the American economy by 19 percent. Despite this clear commitment to the environment and economic prosperity for the American people, trial lawyers have initiated a disingenuous campaign, backed by well-funded activists, to discredit manufacturers and reap financial benefits at the cost of American workers and their families.
“Manufacturers are committed to climate action and are actively crafting solutions to this complex global challenge.”
One lawyer in particular, Michael Pawa, is a repeat player in this arena. In 2008, he unsuccessfully argued that American manufacturers had created a “public nuisance” in an attempt to set precedent for future lucrative endeavors. U.S. courts resoundingly rejected Pawa’s claims, but his politically motivated legal efforts continue today in cities like San Francisco and Oakland.
“Manufacturers are confident the courts will once again dismiss these efforts and see these lawsuits for what they are—legal attacks aimed at punishing an industry they don’t like. But manufacturers continue to be harassed by politically motivated legal officers operating with impunity beyond the reach of the courts.”
As Kelly points out, “every dollar spent defending against meritless attacks is a dollar not spent on innovation and game-changing revolutions that make our world healthier and communities safer,” and American manufacturers can ill afford to sustain unnecessary costs to their businesses and reputations.
All Americans should be wary of this free-for-all targeting by trial lawyers against the lifeblood of our economy, especially given the remarkable achievements that manufacturers have made toward enriching our environment and economic prosperity. The NAM is proud to support its members facing these frivolous lawsuits and will continue to work on behalf of the millions of American workers, consumers and shareholders that bear the brunt of these misguided legal attacks.
In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board, in the Browning-Ferris Industries case decision, overturned 30 years of case precedent by redefining a joint employer. Previously, businesses could meet the definition of an “employer” if they had “direct and immediate” control over another’s work. Now, a business owner who has “potential” or even “reserved control” over the practices of another business and its employees could be considered a “joint employer.” This change means businesses may now be liable for the contents of a collective-bargaining agreement they did not negotiate, employee overtime issues they did not cause and other employment practices.
This new definition affects more than 770,000 employers nationwide across multiple sectors and impacts every manufacturer that contracts for performed work with an outside entity. Manufacturers that contract out for any product or service with another company could find themselves mired in unexpected issues that arise from that company’s conduct.
The decision has already had a chilling effect on manufacturers’ ability and willingness to hire outside entities they would normally hire for specific expertise and services in differing fields. This hampers productivity and leads to increased overall costs. It also injects risk into the use of innovative and flexible workforce designs that manufacturers may use to cope with uneven production levels or market uncertainties.
The House will take up H.R. 3441, the Save Local Business Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), which will restore the previous standard by amending the National Labor Relations Act to define that a person may be considered a joint employer in relation to an employee only if such person directly, actually and immediately exercises significant control over the essential terms and conditions of employment. Due to the importance of this legislation to manufacturers, the NAM will be key-voting this measure. We are hopeful the Senate will do its part next and take up this important measure so that manufacturers and others can focus on job creation and running businesses, rather than trying to navigate the complicated labor policy landscape.
While manufacturers continue to seek broad-based relief from the onerous mandates and costs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Congress today will vote to repeal one provision of the ACA that ushered in an unelected and unaccountable board known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent a key-vote letter in support of the IPAB repeal. The IPAB, specifically tasked to reduce Medicare costs, risked shifting even more costs to the private sector. For example, uncompensated care delivered by hospitals and physicians and uncollectable hospital debt are passed on to patients and employers who provide coverage. This leads to additional and unwarranted increases of manufacturers’ health care costs.