Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case Peggy Young v. United Parcel Services, Inc. where the Court will examine the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and consider “whether, and in what circumstances, an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations must provide comparable work accommodations to pregnant employees.” (continue reading…)
Day Two here in Houston at the Reinvesting in American Manufacturing conference where the opening topic, “The Great Labor Debate,” sparked no debate at all. Some experts insist that the U.S. has plenty of available and highly trained labor. The counterpoint insists that one of the greatest threats to the resurgence of manufacturing in America is the shortage of high-skilled workers. The counterpoint won hands down at this manufacturing conference, where the skills gap and its impact on global competitiveness and investment decisions is a top concern.
Today’s opening panel featured NAM Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Aric Newhouse along with Schneider National, Inc. President & CEO Christopher Lofgren and National Association of Development Organizations Director of Economic Development Brian Kelsey. All agreed that it will take much more public/private collaboration between industry, academia and other stakeholders to produce the skilled workforce that America needs for advanced manufacturing. The Manufacturing Institute is a leader on that front.
Later in the day, the “Women in Manufacturing” panel highlighted how one obvious source of human capital – women — has not been fully tapped by the manufacturing industry. Three outstanding women leaders in manufacturing spoke about their experiences, why hiring and advancing women is smart business and strategies for getting girls motivated and prepared for careers in manufacturing.
Many thanks to our NAM members on the panel: Toyota Motor North America’s Latondra Newton, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer; Alcoa’s Natalie Schilling, Vice President, Corporate Human Resources & Chief Talent Officer; and GE Transportation’s Tina Donikowski, Vice President, Locomotive/Marine, Stationary Power & Drill/Energy Storage.
Manufacturers Welcome Progress to Avoid Port Strike, Urge Parties to Swiftly Come to a Final Agreement
Manufacturers welcomed the news this morning that the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) have agreed to a 30-day extension to resolve their differences to avoid a dockworkers strike of the East and Gulf Coast ports.
However, it is critical that both parties use this time wisely to reach an agreement as soon as possible to avoid a strike at the end of the 30-day extension. Manufacturers implemented costly contingency plans this month, and the last thing manufacturers need is a repeat of the same scenario in January. Even with this progress outlined today, uncertainty remains until a final agreement is reached. Due to the complex nature of manufacturing supply chains, manufacturers must plan far ahead, and the continued potential for a strike in 30 days will result in additional costs to minimize the impacts of any port disruptions.
According to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, both parties have agreed in principle to resolve the royalty payment issue, and the 30-day extension will give them time to work out other differences. This is a positive development to help avoid a port strike at the worst possible time for manufacturers.
With manufacturers already facing the fiscal cliff in three days, a port strike would have been another crippling blow to our economy. A strike would likely cost our economy an estimated $1 billion a day. Supply chains would be disrupted, putting manufacturing jobs at risk and halting exports. The National Association of Manufacturers has urged both sides to come to an agreement to protect jobs. We are hopeful that a final agreement will be reached as soon as possible so we can put any additional uncertainty from a port strike to rest.
Robyn Boerstling is director of transportation and infrastructure policy, National Association of Manufacturers.
Recent News Coverage:
-“Ports on East Coast threatened by strike“ (USA Today)
- “Obama pressed to act as dockworker unions threan massive port strike” (The Hill)
- “Looming port strike could cost economy billions” (CNN Money)
Organized labor now has its sights set on a government take-over of private 401(k) retirement plans in order to bail out underfunded union pension plans.
And, labor apparently has sympathetic ears in the Administration. In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class,” in which Vice President Biden raises the idea of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) to effectively nationalize private retirement plans.
The Vice President’s comments are troubling, insofar as they come on the heels of testimony before Congress from supporters of GRAs proposing to eliminate the favorable tax treatment currently afforded to 401(k) plans, and instead use those dollars to fund government-invested GRAs into which all employees would be required to contribute a portion of their salary — again, with a government subsidy. These advocates would, essentially, dismantle the present private-sector 401(k) system, replacing it instead with a government-run investment plan, the size and scope of which remain to be seen. This despite data showing that 90 percent of households have a favorable opinion of the existing 401(k)/IRA system.
More from the letter:
In light of these facts, we write today to express our opposition in the strongest terms to any effort to “nationalize” the private 401(k) system, or any proposal that would dismantle or disfavor the private 401(k) system in favor of a government-run retirement security regime.
The federal government should encourage, rather than impede, the use of private voluntary retirement plans.