Tag: United Steelworkers

WaPo: Geithner asserts ‘critical role’ of manufacturing

Washington Post, “Geithner asserts ‘critical role’ of manufacturing“:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner used a trip to a Pittsburgh metals factory on Wednesday to buff the image of American manufacturing ahead of a key decision on China’s currency policy, showcasing the type of heavy industry that can succeed in the United States despite stiff — and some argue unfair — competition from abroad.

“This is a sector that will play a critical role in helping to spur our economic recovery and contribute to our long-term prosperity,” Geithner said after a day in which he toured a mill where Allegheny Technologies Inc. produces specialty metal plates. He also met with representatives of United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel.

BTW, on Monday, Allegheny Technologies announced a $5 million one-time, non-cash tax charge because of the new health care law. None of reports mention the charge, bu then Geithner’s trip had many news angles.

 

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Energy Reservations about the Job Summit

From EnergyTomorrow.org, the American Petroleum Institute’s excellent website and blog, “Missed Opportunity at the Jobs Summit”:

API’s President Jack Gerard and Devon’s CEO and Chairman Larry Nichols called the White House Jobs Summit a “missed opportunity” during a conference call with reporters this morning, and wondered why the oil and natural gas industry was not invited.

America’s oil and natural industry employs and supports a total of 9.2 million U.S. jobs. It powers most of the energy that heats U.S. homes, fuels factories and offices, and gets people to home and work. It also adds more than $1 trillion to the national economy.

Yet, Larry said today that despite the fact that the industry asked to attend today’s Jobs Summit, he was not aware of anyone from an oil and natural gas trade association or a traditional energy company who had been invited.

Brian Faughnan, writing at new project, TheConservatives.com, “An Idea for the Job Summit: Stop the War on Coal.”

It’s true business trade associations were left off the attendee list for the White House gig, which is OK. The White House is generally quite good about taking input from people, and there are many fine manufacturing thinkers attending.

Still, we had to laugh at the explanation for the associations’ absence, as paraphrased by the Washington Post today in the preview story, “As Obama opens jobs summit, he faces limited options for growth“:

The White House, which has clashed with some of the business groups over their opposition to health-care reform and other initiatives, says it has met repeatedly with those organizations and wants to hear fresh ideas.

Oh, c’mon now. The fresh ideas of Anna Burger of the SEIU? The novel, innovative thinking of Leo Gerard of the Steelworkers?

UPDATE (3:05 p.m.): API issued a news release with its morning conference call.

UPDATE (3:14 p.m.): White House has released list of attendees. The fresh ideas of Andy Stern! The outre observations of Robert Reich!

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Manufacturing Jobs, the CNBC ‘Meeting of the Minds’

Another plug for tonight’s CNBC program, “Meeting of the Minds: Rebuilding America,” scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern. Here’s CNBC’s summary of the issues addressed in the discussions, moderated by Maria Bartiromo. NAM President John Engler is a panelist.

Manufacturing led the United States to become the richest nation in the world and has been the foundation of the middle class. But times have changed and today’s economy values innovation and design over manual labor — emphasizing mind over matter. This sea of change has spurred many questions: Are the manufacturing jobs in the US gone forever? Does an economy that doesn’t produce anything have any real value and has ‘Made in the USA’ died, taking with it the soul of our country? CNBC’s gathers some of the most influential leaders in manufacturing for a Meeting of the Minds at Carnegie Mellon University to answer those questions and plan for the industry’s future.

Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International, gives his report on the discussions taped Monday evening in Pittsburgh at the Huffington Post, a post, “CEOs, Union Leader Agree: Manufacturing Strategy Crucial.” Sure. But once you get past process — the manufacturing strategy — agreement’s harder to find. In opposing free trade agreements, organized labor turns its back on jobs in dynamic, export-intensive industries.

Others panelists: Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company; Daniel R. DiMicco, Chairman, President & CEO, Nucor Corporation; Jeff Immelt, Chairman & CEO, General Electric; and Hilda Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor.

UPDATE: Courtesy CNBC, John Engler (left) and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

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In Bloom

More reporting, commentary on the possibility that President Obama will name Ron Bloom the White House’s manufacturing czar:

Detroit News, ”Bloom to oversee U.S. manufacturing policy,” which reports the appointment as almost a done deal and then elicits a response from the White House.

“Ron Bloom is doing a great job on the auto task force. There are no plans to shut down or repurpose the auto task force and we expect Ron to continue to do a great job,” said Gannet Tseggai, a White House spokeswoman. “We don’t have any other announcement to make at this time.”

The unions are delighted with the prospect, since it would put a former United Steelworkers official in charge of industrial policy, and they’re hoping for industrial policy in the old ’60s, protectionist sense. For example, Tom Conway, a vice president at the Steelworkers:

“He really does get manufacturing and industrial America,” Conway said. “We’re hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs through trade deals out of balance. Ron knows that manufacturing companies need incentives to bring jobs back. People need a legitimate return on their investment but it also doesn’t have to be harsh and exploitative.”

Time magazine detects a hands-off approach from Bloom in his auto-czar role in a brief article, “Ron Bloom Monitors GM — And Eyes The Exit,” quoting him, “I don’t think the government should decide who should make axles and who should make steering wheels. That’s not a proper role.”

James Parks at the AFL-CIO blog comments, “Bloom in Line for Administration Manufacturing Post.”

And from Will Collins at the National Right to Work Foundation’s Freedom@Work blog, “Union Car Czar Poised to Dictate America’s Manufacturing Policy“: “The result of this personnel move seems likely to be more forced unionism, less American competitiveness, more job losses, and ultimately more bankruptcies and taxpayer-funded bailouts of corruptly run union pension plans.”

A thought: Having failed to put enough political muscle behind the Employee Free Choice Act to satisfy Big Labor, the White House offers Mr. Bloom as the consolation prize.

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Bloom in Charge, Question Mark

From Bloomberg, “Obama May Tap Auto Chief Bloom to Craft Manufacturing Policy“:

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration may elevate Ron Bloom, head of the government’s auto task force, to a job that would set U.S. manufacturing policy more broadly, people familiar with the matter said.

Bloom, a former United Steelworkers union adviser and Lazard Ltd. investment banker, helped guide General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC through bankruptcy as part of the government’s rescue of the auto industry. The task force will continue, and it hasn’t been decided whether Bloom will remain its leader while taking on the new role, the people said.

We’re all for focused attention on the manufacturing economy, but (and these are personal musings)…

Another czar? A union-official-investment-banker-negotiator czar? You would think it would make sense to name someone like a manufacturer to help coordinate manufacturing policy.

Or let the Department of Commerce do its job. The trouble with czars is their unaccountability, lack of transparency, and lack of transparent accountability.

And the potential for favoritism and caprice. “Nah, you can’t touch that company. They’re all czarred up.”

You’d also have to think U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Commerce Secretary Locke, and others who have made the case for trade and exports would also take note of a former Steelworkers official being put in charge of manufacturing policy.

But it’s a trial balloon. So we’ll read up on Mr. Bloom while its shadows slowly move across the sultry summer landscape.

Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics blog, February 19, 2009, “Who Is Ron Bloom?

The Nation, February 16, 2009, “Labor’s Man Joins Treasury Team.”

Ron Bloom has the sophistication of a Wall Street financier, but the head and heart of a labor guy. He knows how to “run the numbers” and do deals, techniques he learned years ago at Lazard Frères. When he left the world of capital, however, he went to work for organized labor. Bloom steers capital strategies for the steelworkers and advises Leo Gerard, the union’s heads-up president. The steelworkers have been in the vanguard of unions aggressively using their financial power–the invested capital of pension funds–to force reform and worker-friendly policies on the corporate world. These are always tough fights. It takes smart strategies and hard-nosed negotiating to prevail. Bloom and Gerard have developed a “rep” for both.

United Steelworkers news release, February 17, 2009, excerpt:

The administration was lucky to find a person who so deeply believes in organized labor and so clearly understands corporate finance, [USW President Leo] Gerard said. “Saving the domestic auto industry is crucial to the economic renewal of the U.S.” said Gerard. “The steel, glass, auto parts, tires, and paper industries produce products for this industry and employ a quarter million of our members alone.”

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Card Check: Unions Invest in an MSNBC TV Host

From the Business and Media Institute, “MSNBC Pro-Union Host Ed Schultz Received $22K from Labor in 2008.”

Ed Schultz debuted on MSNBC during the 5 p.m. slot on April 6 with a flashy new set. And although the liberal radio host’s “ED Show” is in its infancy, it has one apparent theme – it’s very pro-organized labor.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, was even Schultz’s first guest. On his second show on April 7, Schultz’s opening “OpEd” segment was firmly for the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. And, on his third show on April 8, he invited Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of the pro-union, pro-card check American Rights at Work organization.

However, there’s one detail Schultz hasn’t revealed to his audience – a potential conflict of interest. As recently as 2008, Schultz received more than $20,000 from three separate AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions.

BMI cites and reposts documents gathered from the Department of Labor’s website. We were worried that the new Administration would take down the very useful search engines and documents on union expenditures from DOL’s site. Congratulations to Secretary Solis for standing by the Administration’s commitment to transparency.

To be fair to Schultz, it’s not that outrageous if he has been compensated for public appearances before labor audiences. Besides, he’s always been a pay-to-play kind of guy. His national radio show was started with seed money from Senate Democrats. Funny, we remember interviewing him when he was talking about running as a Republican against Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).

UPDATE (5:40 p.m.): Justin Wilson at the Center for Union Facts digs deeper and discovers more than $50,000 in union payments to Schultz over the years.

Straight talk from the heartland, proclaims Schultz. Or straight cash from the unions, as the case may be.

UPDATE II (5:42 p.m.): We Got Ed says his website. They sure do:

OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 Building Union Power Conference
Date: 4/18/2009
Location: Columbus, OH
What: OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 Building Union Power Conference
Where: Columbus, OH
Who: Ed Schultz Gives Keynote Speech for Building Union Power Conference
When: April 18, 2009 at 7:00pm, ET

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Destroy the Secret Ballot, Change the World!

John Nichols of The Madison Times, the lefty website/newspaper in Wisconsin, was really taken with the fiery rhetoric of AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, speaking at the United Steelworkers annual convention in Las Vegas.

It’s an Obama-endorsement speech, and no surprise there. The striking thing was Trumka’s claim that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act will herald a sweeping, radical restructuring of the American economy.

Thanks to Nichols, we have the text of Trumka’s speech. Here’s an excerpt:

Brothers and sisters, labor market flexibility is about one thing only: it isn’t helping companies be more competitive, it’s about making unions weaker.

And, I’ll tell you one other thing: that stops the day the Employee Free Choice Act is signed!

Globalization. Small government. Price stability. Labor market flexibility.

Those are the four old worn out tires this economy’s riding on.

There’s no question that if we don’t get some new ones soon we’re headed to a disaster. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we get out of the back seat, grab the wheel and take control — and that’s what this election is all about!

To repeat: To Trumka, the enemies to be defeated are globalization, small government, price stability and labor market flexibility.

He’s opposed to price stability? Amazing.

Pass the Employee Free Choice Act, destroy the secret ballot in the workplace, and force unwilling employees into labor unions through threats and intimidation. That’s the key to ending globalization, small government, price stability and labor market flexibility.

Amazing.

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