Posted by mmcmullan
• 08/11/2014

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Early Shift.

This week, the Alliance for American Manufacturing is visiting sunny Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual United Steelworkers convention. We’re already posting videos on Instagram and tweeting updates from the convention floor, so keep an eye out on social media all week. And in the meantime, here’s what we’re reading:

  1. Textile manufacturing is returning to the Carolinas — as Chinese companies look for a way to get their sewing machines a little closer to cheaper cotton. Read the story in the Charlotte Observer.
  2. China’s food safety regulatory regime has a lot of work to do, reveals a story in the New York Times. Such reports caused a lot of heartburn last year when a Chinese pork producer bought Virginia-based Smithfield Foods —but don’t worry, they won’t be bringing in Chinese bacon.
  3. And ICYMI: Maury Povich, American television’s leading authority on the fallout of revealing paternity testing results in front of a live studio audience, is a big-time investor in an American-made clothing line.

    We’re as shocked as Maury is here. But what a development! Check out our write-up of his line, Massachusetts-made Mother Freedom.

That’s it and that’s all. Until next time, America.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 08/08/2014

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Early Shift.

The Dog Days of August are underway, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot of shaking hasn’t been going on. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s been happening this week … and a brief preview of what’s ahead.

Numero uno: The U.S. Department of Commerce released America’s monthly trade data, and another deficit north of $40 billion elicited a big ol’ “meh" from the media. Fun fact: Did you know that the U.S. has run a monthly trade deficit since 1976? It’s true.

Numero dos: China lost an appeal to a World Trade Organization ruling that determined Bejing had unfairly restricted access to its supply of rare earths minerals. That’s a good thing; those minerals go into everything from smartphones to military-grade equipment. Said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul:

For too long, China’s export restrictions have held U.S. producers and workers hostage, and undermined our national security. We applaud USTR for pursuing the enforcement of our trade laws through the WTO.

And lastly:

Let’s not get too excited now, but the results are in — and the current king of daytime TV trash, Maury Povich, is the proprietor behind an American-made clothing company located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We think that's awesome. So tune in later for the most gif-heavy Fashion Friday in AAM’s existence.

That’s it. That’s it and that’s all.

Until next Early Shift, America.


Posted by elizabethbb
• 08/04/2014

Happy Monday, and welcome to the Early Shift.

Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we’re still digesting all the coverage from Friday’s positive jobs report, which found that 28,000 manufacturing jobs were created in July. And we’re especially happy to see that several major news outlets cited our #AAMeter in stories about the report, including the Wall Street Journal:

While the latest numbers are an improvement, they underscore how much more hiring needs to occur for the U.S. to achieve one of President Barack Obama’s more ambitious economic goals: To add 1 million manufacturing jobs during his second term. The Alliance for American Manufacturing, which tracks progress on this, notes the U.S. remains 805,000 jobs short of that goal.

'Manufacturing punched above its weight in July, showing that a rebound in the sector is possible,' said the group’s president, Scott Paul. 'But we still have a long way to go.'

The alliance—an advocacy group for U.S.-based production funded by both business and labor—notes the U.S. will need to add an average of 27,758 each month for the rest of President Obama’s term to meet the goal.

The New York Times also included AAM in its coverage, as did Industry Week and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, pointed out that while the private sector now has the same number of jobs that it had before the Great Recession, manufacturing has only recovered a third of the jobs lost in the downturn.

What’s Ahead

While the start of the Congressional recess means that August should be fairly quiet on the policy front, we do expect a little news on Wednesday, when the Commerce Department is slated to unveil the latest trade figures.

And keep an eye out on the blog for our thoughts on this tremendous Sunday New York Times story, which looks at the devastating impact that the shuttering of the Great Northern Paper mill had on the town of Millinocket, ME. While we spend a lot of our time at AAM talking numbers, the article showcases what’s truly at stake in our work to protect and support American manufacturing jobs. It’s definitely worth a read.

-Team AAM

Posted by mmcmullan
• 08/01/2014

Good afternoon,

And welcome to the Early Shift. Good news today from the government number crunchers: We actually had a positive jobs report for America’s manufacturing sector.

The country added 28,000 factory jobs in July. That’s the best monthly total manufacturing employment has seen since … November 2013, and it’s roughly the kind of number we’ll need to see every month through January 2017 if President Obama is to reach his goal of 1 million new manufacturing jobs for the U.S. economy during his second term.

That admittedly won’t be easy, not unless Washington puts in place the policies necessary to make it happen. Things like this:

Elsewhere: Just before the August recess, Congress passed a kick-the-can-down-the-road transportation funding bill that doesn’t actually provide new, much-needed funding for transportation projects; it just fixes the funding shortfall until next May with an accounting gimmick. That’s pretty weak, considering just how much public infrastructure fixes are needed, but it will keep the Highway Trust Fund from depleting for the time being. So that’s good.

We’re still waiting on a serious infrastructure plan, Congress. If you think so too, click here to say so.

And lastly: Here’s a sobering little blog post on “the myth of a U.S. manufacturing revival” that pours some cold water on the suggestion of an onshoring trend.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America. Have a nice weekend!


Posted by elizabethbb
• 07/28/2014

Happy Monday — and welcome to the Early Shift.

The big question as we start the week: Will Congress finally act to keep the Highway Trust Fund going?

Things actually look pretty promising, as the Senate is preparing to move on an $11 billion temporary fix to keep the trust fund solvent through May 2015. The House already passed its version of the bill, and the Senate is expected to finally schedule a vote sometime this week for a very D.C. reason: Senators want to go home. As Roll Call put it:

The Senate is up against its August recess, so if all goes as planned, the federal money will keep flowing to state transportation departments. That means the earth movers and concrete mixers will keep working during this highway construction season.

The bill only provides a 10-month extension to the Trust Fund, and a long-term plan to rebuild our nation’s transportation infrastructure is still badly needed. But this temporary fix will keep hundreds of thousands of Americans working on transportation projects across the country, so we’ll take what we can get… for now.

It's also a busy week for news about the economy, with a slew of measuring reports slated to be unveiled, including the monthly jobs report on Friday. Business Insider predicts “an outsized gain in manufacturing payrolls” in this report due to strength in motor vehicle production. Of course, with President Obama still 844,000 jobs away from reaching his goal of creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs in his second term, we need several months of “outsized gains.”

Meanwhile, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge debacle continues in California, where a state Senator is now calling for a criminal investigation. Sen. Mark DeSaulnier says a soon-to-be-released Senate investigation will show that the California Department of Transportation “knowingly accepted substandard work at taxpayer expense” when it hired a firm from China to complete key steel sections on the suspension span of the bridge.

And in case you missed it, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul wrote about how his recent trip to Detroit for Netroots Nation reminded him of why we are fighting so hard to restore American manufacturing leadership. As he wrote:

With the right policies manufacturing can see a new dawn not only over Detroit, but all across America. We can see renewed wealth and growth opportunities necessary to keep the American dream alive. And we'll have far fewer of those conversations about which block to raze and which block to save.

A little inspiration to start the week off right.


Photo by Ryan Vaarsi via Flickr Creative Commons.

Posted by mmcmullan
• 07/25/2014

Good afternoon,

And welcome to the Early Shift. We’re back at it after Netroots Nation 2014. Back on the grind. What’s been happening out there this week?

We’ve been watching the political advertisements about trade begin to roll out. Some are a little light on the details, and others don’t tell the whole story. Read our analysis here of the latest spot from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (stay tuned for plenty more fact checks as the midterms approach).

We’ve been watching manufacturing employment flatline. Timothy Aeppel at the Wall Street Journal spoke to an economist at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation:

Mr. Meckstroth thinks the overall number will soon start to drift up again. “But we’re not going to have a renaissance,” he adds, “in the sense of getting manufacturing back up to the share of the economy it was in the mid-1990s,” unless there’s progress made on reducing the trade deficit in goods. “You just can’t continue to run higher and higher deficits and think the industry is going to be in any kind of a renaissance,” he says.

We’re watching Vice President Joe Biden lay out the case for massive infrastructure investment.

And we’re watching this interview. MSNBC’s Krystal Ball speaks to Beth Macy, author of “Factory Man,” a story of the rise and fall of Virginia and North Carolina’s furniture manufacturing industry.

And that’s it. That’s it and that’s all, America! We’ll catch you next week.


Posted by elizabethbb
• 07/21/2014

Happy Monday morning, and welcome to the Early Shift.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) crew is back home after last week's successful trip to Netroots Nation in Detroit. During our stay in the Motor City, Team AAM spread the word about ways that policymakers and others can support U.S. manufacturing, including investment in our nation’s infrastructure and support for Buy America policies. Among the highlights of our trip:

  • We hosted a great panel discussion on Saturday morning that looked at how manufacturing supports the nation's middle class. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), Daily Kos Labor Editor Laura Clawson, United Steelworkers Local 4131 President Durwin Royal, and AAM President Scott Paul joined moderator Joe Sudbay for a talk that touched on everything from unfair trade policies and workers’ rights to the importance of holding our politicians accountable. There even was a celebrity appearance, as MSNBC's Krystal Ball stopped by.
  • Scott Paul also addressed the full Netroots crowd during the conference’s closing plenary, where he discussed the importance of manufacturing jobs and the success of the recent Save Our Steel Jobs effort.
  • AAM hosted the official Netroots Nation closing night party at the Michigan Science Center, where partygoers danced the night away and checked out the planetarium. We’re hoping they learned a few things about manufacturing, too.  The science center is home to “Roads, Tunnels and Bridges,” which features hands-on, interactive exhibits on transportation, fuels, and infrastructure. 


Looking Ahead

Now that Netroots is over, we've got our eyes set on Capitol Hill, where the effort to fund the Highway Trust Fund rolls on. The House last week passed a bill to keep state transportation projects funded through May 2015, but as Roll Call noted, the bill faces delays in the Senate as the parties bicker over how many amendments to debate.

Meanwhile, a new poll from Politico finds that the economy is the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds heading into the 2014 midterm elections. That’s no surprise to us — an AAM poll conducted earlier this year showed that voters in both parties consider jobs, particularly in manufacturing, as a top issue. Voters also see U.S. policies and policymakers as an obstacle to manufacturing job creation.

Both polls provide further proof lawmakers should focus on finding a lasting solution to the Highway Trust Fund issue rather than a temporary fix. Significant investments to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure — which would include Buy America requirements — will lead to job creation nationwide while boosting the economy.

And while our lawmakers debate, American workers are ready to go to work. As the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend, more Americans are pursuing skills training for technical jobs. Now it's up to Washington to ensure the jobs will be there for them. 

Posted by mmcmullan
• 07/14/2014

Good morning,

and welcome to the Early Shift.

The verdict is in: The U.S. Department of Commerce has found that there’s been significant “dumping” of steel pipe and tube by companies based in South Korea and elsewhere. This is a big reversal from Commerce’s preliminary decision on the subject of Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) products, which had let chief offender South Korea get off scot free.

This story got picked up by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters, among others. It’s a big one; had Commerce decided otherwise, thousands of jobs up and down the steel supply chain in America would have been left at serious risk. That’s why, leading up to last week’s verdict, thousands of workers turned out at rallies around the country to tell Washington just how important its decision was.

But those workers aren’t out of the woods yet. Tomorrow comes the next critical step in this process, when this case goes before the International Trade Commission that will decide whether the case’s petitioners have been financially injured or are threatened by injury by this dumping. Stick with the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) tomorrow; we’ll be following the news closely.  

Extra, extra: It’s Netroots Nation week. AAM is traveling to Detroit for the annual political blogger conference. What will be talking about? Manufacturing, natch. Keep an eye on our social media accounts for updates from the convention floor.


Posted by mmcmullan
• 07/07/2014

Good morning,

and welcome to the Early Shift. We hope you enjoyed the fireworks on the Fourth and got some rest over the weekend, because there's a big decision expected this week: The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to announce its final decision in a trade case that could affect thousands of steel jobs across the United States.

Will American steelworkers be forced to compete with a flood of imports, dumped into the U.S. at prices way below fair market value? Or will our government enforce its on-the-books trade laws?

Find out what’s at stake for those steelworkers. And then take action to help them out.

But it's not all trade cases in the Early Shift: We've got our ears to the ground for cool cultural phenonema. To wit: Check out the good use someone got out of a drone on Independence Day.

Have a good week, America!


Posted by mmcmullan
• 06/30/2014

Good afternoon,

and welcome to the Early Shift. Before we get going, here's a little something to chew on: The first Chevrolet Corvette was manufactured today in 1953.

Now let's get down to brass tacks. The Save Our Steel Jobs rallies have ended, but we’re still plenty focused on the trade case that could affect the livelihoods of thousands of steelworkers across the nation. And we’re not alone. Today we’ve got two opinions on the matter. One from Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (and fresh from testifying on Capitol Hill); and the other from Tom Ridge, Homeland Security secretary during the George W. Bush administration.

Here’s Ridge:

Steel dumping by any foreign trade partner is not only unfair; it stunts new investment and destabilizes the domestic steel industry. Should the Commerce Department side with South Korean steel makers in its final determination due by July 10, the United States will lose many of the jobs that the expansion of the natural gas industry has helped to sustain and create.

Tell Washington to not let that happen. Tell your legislators to stand up for steel jobs!

Elsewhere: Far across the Pacific Ocean, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks march on.

And next month, we join the Netroots Nation. Our panel at the blogger convention — this year in Detroit — will talk about manufacturing’s historic role in America’s middle class. Click here to learn more.

That's it, and that's all, America. Keep an eye out for an updated #AAMeter this Thursday!


Photo by Flickr user Collector Car Ads, used following creative commons guidelines.

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