Town hall meeting to address “Keep it Made in America”


Rebuilding the manufacturing base and creating jobs in western New York is the focus of a town hall meeting being held in downtown Buffalo Monday night.

It’s called the ‘Keep it Made in America’ Town Hall. And it’s being hosted by the Alliance for American Manufacturing and the United Steelworkers.

The union’s District 4 Director John Shinn says the goal is to help business leaders, organized labor, elected officials, educators and citizens understand the role manufacturing can play in reinvigorating the economy.

“Citizens of the state, when they have these manufacturing jobs, they spend money. It helps the secondary businesses. One dollar paid to a worker in New York state in the manufacturing sector would role over to the area businesses three, four times.”

Shinn says governments can help by enacting policies that guarantee taxpayer funded projects use goods made in the USA. And he says the academic community can help by educating students with the necessary skills to fill jobs.
“There’s a demand for skilled labor positions within manufacturing and also semi-skilled labor positions…We have employers that can’t hire instrument technicians, electricians, welders, pipe fitters…these are good living-wage jobs.”

The meeting includes panel discussions, video presentations and opportunities for audience participation.  It gets underway Monday in Asbury Hall on Delaware Avenue at 6 p.m.




“Buying American” Generally Matters More to Women Than Men

Harris Importance of Buying American March 2013 woman

A majority of American adults believe that it is important to “buy American” across a variety of product types, according to results from a Harris Interactive survey, even if the definition of what constitutes an “American” product is not universally shared by respondents. Interestingly, while there were few gaps in the importance placed on “buying American” among Republicans and Democrats responding to the survey, women were more likely than men to feel it more important for each product category identified.

For example, women were:

  • 11% more likely to consider “buying American” important when purchasing major appliances (79% vs. 71%);
  • 10% more likely to consider it important for furniture purchases (78% vs. 71%);
  • 15% more likely to place importance on this factor when buying clothing (77% vs. 67%);
  • 14% more likely to find it important for car purchases (74% vs. 65%); and
  • 20% more likely to consider it important when buying home electronics (72% vs. 60%).

On each count, 18-35-year-olds were significantly less likely than any other generation to believe that “buying American” is important to them.

The survey finds that the definition of what constitutes “buying American” isn’t universally agreed upon. Three-quarters agree that a product needs to be manufactured within the US for them to consider it “American,” while a slight majority believe that it needs to be made by an American company for them to consider it “American.” Close behind, 47% agree that a product needs to be made from parts produced in the US for them to consider it “American.”

As the researchers note, the company perceived by respondents to be the most “American” – Ford – increasingly has cars which include parts produced abroad. Other companies showing up in the most “American” list – such as GE and Levi Strauss – also outsource some of their operations overseas.

Regardless of the extent to which these companies’ products meet consumer definitions, “Made in America” packaging can influence consumers. A study released last year by Perception Research Services found that about 8 in 10 shoppers notice “Made in the USA” claims in packaging, and about three-quarters of those believe that such claims make them more likely to buy the product.

According to the Harris survey results, the most commonly-cited important reasons for “buying American” are to keep jobs in America (90%), to support American companies (87%), and due to quality (83%) and safety (82%) concerns with products assembled outside of the US.

About the Data: The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 12 and 18, 2012 among 2,176 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

Data for the “What company do you consider to be most ‘American’” question was conducted online within the United States between January 2 and 4, 2012 among 2,126 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.



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Made in USA makes comeback as a marketing tool

usatoday logo

Oliver St. John, USA TODAY10:11p.m. EST January 21, 2013

It’s becoming downright American to make stuff in America.

Small manufacturers, craftsmen and retailers are marketing the Made-in-USA tag to score do-gooder points with consumers for employing stateside, says Margarita Mendoza, founder of the Made in America Movement, a lobbying organization for small manufacturers.

It’s working: Over 80% of Americans are willing to pay more for Made-in-USA products, 93% of whom say it’s because they want to keep jobs in the USA, according to a survey released in November by Boston Consulting Group. In ultra-partisan times, it’s one of the few issues both Democrats and Republicans agree on.

When considering similar products made in the U.S. vs. China, the average American is willing to pay up to 60% more for U.S.-made wooden baby toys, 30% more for U.S.-made mobile phones and 19% more for U.S.-made gas ranges, the survey says.

Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the action. The behemoth, embroiled over the past year with worker protests and foreign bribery investigations, pledged recently to source $50 billion of products in the U.S. over the next 10 years, says Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove. They’re not alone. Mendoza says both Caterpillar and 3M have also made efforts to source more in the U.S.

“Regardless if this is a PR ploy or not, it doesn’t matter. A lot more people will look for the Made-in-USA tag,” she says, adding that, considering Wal-Mart’s size, $5 billion a year is only “a drop in the bucket,” for the retailer whose 2012 sales reached almost $444 billion.

Kyle Rancourt says his American-made shoe company, Rancourt & Co., hit it big as concern over U.S. jobs mounted when the recession hit in 2009. But he says he lies awake at night worrying if Made-in-USA is just a passing fad.

“It’s inevitable that times will change,” Rancourt says. “But I am still holding out hope that this has become a core value of our country.”

Mendoza says that if buying American turns out to be a passing fad, the country is in trouble.

“If they don’t understand the economic factor, we need to pull on their heartstrings,” she says. “The thought of having a country like China taking over, that alone is bone-chilling.”

But do folks care enough about U.S. manufacturing jobs to permanently change the way they shop? David Aaker, vice chairman of brand consulting firm Prophet, says the companies that get the most credit for being American, such as Apple and Cisco, don’t even source products in the U.S.

“I don’t think it matters unless it becomes visible,” Aaker says. “The most common way for that is if something bad happens, like if Nike gets some press about conditions in factories overseas.”

But Rancourt says his customers believe foreign-made shoes lack the soul of their American counterparts.

“There’s hundreds if not thousands of workers working on those factories. They do one specific job, maybe put an eyelet into a specific place,” he says. “They don’t have an idea or concept of a finished product and how that should look.”


Just watch out for phony Made-in-USA claims. It’s illegal to claim a product is U.S.-made unless both the product and all it’s components are sourced in the U.S. Even products that could imply a phony country of origin with a flag or country outline are verboten. Julia Solomon Ensor, enforcement lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission, says the FTC gets “several complaints each month about potentially deceptive ‘Made-in-the-USA’ claims.”

It sets a bad example. Mendoza says the U.S. needs to let kids know it’s OK to work in manufacturing. “Not all children are going to grow up to be dentists, and lawyers, and investment bankers.”





Chinese bid for A123 may raise security risks: Senators


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Chinese company’s attempt to take over government-backed battery maker A123 raises serious national security concerns, a bipartisan group of lawmakers said this week, adding to growing congressional opposition to the deal.

China’s Wanxiang Group Corp is currently competing with U.S.-based Johnson Controls Inc to buy bankrupt A123, which makes lithium ion batteries for electric cars.

The government must ensure that any sale of A123’s technology, which has also been used by the military and to support the U.S. electrical grid, does not threaten domestic security, the senators said in letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other top cabinet officials.

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We Need More “Made in the USA” — Hear That, Apple? Congress?


What is the future of work? Which party will prevail in not only lowering our unhealthy unemployment rate but ensuring that job growth will continue based on genuine prosperity and not the “bubble economics” such as the housing and Internet bubble enabled by Bill Clinton? Let’s call it “Bubba economics.”

As I said in a previous post, the major driver of our economic doldrums is the rise of China and India during the past decade. What’s more, while economists can claim that the issue is China’s undervalued currency, it’s the slave wages that make outsourcing to China appealing. Let’s face it, American businesses didn’t relocate to southern states because they have a different currency but because they are “right to work” states.

President Obama’s announcement on Monday that the administration would take action against China for illegal subsidies of auto parts sheds a light on the enormous role China is playing in our economic doldrums.

But I’d contend that it’s cheap labor, not subsidies, that’s the problem. The reason why the last decade was the first since the Great Depression in which there was no net job creation in the U.S. is that the 500 million people in advanced economy labor pools, whose average daily wage is $135, can’t compete with the 1.1 billion people who make $12 a day in developing economies such as China, and the 1.3 billion people in rural economies where the daily wage is only $1 to $2 a day.

We didn’t used to outsource, at least not to this degree. In 1955 GM was the largest company, with more than 475,000 employees and only around 75,000 employed by overseas contractors. Today Apple is the biggest company, employing fewer than 50,000 employees here and more than 700,000 abroad.

The standard Republican response to economic doldrums — claiming that tax cuts will incentivize companies to “re-shore” jobs–is absurd. As even the conservative Wall Street Journal admitted, most major U.S. companies pay zero taxes.

While Huffington Post’s “What is Working” campaign has provided vital input on how we’ve got to train more Americans for highly skilled jobs — especially at community colleges — unfortunately the fastest growing jobs don’t require a college degree.

As economist Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute has observed, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2014 the number of occupations filled by people with college degrees will rise by merely one percentage point — from 28 percent to 29 percent.”

What’s more, the BLS says that of the ten occupational groups that will add the most jobs between 2010 and 2020, five don’t even require a high-school diploma.

Those who think we can jump-start the economy by encouraging high tech start-ups need a reality check, given that too many of these start-ups wind up outsourcing much of their work. Wonder why California, our most entrepreneurial state, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country — 11.5 percent as of March of this year compared to the U.S. rate of 8.3 percent?

In fact, four of the five Congressional districts in the U.S. with the highest proportional decline in jobs are in the tech-heavy San Francisco Bay area — oh, and the fifth is Austin, which is also a high tech area.

Says Intel founder Andy Grove, only about 166,000 people in the U.S. work in the computer manufacturing industry, a lower figure than when the first PC was assembled in 1975. “Meanwhile, a very effective computer manufacturing industry has emerged in Asia, employing about 1.5 million workers,” says Grove. Unlike Apple, GE and HP, “[Intel is] making three-quarters of those chips in the United States, even though three quarters of its microprocessor chips are sold elsewhere. Intel employs 44,000 people in the U.S., more than half its overall workforce of 84,000,” according to Robert D. Hof of Stanford Business Magazine online.

Grove knows first hand the price you pay if you don’t make the stuff you invented:

When Intel’s business consisted of making memory chips, we hesitated to add manufacturing capacity, not being all that sure about the market demand in years to come. Our Japanese competitors didn’t hesitate: They built the plants. Asian countries seem to understand that job creation must be the Number One objective of state economic policy.

Grove’s approach to re-source and re-shore jobs to the U.S.A?

Levy an extra tax on the product of offshored labor. Deposit it in the coffers of what we might call the Scaling Bank of the U.S. and make these sums available to companies that will scale their American operations. If the result is a trade war, treat it like other wars — fight to win. If what I’m saying sounds protectionist so be it.

Grove offers Germany, which produces more high-end goods than China — from autos to renewable energy — as a role model. For one thing, management and labor have a more cooperative relationship, emphasizing on-the-job training and avoiding layoffs by substituting wage freezes or temporary shorter work weeks.

As I pointed out in a previous post, a little-discussed feature of the European Union is that it’s a partnership between large employers and their workers, not just between countries. Works councils, which are mandatory at most companies, not only enable workers to have veto power over job losses but give them the right to meet with management to discuss mergers and the introduction of new technologies, says Steven Hill in Europe’s Promise.

What’s more, some of the most effective economies are unionized AND European. Four of the 10 best economies are the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. The European Trade Union Confederation consists of 81 unions with 60 million members compared to the AFL-CIO, which represents only 10 million workers., according to Europe’s Promise.

European countries also broker trade deals with other countries. As United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard put it, “If you look at the Scandinavian countries, if you look at Germany they’ve got strategies that include having a balanced trade agenda with China. If the Germans can have a balanced trade agenda why can’t we?”

It will take time and effort to change our labor and trade policies but Americans deserve to know what companies are outsourcing/offshoring their labor so they can choose to boycott them, as I’m doing with Apple products. Unfortunately, the GOP-dominated Congress very likely doesn’t want to offend major U.S. outsourcers, given that these companies are a major source of their campaign contributions — the Chamber of Commerce is the top spender, shelling out more than $885 million since 1998, according to CRP.

Earlier this year the House Republican majority voted down the Peters Outsourcing Accountability Amendment introduced by Rep. Gary Peters of Michigan, which would have required publicly held companies to reveal how many of their employees work overseas. I would urge you to contact your Congressperson (or Peters directly if you’re a New York resident) and urge him/her to ask Peters to re-introduce the bill. It’s a first step in keeping the vital subject of bringing jobs back home on the front burner, not to mention throwing the bums out who would dare impede an effort to bring them back.


Made in the USA Foundation, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund and Mile High Organics Sues WTO to Keep Country of Origin Labeling Act in Force

DENVER, Colo., Sept. 5, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Made in the USA Foundation led a coalition of groups filing suit against the World Trade Organization, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Agriculture to keep the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling Act (COOL) in force.  The WTO ruled this summer that COOL, which required meat from Mexico, Canada and other nations to be labeled as such, discriminated against imported beef.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Denver, Colorado.  The case seeks a court order declaring that the World Trade Organization does not have the authority to override U.S. law.  The Country of Origin Labeling Act requires all meat, fish, chicken and produce to be labeled at the grocery store with an accurate country of origin.

Canada and Mexico challenged the U.S. law at the World Trade Organization, arguing that the law unfairly discriminates against imports from these two nations.  The WTO does not have permanent judges.  The WTO appointed an appellate panel of three judges that included a Mexican lawyer who has represented Mexico in trade cases.

Joel D. Joseph, general counsel of the Made in the USA Foundation, said, “the WTO does not have the right to interfere with domestic laws of the United States.  When the U.S. joined the WTO, it agreed to do so only if the WTO could not overrule U.S. law.  More than 90% of U.S. consumers favor the Country of Origin Labeling Act.  This law does not discriminate against any country, it merely requires labeling.  Consumers have a right to decide whether to buy U.S. or imported meat, and accurate labeling is a consumer right.”  Joseph added, “the WTO’s appellate panel was unfairly biased against the United States and should not have allowed a Mexican lawyer, with an obvious conflict of interest, to sit on the panel.”

This is the third major decision of a WTO court that attempts to overturn U.S. law.  The prior two cases involved “dolphin safe” labels on tuna and a U.S. ban on flavored cigarettes.  Congress allows tuna to be labeled “dolphin safe” if it meets specific requirements.  Mexico complained that this discriminates against Mexican tuna because Mexican tuna is not fished in a manner that protects dolphins.

Indonesia filed a complaint with the WTO charging that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, that prohibits flavored cigarettes from being sold in the United States discriminates against Indonesia cigarettes.  Indonesia produces clove-flavored cigarettes and wants to sell them in the U.S.  The WTO ruled that the U.S. ban on flavored cigarettes discriminated against Indonesia.

The Made in the USA Foundation is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 to promote American-made products.  The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) represents 5,400 ranchers and cattlemen in 45 states.  Made in the USA Foundation and R-CALF were the primary supporters of the Country of Origin Labeling Act.  Mile High Organics is a food distributor in Denver, Colorado that delivers food to homes throughout the state.  Mile High Organics seeks to distribute local, Made in the USA food and supports country of origin labeling.

SOURCE Made in the USA Foundation

Betrayal of the American Dream’ analyzes how the middle class came under siege

By Hector Tobar Los Angeles Times

You may be old enough to remember the era in the United States lamented for its passing by authors Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele on nearly every page of their new book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream.”

In that bygone America, you could buy bell-bottom pants, a color television or a pair of high-platform shoes and very likely find a label on those products saying “Made in the U.S.A.” American companies made big profits, but they invested in the local communities where their products were made. The rich paid their fair share in taxes.

Bartlett and Steele pinpoint the moment when this America began to disappear as June 1979. More people were employed at U.S. factory jobs at that time than during any month before or since. About the same time, the share that the wealthiest Americans paid in taxes began to fall sharply.

American factory jobs soon started migrating to Mexico, and then to China. Not long afterward, all sorts of other tasks once performed by the guy next door — including your friendly customer service representative — were performed elsewhere, such as Bangalore, India, and Taipei, Taiwan.

Since then, three decades of laissez-faire business strategies and government policies have undercut the American middle class and the underpinnings of American democracy. At least, that’s the central argument of “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” a book that’s essential reading for those trying to make sense of our country’s current malaise.

Since the 1980s, a host of politicos, both Republican and Democrat, have sold their business-friendly reforms to the American people in the name of economic efficiency: Corporate America saves, and we all save! But the real winner, Bartlett and Steele argue, is the American “ruling class.” Among other things, the economic elite have quietly, methodically and ruthlessly restructured the tax code on behalf of the wealthiest Americans, the authors say. Tax cuts on unearned income and carried interest allow the richest of the rich to pay less income tax with each passing year.

“America’s founders, who were very well aware of how the aristocracy rigged the system to guarantee its own perpetuation, up to and including the king, would shudder,” Bartlett and Steele observe. With the American middle class under assault, the United States now is increasingly divided between rich and poor. In “The Betrayal of the American Dream,” the U.S. ruling class is portrayed as eating the American middle class for lunch and giving the leftovers to the impoverished, incipient middle classes in China and India.

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ITC Votes to Revoke OJ Anti-Dumping Order

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LAKELAND, Fla. (March 14, 2012) – The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) Wednesday struck a blow toFlorida citrus growers by voting to revoke the anti-dumping order on certain Brazilian orange juice processors.

The ITC said removing the anti-dumping order would not materially harm the Florida citrus grower despite increased Brazilian production, declining U.S. consumption and rapidly escalating costs of production.

An anti-dumping order covering three major Brazilian orange juice processors – Cutrale Citrus Juice, Citrosuco Paulista and Louis Dreyfus – has been in place since 2006. Every five years, the United States conducts a “sunset review” to determine whether duties should remain in place on Brazilian OJ or be revoked, taking into consideration how that would impact the U.S. industry, including Florida growers.

The decision came after Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) spent the past six months building a case against the Brazilians.

“Florida Citrus Mutual is extremely disappojnted with this decision and we will review next steps including an appeal,” said Michael W. Sparks, FCM’s executive VP/CEO. “Over the past five years Brazilian processors have continued to dump cheap product into the United States as their residual market and I cannot see any reason why they would stop, especially if the anti-dumping order goes away.”

Dumping is bad because it can drive domestic producers out of business while destabilizing world markets.U.S.firms can file an anti-dumping petition with the International Trade Commission, which investigate the matter.

If a domestic industry can prove foreign producers are selling product for less than “normal value,” including below the cost of production, then anti-dumping deposits can be imposed by the government.

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