Leo W. Gerard

President’s Perspective

Leo W. Gerard USW International President

Americans Want a Manufacturing Overhaul and They Want It Now

Lately it feels as if the United States is anything but united. From climate change to universal health care, from Kanye West to the validity of pumpkin spice, Americans seem divided over every issue under the sun.

But a new survey reveals there is at least one thing on which the majority of this country agrees.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) recently conducted a poll of 1,200 general election voters and found that most Americans, even across party lines, believe that U.S. manufacturing is critical to maintaining national security. They also believe workers deserve better wages and countries that cheat or side-step trade commitments should be held accountable.

Last month, the Department of Defense issued a report confirming that what American voters believe is right – U.S. manufacturing is crucial to national security. The report says that the department currently relies on China and other potential rival countries for essential materials to produce everything from steel armor plate to lithium ion batteries.

“The ability of the military to surge in response to an emergency depends on our nation’s ability to produce needed parts and systems, healthy and secure supply chains, and a skilled U.S. workforce,” the report states. “Not only is the manufacturing sector the backbone of U.S. military technical advantage, but also a major contributor to the U.S. economy.”

Both the AAM survey and the Defense Department’s conclusions prove the labor movement was right when it advocated for years for robust yet strategic policies to support domestic manufacturing. Programs reinforcing manufacturing are popular, but more importantly, they are vital to America’s basic survival.

Manufacturing is an economic generator. Every new manufacturing job supports 3.6 jobs in other sectors. Manufacturing also accounts for 60 percent of the country’s exports and 12 percent of its GDP, according to the Defense report.

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Top 1.0 percent reaches highest wages ever—up 157 percent since 1979

By Lawrence Mishel and Julia Wolfe

Newly available wage data for 2017 show that annual wages grew far faster for the top 1.0 percent (3.7 percent) than for the bottom 90 percent (up only 1.0 percent). The top 0.1 percent saw the fastest growth, up 8.0 percent—far faster than any other wage group. This fast wage growth for the top 0.1 percent reflects the sharp 17.6 percent spike upwards in the compensation of the CEOs of large firms: executives comprise the largest group in both the top 1.0 and top 0.1 percent of earners. The fast wage growth of the top 1.0 percent in 2017 brought their wages to the highest level ever, $719,000, topping the wage levels reached before the Great Recession of $716,000 in 2007. The wages of the top 0.1 percent reached $2,757,000 in 2017, the second highest level ever, roughly only 4 percent below their wages in 2007.

These are the results of EPI’s updated series on wages by earning group, which is developed from published Social Security Administration data. These data, unlike the usual source of our wage analyses (the Current Population Survey) allow us to estimate wage trends for the top 1.0 and top 0.1 percent of earners, as well as those for the bottom 90 percent and other categories among the top 10 percent of earners. These data are not topcoded, meaning the underlying earnings reported are actual earnings and not “capped” for confidentiality.


Figure A

Cumulative percent change in real annual wages, by wage group, 1979–2017

YearBottom 90%90th–95th95th–99thTop 1%
1979 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
1980 -2.20% -1.30% -0.20% 3.40%
1981 -2.60% -1.10% -0.10% 3.10%
1982 -3.90% -0.90% 2.20% 9.50%
1983 -3.70% 0.70% 3.60% 13.60%
1984 -1.80% 2.50% 6.00% 20.70%
1985 -1.00% 4.00% 8.10% 23.00%
1986 1.10% 6.40% 12.50% 32.60%
1987 2.10% 7.40% 15.00% 53.50%
1988 2.20% 8.20% 18.40% 68.70%
1989 1.80% 8.10% 18.20% 63.30%
1990 1.10% 7.10% 16.50% 64.80%
1991 0.00% 6.90% 15.50% 53.60%
1992 1.50% 9.00% 19.20% 74.30%
1993 0.90% 9.20% 20.60% 67.90%
1994 2.00% 11.20% 21.00% 63.40%
1995 2.80% 12.20% 24.10% 70.20%
1996 4.10% 13.60% 27.00% 79.00%
1997 7.00% 16.90% 32.30% 100.60%
1998 11.00% 21.30% 38.20% 113.10%
1999 13.20% 25.00% 42.90% 129.70%
2000 15.30% 26.80% 48.00% 144.80%
2001 15.70% 29.00% 46.40% 130.40%
2002 15.60% 29.00% 43.20% 109.30%
2003 15.70% 30.30% 44.90% 113.90%
2004 15.60% 30.80% 47.10% 127.20%
2005 15.00% 30.80% 48.60% 135.30%
2006 15.70% 32.50% 52.10% 143.40%
2007 16.7% 34.1% 55.4% 156.2%
2008 16.00% 34.20% 53.80% 137.50%
2009 16.00% 35.30% 53.50% 116.20%
2010 15.20% 35.70% 55.70% 130.80%
2011 14.50% 36.20% 56.90% 134.00%
2012 14.60% 36.30% 58.30% 148.30%
2013 15.10% 37.10% 59.40% 137.50%
2014 16.60% 38.70% 62.30% 149.00%
2015 20.50% 43.10% 67.90% 156.20%
2016 21.00% 43.50% 68.10% 148.10%
2017 Top 0.1%:<\/strong> \u2191 343.2%<\/strong>","labelcolor":"black","labelx":"-80"}'> 22.20% 44.20% 69.30% 157.30%
2007: 156.2%157.3%55.4%69.3%34.1%44.2%16.7%22.2%Top 1%95th–99th90th–95thBottom 90%050100150%2001980199020002010Top 0.1%:↑343.2%

Source: EPI analysis of Kopczuk, Saez, and Song (2010, Table A3) and Social Security Administration wage statistics

As Figure A shows, the top 1.0 percent of earners now earn by 157.3 percent more than they did in 1979. Even more impressive is that those in the top 0.1 percent had more than double that wage growth, up 343.2 percent since 1979 (Table 1). In contrast, wages for the bottom 90 percent only grew 22.2 percent in that time. Since the Great Recession, the bottom 90 percent enjoyed very modest wage growth, with annual wages (i.e., reflecting growing annual hours as well as higher hourly wages) up just 5.4 percent over the eight years from 2009 to 2017. In contrast, the wages of the top 0.1 percent grew 29.8 percent from 2009 to 2017 (Table 1).

Wages fell furthest among the top 0.1 and 1.0 percent of earners during the financial crisis and, as noted above, the top 0.1 percent have not yet recovered their prior earnings (though they now have just had their second best year ever).

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Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda: No Surprises

Jordan Barab

Jordan Barab Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA

Lots happening these days: the grizzly murder of a Saudi journalist, baseball championships (Go Dodgers!!), mid-term elections, Presidential temper tantrums about "Horseface" and "Pocahontas." The usual.

But by far the most important thing happening today is the Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda.  Release of the Regulatory Agenda is a much anticipated (for regulatory geeks) semi-annual event that gives the President the opportunity to boast about his  efforts to allegedly "Cut Burdensome Red Tape and Unleash the American Economy

Or, as we here at Confined Space like to call it, his efforts to cut worker, environmental and consumer protections and release the scourge of unbridled, predatory Capitalism upon the American people.

This latest version was released in the wee hours of the morning -- about the same time as the Dodgers 13th inning walkoff victory over the Brewers. Happily, at OSHA and MSHA, at least, there's not a whole lot of new protection-cutting going on. In fact, nothing significantly new has appeared on the regulatory agenda for the worker safety and health agencies.  Just the same old story -- in Democratic of Republican administrations -- pretty much everything is delayed, because the one thing that experienced regulators (or de-regulators) can agree on is that "Regulatory Agencies Plan. God laughs."

SBREFA! Say it Loud and There's Music Playing....

Let's start with some good news for a change.  OSHA has more or less met its deadline by convening a SBREFA (small business review) panel to launch the process of issuing a standard protecting telecommunication tower workers who have a tendency to fall hundreds of feet to their deaths with disturbing frequency.  This effort was launched under the Obama administration. That this would be the first SBREFA panel of this administration is not surprising as the communication tower industry has been lobbying OSHA for regulatory action. (Yes, some industries actually like regulations -- as long as they feel they can control the outcome sufficiently.)

Next up on the SBREFA front is Emergency Response, an effort started under the Obama administration, that seeks to update, consolidate and enhance OSHA's requirements for protecting emergency response workers.  This SBREFA panel is supposed to launch this month. Following Emergency Response is SBREFA for Workplace Violence, currently scheduled for March (delayed two months from its original January 2019 date.)

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Canada Erects Steel Safeguard Tariffs

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Time for another steel tariffs update!

A few months ago, Canada was considering erecting safeguard tariffs against certain steel products after America’s broad steel tariffs caused a surge of dubiously cheap imports to wash up in the Canadian market.

It looks like Canada is done considering. Those safeguards are going up. Reports the Wall Street Journal:

The goal of the so-called safeguard measures is to prevent a surge of overseas steel imports from entering Canadian markets. Canada’s steel industry has complained in recent months that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed on national-security grounds and affecting most countries, have caused more shipments of cheap steel to be diverted to Canada from the U.S. …

The new measures could address concerns from the Trump administration that foreign companies are using Canada as a backdoor to move their metals into the U.S., trade watchers say. Canada is trying to convince the U.S. to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, which it imposed earlier this year on national-security grounds. Canada is the largest foreign supplier to the U.S. of both metals.  

The national security tariffs on steel and aluminum were not lifted as a result of the renegotiated NAFTA, and have been received as an insult north of the border, according to Politico’s Alexander Panetta.   

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White House Puts Out Its Plan for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

I know we say this a lot, but there’s a lot going on these days.

So, we wouldn’t blame you if you missed this piece of news: Earlier this month, the Trump administration officially unveiled its strategy for strengthening American leadership in advanced manufacturing.

Put together by the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing, the 40-page strategy document focuses on three key goals: the development and transition of new manufacturing technologies, the education and training of the manufacturing workforce, and the expansion of domestic manufacturing across the supply chain.

Strategic objectives for achieving each goal are included in the report, along with specific outcomes that are designed to be accomplished within four years. The plan received input from across the federal government, and many federal agencies are tasked with helping to achieve the objectives.

For example, the strategy includes priorities like expanding apprenticeships and career and technical education pathways; properly enforcing Buy American policies; and recognizing the role of programs like Manufacturing USA and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in stimulating innovation and supporting small and mid-sized manufacturers.

And although it’s a product of the Trump administration, the new strategy began long before The Donald even came on the D.C. scene, when Congress passed the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act back in 2014.

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A Pattern of Poverty

A Pattern of Poverty

Union Matters

In New York, the Art of a Deal Gone Bitterly Bad

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

“If you gain fame, power, or wealth,” the philosopher Philip Slater once noted, “you won’t have any trouble finding lovers, but they will be people who love fame, power, or wealth.” Tell me about it, David Mugrabi might be thinking right about now. The billionaire art dealer and his wife Libbie Mugrabi are currently contesting a bitter divorce that has the New York couple in and out of the courts and the headlines. In July, the two tussled in a tug-of-war over a $500,000 20-inch-tall Andy Warhol sculpture. Libbie claims the incident had her fearing for her life, and a friend has testified that David angrily called her and Libbie “low-lifes” and “gold-diggers.” The latest installment: Last Tuesday, lawyers argued over how much Libbie should get for a vacation she and their two kids will be taking this Thanksgiving. Libbie’s lawyer asked for an amount commensurate with the couple’s “$3.5-million-a-year lifestyle.” The judge okayed $4,000, then added: “No one’s going to starve in this family.”

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