16
Apr
16

Americans Have No Right To Be Angry

Americans really have no right to be angry. Really?! These two newspaper articles prove that we Americans have brought our economic malaise upon ourselves. After so many years and with all of the evidence, a majority of Americans still don’t realize that we have directly caused the middle class to disappear and why all the profits go to the top 1%. The first article is “Americans prefer low prices to items ‘Made in the USA'”. The second article is “Exit Polls: Wisconsin Voters Say Trade Leads to Job Losses.”

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have turned conventional politics upside down. A large part of their message is that Americans are sick and tired of losing jobs overseas which has created a decrease in good paying jobs. This has caused an angry electorate. So, why does the angry electorate not decry the Free Trade agreements, or stopping buying slave labor made products?  I think that maybe the angry electorate either has no clue what is causing the problem or are so selfish that since it does not effect themselves personally, it won’t change their actions. I believe it is a little of both.

Is Free Trade Sinking?

Is Free Trade Sinking?

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Source: Poll: Americans prefer low prices to items “Made in the USA” – CBS News

WASHINGTON – The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled “Made in the USA,” even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

While presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are vowing to bring back millions of American jobs lost to China and other foreign competitors, public sentiment reflects core challenges confronting the U.S. economy. Incomes have barely improved, forcing many households to look for the most convenient bargains instead of goods made in America.

Employers now seek workers with college degrees, leaving those with only a high school degree who once would have held assembly lines jobs in the lurch. And some Americans who work at companies with clients worldwide see themselves as part of a global market.

Nearly three in four say they would like to buy goods manufactured inside the United States, but those items are often too costly or difficult to find, according to the survey released Thursday. A mere 9 percent say they only buy American.

Asked about a real world example of choosing between $50 pants made in another country or an $85 pair made in the United States – one retailer sells two such pairs made with the same fabric and design – 67 percent say they’d buy the cheaper pair. Only 30 percent would pony up for the more expensive American-made one. People in higher earning households earning more than $100,000 a year are no less likely than lower-income Americans to say they’d go for the lower price.

“Low prices are a positive for US consumers – it stretches budgets and allows people to save for their retirements, if they’re wise, with dollars that would otherwise be spent on day-to-day living,” said Sonya Grob, 57, a middle school secretary from Norman, Oklahoma who described herself as a “liberal Democrat.”

But Trump and Sanders have galvanized many voters by attacking recent trade deals.

From their perspective, layoffs and shuttered factories have erased the benefits to the economy from reduced consumer prices.

“We’re getting ripped off on trade by everyone,” said Trump, the Republican front-runner, at a Monday speech in Albany, New York. “Jobs are going down the drain, folks.”

The real estate mogul and reality television star has threatened to shred the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. He has also threatened to slap sharp tariffs on China in hopes of erasing the overall $540 billion trade deficit.

Economists doubt that Trump could deliver on his promises to create the first trade surplus since 1975. Many see the backlash against trade as frustration with a broader economy coping with sluggish income gains.

“The reaction to trade is less about trade and more about the decline in people’s ability to achieve the American Dream,” said Caroline Freund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It’s a lot easier to blame the foreigner than other forces that are affecting stagnant wage growth like technology.”

But Trump’s message appeals to Merry Post, 58, of Paris, Texas where the empty factories are daily reminders of what was lost. Sixty-eight percent of people with a favorable opinion of Trump said that free trade agreements decreased the number of jobs available to Americans.

“In our area down here in Texas, there used to be sewing factories and a lot of cotton gins,” Post said. “I’ve watched them all shut down as things went to China, Mexico and the Philippines. All my friends had to take early retirements or walk away.”

Sanders, the Vermont senator battling for the Democratic nomination, has pledged to end the exodus of jobs overseas.

“I will stop it by renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have,” Sanders told the New York Daily News editorial board earlier this month, saying that the wages paid to foreigner workers and environmental standards would be part of any deal he would strike.

Still, voters are divided as to whether free trade agreements hurt job creation and incomes.

Americans are slightly more likely to say free trade agreements are positive for the economy overall than negative, 33 percent to 27 percent. But 37 percent say the deals make no difference. Republicans (35 percent) are more likely than Democrats (22 percent) to say free trade agreements are bad for the economy.

On jobs, 46 percent say the agreements decrease jobs for American workers, while 11 percent say they improve employment opportunities and 40 percent that they make no difference. Pessimism was especially pronounced among the 18 percent of respondents with a family member or friend whose job was offshored. Sixty-four percent of this group said free trade had decreased the availability of jobs.

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It is strange that the party that has always supported the Free Trade Agreements are more likely than the Democrats to look unfavorably towards the Free Trade agreements. It is, also, paradoxical, that any Bernie Sanders supporters would support the Free Trade policies as he has been the only candidate who has consistently been against the Free Trade policies.
If you want to know more about the consequences of Free Trade, see my concise blog entry Why Free Trade is Devastating to the USA.
The United States is by no means out of the woods when it comes to offshoring jobs to other countries – companies are closing down plants in the United States and moving to other countries every week, see Carrier, Ford. While multi-national companies like Tyson Chicken continue to shut down all their US plants while expanding to other countries, like Hershey’s Chocolates did soon after NAFTA passed. The USA is bringing back some jobs back from other countries, but it is a trickle. And do not forget that it is quite likely that your own jobs is potentially offshorable in the next five years. According to the Congressional Research Service 25% of all service US jobs (or 40 million jobs) may be offshored. That is on top of the manufacturing jobs that are continuing to be offshored.
Spread the word: Buying Made in USA is very important and Free Trade Agreements are THE reason why we are losing so many good paying jobs.
06
Apr
16

The Sock Queen of Alabama – The New York Times

When the onetime sock capital of the world’s industry collapsed, it was “like a vacuum cleaner pulled all the people out of town.” But then Gina Locklear had an idea.

The Sock Queen of Alabama

written by Steven Kurutz in the New York Times

Source: The Sock Queen of Alabama – The New York Times

The Sock Queen of Alabama

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Nine years ago, when she was 27 and unhappily selling real estate, Gina Locklear went to her parents with a proposition. She wanted to make socks. Not the basic white socks the family had specialized in, but fashionable socks, with organic cotton and dyes.

“I want to get into the sock business,” she told them. “I want to make a sustainable sock.”

Ms. Locklear, now 36, grew up in the business. Her parents, Terry and Regina Locklear, started a mill in Fort Payne, Ala., in 1991. They made white sport socks for Russell Athletic, millions of them, destined for big-box stores and your own feet if you took gym class.

Gina’s younger sister, Emily, recalled the girls going to the mill after school, where they helped their parents sort socks into dozens or played in the bins. Named after the two daughters, Emi-G Knitting bought the Locklears a house, bought Terry a vintage Corvette and paid for the girls’ college educations.

Still, the idea of Gina and her parents making organic fashion socks, or any socks at all, seemed totally crazy, given the time and place.

The mid-2000s was a devastating period for Fort Payne. Nestled in the state’s mountainous northeast, the town of 14,000 had for decades billed itself as “the Sock Capital of the World.” The cushioned sock was invented here, and one in every eight pairs of socks sold globally was said to be knitted in Fort Payne.

A Photo of WB Davies Hosiery Mill, 1933

A Photo of WB Davies Hosiery Mill, 1933

At the industry’s peak in the 1990s, more than 120 mills employed roughly 7,500 workers. But cheap foreign labor and free-trade agreements made the town a loser in the game of global economics. Seemingly overnight, the mills closed, and the new Fort Payne became a town in China called Datang. The 2008 financial crisis finished off those who were still hanging on.

“It was like a vacuum cleaner pulled all the people out of town,” Terry said.

The Locklears held on to their mill, but barely. Orders dried up, including those from Russell Athletic, and they cut the work force to almost nothing. Terry’s goal was to keep the lights on, because he knew if he and Regina closed the doors and turned the power off, they’d never start back up.

“We’d just come here and sit,” Terry said. “We would talk, and it was, like, ‘I just don’t know what we’re going to do.’ We still had our knowledge.”

It was during these depths that Gina approached her parents with her idea. While almost everyone else in the sock business was being thrown to the exits, she passionately wanted in. “I was 12 when my parents started making socks,” Gina said. “And the realization that our family business might close made me mad.”

Her parents were skeptical. They knew how hard it was to compete and how much money it would take to start a brand. They didn’t get the whole organic thing. Most of all, they didn’t want their oldest daughter to do something she’d soon regret or tire of.

“But it’s been everything except any of that,” her father said.

Her mother added: “She absolutely loves what she does. She’s on fire.”

When you hear the words textile mill, you may picture a brick building a century old and as big as a city block. You may hear the clack-clack of jittery machinery. But Emi-G Knitting is a modern contained operation in a squat metal building on the outskirts of Fort Payne.

One recent morning, Gina was in her office, working on spring orders. She produces two lines: Zkano, an online brand she started in 2008, and Little River Sock Mill, which was started in 2013 and is sold in stores like Margaret O’Leary in Manhattan.

Zkano’s “crews” and “no shows” are a youthful riot of stripes and colors, while the Little River socks are more refined (the fall line was based on Southern quilt patterns). Both cost $13 to $30 a pair.

A "Mood Board" of socks, patterns and styles

A “Mood Board” of socks, patterns and colors hangs in Gina Locklear’s office at Emi-G Knitting

Going organic (the cotton comes from a farm in Lubbock, Tex., the dyes from North Carolina) has given Gina a marketing niche. Her socks appeal to millennials, who study labels and like a compelling origin story.

“I’m not sure most customers can detect it, but it’s certainly a bonus that they’re made from organic cotton — it adds a point of difference,” said Billy Reid, the Alabama-based men’s wear designer, who partnered with Gina to make socks based on his designs.

Last fall, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living presented Gina with an American Made award, which they give each year to a few artisans and small-business owners to provide a boost of recognition.

“Encouraging the American public to buy American-made matters,” Ms. Stewart said. “The more socks she sells, the more people she can employ.”
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Besides, “It’s a sensible business,” Ms. Stewart said. “Everyone needs socks. Women are wearing socks as a fashion statement like never before. Turn the pages of Vogue and almost every fancy dress is worn with a pair of socks.”

Indeed, the humble sock is having a moment. Brands like Stance Socks, which partnered with Rihanna on a collection, and Slate & Stone are selling vibrant hosiery, or pop socks, while Miu Miu recently outfitted runway models in marled and argyle socks.

Gina plans to introduce men’s socks to Little River this fall. Zkano already offers them. Tony Hale’s character on “Veep” wears Zkano socks, as does the actor himself.

Gina notices socks everywhere she goes, and in winter wears two pairs, one during daytime, another to bed. Her office décor is entirely hosiery-related: spools of candy-colored yarn on a shelf, mateless samples pinned to corkboards.

She lives with her husband, Al Vreeland, in Birmingham, Ala., an hour and a half’s drive away, and spends part of each week in Fort Payne, staying in her childhood bedroom. Her husband, a lawyer, is “cool” with the arrangement, she said, adding, “It’s been this way ever since we started dating.”

They were married three years ago, during the busy holiday season, at a chapel in Santa Fe, N.M., on a Saturday. “We came home on Sunday,” she said. “And then I went to Fort Payne on Monday. And that’s my life.”
Inspection of socks                                                           Ms. Locklear looks on as Rhonda Whitmire inspects socks. If there is a customer service issue, Ms. Locklear handles it herself — in addition to ordering yarn, designing both lines, doing social media marketing, processing credit card orders and lying awake nights with worry.

When she’s at the mill, her focus is on the knitting machines and whether they are aiding or conspiring against her. The machines are aqua blue and boxy like ovens. Above them, a halo of metalwork holds the yarn being fed into their bellies. Gina watched a machine work, and after a moment, in a Willy Wonka flourish, a plastic tube spit out an orange-striped sock.

“I love that,” she said.

Pointing to a machine that was noticeably different from the others, she said: “It’s the newest sock machine you can get. It’s made in Italy. It’s like a Ferrari.”

She spotted Vance Veal, Emi-G’s plant manager, and waved him over. When her parents laid off all but their most vital workers, they kept him on the payroll. Mr. Veal, 48, has worked in sock mills since he was 18. His grandparents, mother and brothers worked in the mills, too.

Since Gina came along with her six-color fashion socks, he has made the machines do things no one at Emi-G thought possible, himself included. “We didn’t used to make pattern socks,” Mr. Veal said. “Gina keeps me on my toes. She’s made me better at what I do.”

In a honeyed voice, Gina said, “Vance is the most patient person ever.”

With Mr. Veal’s expertise, Gina can make socks in small batches on site, fine-tuning and experimenting with colors, patterns and materials. It’s a competitive advantage. But running a sock mill in the age of globalization is a “roller coaster,” she said. Her parents’ business making specialty athletic socks now comes in fits and bursts, nothing like the steady, profitable Russell contract. And Zkano and Little River don’t yet sell enough to sustain the mill alone.

Last year, Emi-G downsized its work force from 45 to 30. If there is a customer service issue, Gina handles it herself — in addition to ordering yarn, designing both lines, doing social media marketing, processing credit card orders and lying awake nights with worry.

“If something happened to Vance, I wouldn’t know what we would do,” she said later. “When the sock industry left, a lot of the workers left town, and their knowledge left, too.”

 

 Vance Veal runs the day-to-day operations at the Emi-G mill. When Ms. Locklear’s parents laid off all but their most vital workers, they kept him on the payroll. Mr. Veal, 48, has worked in sock mills since he was 18. His grandparents, mother and brothers worked in the mills, too. Credit Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

Vance Veal runs the day-to-day operations at the Emi-G mill. When Ms. Locklear’s parents laid off all but their most vital workers, they kept him on the payroll. Mr. Veal, 48, has worked in sock mills since he was 18. His grandparents, mother and brothers worked in the mills, too. Credit Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

Gina and her parents drove into town to have lunch at what’s referred to in Fort Payne as the Big Mill. Now an antique store and restaurant, the Big Mill is indeed a century-old brick building as big as a city block. It’s where W. B. Davis ran the town’s first hosiery mill in the early-1900s. It’s the building that begot an industry.

Over pimento cheese sandwiches, Terry and Regina recalled their beginnings. Terry’s mother had worked in a mill, and his older brother owned one. When he was miserable selling cars down in Tuscaloosa, it seemed natural to come home and try socks.

Asked if the current building was their original location, Terry, who is 71 and has a bashful charm, said: “No. I’m almost ashamed to tell you. We started in a renovated chicken house.”

There was no air-conditioning. In the summer, they would open the big doors on both ends to get a little breeze going. “Birds would fly through while we worked,” Terry said.

With so few mills left in Fort Payne, Gina and her parents are now the old guard. But with the industry’s diminishment, they carry little of the economic or civic power of the mill owners before them.

Framed portraits of men like Mr. Davis and W. H. Cobble Sr. hang inside the Hosiery Museum, in a historic storefront downtown. The photo of V. I. Prewett, the founder of Prewett Mills, shows a gray-haired man holding a pair of tube socks.

Among the museum’s historic machinery is a brass whistle on a pole that was once used to signal the start of the workday at the Big Mill. In the morning darkness, said Olivia Cox, the vice president of landmarks for DeKalb County, Ala., the mountainside behind the factory appeared “lit by fireflies,” with the workers “walking down footpaths by lantern light to get to the Big Mill before that whistle blew.”
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Everyone in Fort Payne was touched by the hosiery industry in some way. That night, Gina stopped for dinner at a barbecue place in town; the young man behind the counter had worked in a machine shop that repaired the type of knitters Emi-G uses. His name was Bo Doeg.

He and Gina got to reminiscing about Hosiery Week, a yearly festival that Mr. Doeg described as “Mardi Gras — but for socks.”

Mr. Doeg shook his head. “This is a different world than it used to be,” he said. “Have you seen the vast number of empty buildings?”

Gina was back at the mill by 8:30 the next morning, logging orders from store buyers and considering ideas for the next Little River line, which she develops with a designer in Birmingham. “We’re thinking about Appalachian florals,” she said.

She talked about the challenges she faces, from getting organic cotton at a good price to wanting a family but not knowing how, since she spends so much time at the mill. “I’ll just be honest, it’s been a struggle,” she said.

But she is determined to keep going, to make Fort Payne a place where socks are once again made by the millions.

“It’s hard every day but I still love it,” she said. “It’s what I want to do forever.”

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From the ashes of the closed Russell Athletic sock mill, raised the Phoenix, in the form of Zkano socks. I love these types of stories – stories of coming back, the stories of small companies and not large multi-national corporations that churn out tons of clothing items per day. And Zkano socks are organic as well everything made in the USA.

30
Mar
16

Keen Increases Its Commitment to American Manufacturing | Footwear News

In recent years, Keen has boosted footwear production and doubled the size of the workforce at its Portland, Ore., factory.

Source: Keen Increases Its Commitment to American Manufacturing | Footwear News

Keen Expands Commitment to American Manufacturing

Keen Portland Factory

Inside Keen’s Portland footwear factory. Courtesy of brand.

The made-in-America movement is making progress, thanks to Portland, Ore.-based Keen.

Since launching its U.S. assembly plant in 2010, the company has been steadily expanding operations at the factory, located on Portland’s Swan Island.

And in the past couple of years, it has revved up growth in a serious way. Since 2014, its has doubled the size of the workforce at its factory, now employing more than 60 people. Production has increased 20 percent from 2015 to 2016.

The Swan Island factory currently produces 15 different SKUs from Keen’s American Built collection. Among those items are high-end outdoor hiking shoes and Utility work boots. In addition, the team recently began making its first volume sandal, the Rialto.

Keen Portland Factory
Keen Portland Factory
Inside Keen’s Portland Footwear Factory. Courtesy of brand.

Chris Heffernan, GM of the Keen Utility division, said that U.S. production offers a strategic advantage for the brand. “We are able to respond much more quickly to demand, maintain tighter control over product quality, and develop new product concepts on a significantly reduced lead time,” he said.

And Keen’s made-in-America collection also resonates with consumers. “Our consumers prefer American Built products and support companies who are bringing production and jobs back to American soil,” said Heffernan. “This is clear to us given the response and sales we’re seeing behind our Mt. Vernon, Braddock and Leavenworth workboots.”

As a result, Keen plans to continue to grow its domestic production. In 2017 alone, it intends to add another eight to 10 Utility styles.

Keen Portland Factory
Keen Portland Factory
Inside Keen’s Portland Footwear Factory. Courtesy of brand.

Helping to lead the charge is Claire Juttelstad, the new director of manufacturing. She joined the company in January after previous stints at Benchmark Knife Co. and Lacrosse Footwear.

Juttelstad oversees all operations at the Portland factory, including engineering, quality, production, cost and inventory.

“I am committed to manufacturing the finest-quality American Built work and hiking products right here at our production facility in Portland,” she said. “As a company, we are committed to significantly growing our production for 2017 and the future.”

23
Mar
16

Yes Donald, You Can Make Suits in America | Alliance for American Manufacturing

Yes Donald, You Can Make Suits in America

Yes Donald, You Can Make Suits in America | Alliance for American Manufacturing

Joseph Abboud worked with six other Made in America designers to "put together an epic collection" during New York Fashion Week. | Photo via Joseph Abboud on Instagram

Joseph Abboud worked with six other Made in America designers to “put together an epic collection” during New York Fashion Week. | Photo via Joseph Abboud on Instagram

Trump says he doesn’t make his suits here because it’s “very hard.” Here’s proof he’s wrong.

One of the prevailing storylines of the 2016 presidential election has been Donald Trump’s rather combative stance toward companies that offshore their production.

The Donald has threatened Apple. And Ford. And Nabisco. Once he’s president, Trump promises that he will force these companies to bring their production back to American shores.

Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing, we’d love to see companies like these bring their factories back to the United States. But let’s be real: Trump is a huge hypocrite.

His own line of suits and ties are made outside the United States in places like China and Mexico. Trump’s daughter Ivanka also outsources production of her popular fashion line, which includes shoes, dresses, and handbags. Trump owns up to this, saying that it’s “very, very hard to have anything in apparel made in this country.

But if Trump really wanted to manufacture his clothing line in America, he could. Below are just a handful of the (very successful!) suit and tie makers who make their products in the United States.

Joseph Abboud

The popular suits — sold at the Men’s Wearhouse chain — are made in the designer’s home state of Massachusetts. Abboud takes pride in keeping it Made in America, and even gave Gov. Charlie Baker a tour of his factory this week.

“The workforce is a highly skilled workforce,” Abboud told the Boston Globe. “When you have 700 to 800 people in your factory, they aren’t individual people, they’re families… I always say it’s great to be made in America, but our distinction is that we’re made well in America.”

Brooks Brothers

Every retail tie produced by the classic chain has at least some of it made by hand in Long Island City, just 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Some of the chain’s clothing and accessories also are made in the United States, including suits, jeans, loafers, and cuff links.

Hardwick

Founded in 1880 in Tennessee, Hardwick bills itself as “America’s Oldest Tailor Made Clothing Company.” The company’s Italian Super 150’s Navy Blazer was named a 2015 Made in the South Awards winner by Garden and Gun magazine.

Read Wall

Launched in Washington’s preppy Georgetown neighborhood, Read Wall calls itself a purveyor of “great, American tailored clothing.” Suits are made to order, and the company also prides itself on sourcing fabric from American mills whenever possible.

Hart Schaffner Marx

While Read Wall began just a few years ago, Hart Schaffner Marx traces its roots way back to 1887, when immigrant brothers Harry and Max Hart opened up a men’s store in downtown Chicago. The brand continues to thrive, as its American-made men’s suits are available at retailers such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

Hickey Freeman

Dillards and Nordstrom are among the retailers that sell suits from this New York company, whose motto is “Keep the Quality Up.” Since 1899, the retailer has made its suits in a factory in Rochester dubbed “The Temple.”

Ratio Clothing

Looking for an American-made dress or tuxedo shirt? Eric Powell founded Ratio in 2009 because he couldn’t find a quality shirt that fit well. Ratio manufactures all of its custom-made shirts in the United States, and has been featured in men’s style magazines like Esquire and Details.

Todd Shelton

Like Ratio, this New Jersey-based menswear brand is dedicated to manufacturing dress shirts that fit well. The company also offers jeans, pants and T-shirts, all of which is made at the company’s factory in East Rutherford.

This article is from The Alliance for American Manufacturing website.

22
Mar
16

Why Free Trade is Devastating to the USA

Why Free Trade is Devastating to the USA

1) The Original Idea

This is a quick look at Free Trade. I am not against trade. Trade between countries is beneficial as long as all the countries follow the rules. Historically, all countries have placed import taxes of products coming into their countries to protect their own businesses from being destroyed. Some import taxes have been much higher than others. So, in order to improve trade, Free Trade Treaties were created (only 25 short years ago) which basically repealed the import tax. Theoretically, if agreements between countries with the same standards- like the USA and Canada – were created, this would be a good idea.

Free Market Tonic

2) The Problem

The problem with the real life treaties is that the countries do not have similar economic conditions or moral convictions. A third world country will always have a lower cost of living, little regulation in the treatment of workers, unregulated working conditions and no protection of the environment  which creates a great advantage in making very inexpensive products compared to developed nations. In addition, many countries have been breaking the underlying principals of trade: some countries have: 1) de-valued their monetary units towards the U.S. dollar (thereby gaining an advantage in exporting into the US); 2) have persistently engaged in the practice of dumping – making so much a product that it artificially lowers prices and puts the other country’s businesses out of business; and 3) have been using slave labor and childhood labor.

3) Manufacturing Towns Take a Big Hit

As the Free Trade Advocates like to say so easily about Free Trade Treaties, there will be some “losers”. It was predicted that some manufacturing would be hurt, but nobody thought for a second that it would be this severe. It was acknowledged that major manufacturing cities would get hit – they were. (Think of Detroit and Flint, Michigan). But so were the small towns.

NAFTA would create jobs

Within 8 years after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act) passed, 700,000 American jobs were sent to Mexico. Here is a classic example of NAFTA: Hershey’s Chocolates no longer make any chocolate in the United States, it is all made in Mexico. As Hershey’s offshored all of its US jobs to Mexico. It has created numerous manufacturing ghost towns of cities like Oakdale, CA, Robinson, IL, Hazelton, PA, Stuart’s Draft, VA  Naugatuck, CT and, Hershey’s PA. From 1994 to 2015, the Labor Department certified that more than 216,000 workers in North Carolina were displaced by global economic pacts and qualified for assistance — making it the hardest-hit state in the country. (Ref 1).

Loss of US manufacturing jobs 1980-2012. NAFTA 1994, WTO 1995, China joins WTO 2001

NAFTA 1994, World Trade Organization 1995, China joins WTO 2001

4) The Loss of U.S. Manufacturing and Other Jobs

The loss of manufacturing jobs is sometimes called deindustrialization.  Since 1998, not only have we lost a “net” 8 million manufacturing jobs to offshoring, we continue to shed manufacturing jobs very fast almost at the same rate as we can create new ones. Also, Free Trade Advocates never mention (among many other things) is that we have lost many “associated” manufacturing jobs, like transportation, affiliated jobs, and community jobs that serviced the manufacturing workers which is usually equal to 2.5 to 3 jobs per manufacturing job. In addition (totally separate from manufacturing), there are the millions of service jobs that have been offshored to other countries just so large corporations can make greater profits.

chinas import

The winner of Free Trade: China. Loser:United States

5) Free Trade Lowers Middle Class Wages

One thing that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that middle class wages have been stagnant, and most agree that it is due to disastrous Free Trade Treaties. (Interesting reading, Jared Bernstein’s article: The Era of Free Trade Might Be Over. That’s a Good Thing. – The New York Times). The reason wages are not increasing: 1) manufacturing used to be good paying jobs, but now we have much less manufacturing jobs and the “new” manufacturing jobs that are coming back are paying less; and 2) almost all jobs can be readily off-shored, so it makes it difficult to ask for raises. In fact, 25% of all service jobs or 40 million US jobs could be sent overseas in the next few years. (Ref 3).

6) Which Party Likes Free Trade Treaties?

So, who is to blame for these Free Trade Treaties? Although they are considered “bi-partisan”, it is really more partisan. You can decide for yourself. The North American Trade Agreement NAFTA) was started by Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush in 1990 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in December 9, 1993 after being ratified by the House 234- 200 (Yeas: 132 GOP, 102 Dems, Nays: 43 GOP, 156 Dems) and the Senate 61-38 (Yeas: 34 GOP, 27 Dems, Nays: 10 GOP, 28 Dems).

Fast Track

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Pact (TPP) which will probably pass during the lame duck session (see my entry When Will the TPP Become Law)  has had a similar vote. In order to help pass the TPP, Fast Track (meaning you can not filibuster or add amendments to the the TPP), also known as the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was added. The vote in the Senate: passed 60-38 (Yeas: 47 GOP, 13 Dems; Nays: 7 GOP, 31 Dems & Ind.). The House vote: The vote was 218-208 (Yeas: 190 GOP, 28 Dems, Nays: 50 GOP, 158 Dems).

One of the things that have made Republicans so mad (besides listening to right wing media) is that their political party has consistently made their lives worse by supporting Trickledown economic theories, with the worst one being the Free Trade Treaties. And yet, the Republicans want to pass an even bigger one, the TPP, which is expected to cost the US 2 million jobs in just one year. (Ref 2).

stop the TPP

7) Other Criticisms of Free Trade

There are many arguments besides economic against Free trade policies. First, Free Trade heavily favors large corporations destroying infant industries as well as the small and medium sized companies. It undermines long-run economic development – it is difficult to revive manufacturing ghost towns, and difficult to plan for growth when American jobs can be offshored at any time. Free Trade has definitely caused income inequality, and environmental degradation.

Born to Work Picture from the Daily Beast in 2009

Born to Work
Picture from the Daily Beast in 2009

Free Trade is supportive of countries sticking to their native practices which often means supporting child labor and working in sweatshops where workers get no benefits in often poorly ventilated and dangerous work environments.

Bangladesh factory collapse

Bangladesh Clothing factory collapse

Free Trade has definitely caused the race to the bottom, wage slavery, accentuating poverty in poor countries, harming national defense, and forcing cultural change. One additional criticism is that it allows large corporations to ignore local, state and governmental rules and laws: U.S. Appeals WTO Ruling on Meat Labeling Laws – where the American Meat Institute refused to label their meats as to where the originated. The Congress has successfully repealed the Country of origin labeling law this past winter. Instead of raising global standards, free trade tries to lower standards of countries that are more advanced. We need to stop all of these Free Trade Treaties, because they are devastating to the USA in so many ways.

free-trade-at-last-cartoon

20
Mar
16

Men’s American-Made PF Flyers – Made in America

American Made PF Flyers

Link: PFFlyers

PF Flyers is an iconic brand that disappeared from sight for a number of years, but just this past year, one line of PF Flyers, called Center Hi, is now made in the USA. New Balance had bought the brand name in 2001, but because some “Made in USA”  products have found a niche market (especially the retro products), they have brought back this one model to be made in the USA. New Balance is the only maker of athletic shoes in the USA.

Description

You can’t replace a classic, but you can bring it back, bettered. Merging retro 1960s athletic styling with the comfort of a contemporary running shoe, the new USA-made PF is fitted with a leather toe cap and full pigskin lining, and features a performance insert and high-tech midsole for exceptional cushioning. The colors available: White, black, blue, burgundy, grey and leather.

Guideboat company link: Men’s American-Made PF Flyers – Men’s Footwear

PF Flyers black

PF Flyers Center Hi – black

The Story of PF Flyers

At the turn of the century, innovative tire manufacturers discovered a new use for their vulcanized rubber and canvas techniques: casual footwear.

One such pioneer was BF Goodrich, who manufactured several lines of vulcanized athletic shoes, oxfords, heels and boots. In 1933, Goodrich patented the Posture Foundation insole. This early innovation in comfort forever changed the sneaker landscape and quickly became immensely popular. In 1937, Goodrich brought several of their footwear lines under the brand name “P-F.”

The PF brand grew throughout the ’50s and ’60s,becoming one of the most popular brands in America “for work, relaxation and play.” Women could buy outfits designed to match their PFs, basketball’s first superstar, Bob Cousy, wore PF, and PF was standard issue in the US Army.

PF Flyers white

BF Goodrich posted an impressive $29 million in shoe sales in 1971, but they soon decided to quit the shoe business altogether and sold PF to Converse’s parent company. For a handful of years, PF shoes by Converse were produced; however, the merger was ruled a monopoly and PF was sold once again,trading hands several times.The brand slowly drifted into obscurity, but it was far from forgotten. PF gained a permanent place in American mythology, appearing heroically in movies such as the 1993 classic film,“The Sandlot.”

In 2001, New Balance purchased PF Flyers, viewing it as a great match to their high-performance American brand. With pride in the heritage of PF and a determination not to rely solely on past success, PF designers modernized Posture Foundation and New Balance re-launched the PF brand in 2003. The brand has been regaining momentum since then, and remains true to its original mission of creating premium, classic sneakers rooted in authentic American style.

PF Flyers Center Hi - Blue

PF Flyers Center Hi – Blue

New Balance has just done a joint product with Tanner Goods of Portland, Oregon and have developed an all leather PF Flyers.

PF Flyers - Leather

PF Flyers – Leather

You can shop for all of these models at pfflyers.com.

 

18
Mar
16

Abboud Factory A ‘Model’ For Other Companies

Bringing American manufacturing jobs back to the United States is a key issue in the presidential race. Clothing designer Joseph Abboud is an expert.

Source: Abboud Factory A ‘Model’ For Other Companies « CBS Boston

Abboud Factory: A Model For Other Companies

NEW BEDFORD (CBS) – Bringing American manufacturing jobs back to the United States is a key issue in the presidential race. Clothing designer Joseph Abboud is an expert.

Since 1987, he’s manufactured high-quality men’s suits and sport coats at a factory in New Bedford. He calls the facility the foundation of his brand. “First, we’re really proud we’re made in America. But the real distinction is making it well in America….This isn’t just flag-waving. It’s really special.”

He wishes every presidential candidate could tour the factory.

“I would say they have to come visit places like this to see what the American worker does and how proud they are. Bring more jobs back to America…I think that’s what the focus should be.”

Abboud insists it is not more expensive to make his men’s suits and sport coats in the U.S. He calls that a myth—explaining that the clothing goes straight from the factory to the customer. “We don’t have the middle with a wholesale-retail margin,” he says.

Mass. Governor Charlie Baker tours Joseph Abboud factory in New Bedford (WBZ-TV)

Mass. Governor Charlie Baker tours Joseph Abboud factory in New Bedford (WBZ-TV)

High-quality Italian fabrics arrive at the factory where they are cut, assembled, stitched and sewn. There are 203 different steps per suit. New technology and machinery ensure consistency. But it’s the workers who run those machines, build the clothing and produce 300,000 suits per year.

For Abboud, a Roslindale native, employing so many people in Massachusetts is a special point of pride. Many of them stay for decades.

Abboud was eager to introduce Governor Charlie Baker to some of those workers during the Governor’s first visit to Abboud’s factory. The Governor, clearly impressed, pointed to manufacturing positions—which often get far less attention than technology jobs—as those that make it possible to “…buy a home, raise a family, build a life. I think we should focus on more of that.”

Now that the Governor’s visited the factory, we asked Abboud whether he would extend an open invitation to the men and women running for President. “I would love for them to come! We’ll make them a suit. And it will be made in America!”

Perhaps, Abboud says, by a new employee. He is looking to hire 40 more workers immediately.

Thanks to Alliance for American Manufacturing for highlighting this article.



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