Posts Tagged ‘Alliance for American manufacturing


Interview with Author of “What If Things Were Made America Again?”

Source: Q&A: Want to See More American-Made Stuff? Buy More American-Made Stuff. | Alliance for American Manufacturing

(An Interview with James Stuber, author of the book: “What If Things Were Made in America Again: How Consumers Can Rebuild the Middle Class by Buying Things Made in American Communities.”)

That’s one of the messages author and activist James Stuber is trying to spread.

While James Stuber was changing a burned out light bulb in his home one day in 2012, he had his own personal light bulb moment.

James Stuber

“I took out the lightbulb to replace it and I looked at it and on it was the GE (General Electric) logo and underneath that in all capital letters was the word CHINA,” Stuber said. “The juxtaposition of the two things — since I considered GE stood for Thomas Edison and all things American — made me think if GE is making its light bulbs in China, maybe we have a problem.”

Stuber had been shopping a few days prior to the light bulb moment and noticed that most everything in the store had been made in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

“These things all kind of grabbed a hold of me and I wouldn’t let go,’’ said Stuber, who has built a career as an attorney, legislative aide on Capitol Hill, entrepreneur, and candidate for Congress. “I really wanted to know what the heck was going on.”

He began what turned out to be three years of research and in 2017, Stuber added author to his resume with the release of his book “What if Things Were Made in America Again: How Consumers Can Rebuild the Middle Class by Buying Things Made in American Communities.”

The goal of Stuber’s book was to answer three pertinent questions: Why does it seem like everything is made somewhere else? Isn’t that causing a problem? And if it is, what can be done about it?

America has an approximately $800 billion trade deficit with countries around the world, nearly half of which is a whopping $365 billion trade imbalance with China.

But despite the complexities of trade policy and the U.S. economy, Stuber reached the conclusion that American consumers are the most likely of all factors to rein in the constantly rising trade deficit and help put America back on a level playing field with our trading partners.

Stuber holds bachelors and masters degrees in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, respectively, and a law degree from Georgetown University. He resides in Berwyn, Pa. with his wife and four teenage children.

In an interview, Stuber explains why American consumers can provide the most effective economic bailout with their power to purchase American-made goods.

Jeffrey Bonior: Why does it seem like everything we see in our stores is made in some other country?

James Stuber: The short answer is because it is. I did research on the various categories of goods, and 95 percent of our apparel is coming from overseas, 70 percent of our appliances, 70 percent of our electronics. There are whole categories of goods that over the decades we have just sent somewhere else to be made.

JB: How and why did this happen?

JS: The U.S adopted faulty free trade theories, globalization happened, and China entered the global market. China had gone communist in 1949, so a lot of this was fighting communism by giving countries like Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and these Asian tigers whole industries starting with clothing. It gave these countries some of our markets instead of having them trade with communist China.

The second era is what I call the China Globalization Era, from 1995 to 2015, when we stepped onto the globalization merry-go-round just outsourcing everything. The big thing, the inflection point, was in 2001 when we granted China permanent favored nation tariff treatment and admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Then things really took off. The irony about this and the thing that really bothers me is that our leaders, who are supposed to know what they are doing, were pursuing these free trade policies that clearly made no sense.

JB: The stock market is thriving and unemployment is at 3.9 percent, so isn’t America doing well?

JS: Most of us are not doing very well at all compared to the cost of living in America. And what we’ve been doing to ordinary Americans raises profound moral questions. The stock market almost has nothing to do with the working and middle class, and the unemployment numbers are misleading because it counts bad jobs, jobs where people are working almost no hours even though they wish they had a full-time job. So, when you look deeper, 10 percent would probably be a more realistic number for people that are underemployed and underpaid. Wages are basically stagnant. The Federal Reserve said that 40 percent of Americans couldn’t immediately come up with $400 in an emergency. We are on thin ice and people know it.

JB: Your book touches on all things made in America, but how important is it for the U.S. to have a thriving industrial base like the steel and automotive industries?

JS: My passion for this grew out of my family working in the steel mills in Pittsburgh and Steubenville. The mill where The Deer Hunter was filmed in Mingo Junction, Ohio is the town where my parents grew up in and all my family worked. I pick up the story in in the book in 1945 when our soldiers were fighting their way across Europe and the islands of the Pacific and there were a couple of places where the Japanese and Germans both saw these columns and columns of American tanks, jeeps and trucks and realized what they were up against. There was a mill in California that made all of the Liberty Ships and it was really America’s industrial might, the core of which was steelmaking, that carried the day in World War II.

Now we are locked in another geopolitical fight with China and Russia and not realizing the importance from a security standpoint of the steel industry. I’ve concluded no economy is strong without a strong manufacturing sector. And to rely on other countries for either the raw steel or things in the steel supply chain is just hollowing out our economy. You need steel for security and you need steel for a strong economy.

JB: What is your opinion of President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, and why do you think there is such a pushback from some downstream manufacturers?

JS: It is disheartening to see how quickly many U.S. companies are to throw under the bus those companies farther upstream in the supply chain just to protect their own niche. But they are mistaken if they believe that they are not themselves vulnerable to foreign competition. The Chinese and other mercantilists want to occupy the entire supply chain, especially in high value-added products. This is all spelled out in China’s “Made in China 2025” plan.

I don’t understand why we are hearing such vociferous objections to paying a fair price for steel, one that includes paying workers a living family wage and a modest profit for the company.

JB: How will consumers purchasing Made-in-America products alleviate our trade deficit?

JS: Consumers, and only consumers, can solve this problem. We can bring home $650 billion in spending, create 6 or 7 million jobs and get a virtuous circle going in the economy.

I think that if consumers realize that what we are doing now is not sustainable and that there is a very high cost to that low price of goods, it will drive consumers to want to do this. If they realize the stakes are high and they really have the power to rebuild the American economy and get us growing at a faster clip, I think they will do it. They need this education. Once they read my book and get the facts, they will stop and just pay attention to their purchasing power.

I sometimes approach people and say, ‘I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your smartphone was made in a labor camp, your clothes were made in a sweatshop and your fish were caught by a slave ship.’ This is morally wrong and has caused a massive increase across the world in what two Princeton economists have called Death of Despair.

JB: Your theory has merit, but isn’t the bottom line that people will be spending more for products?

JS: Yes, sometimes. My son’s first hammer cost $25 instead of $15. It was worth it to support the community that made it. Often things don’t cost more. Oreo cookies, now made in Mexico, cost the same price as they did when they were made in Chicago.

JB: How can you get the American consumers to understand that something Made in America is an investment in their own lives and communities?

JS: It is going to require an education process to change a lot of consumer thinking. Where we are right now [is] just focused on price, price, price. We are not recognizing the high cost of that low price. In foreign countries where laborers are exploited and the high cost in the U.S. starting with families that lose their manufacturing jobs in the community and the high cost to all of us who are paying taxes and trying to deal with all this dependency, drug addiction and social problems. If you add all that up into the price of that good, [what] we thought was a low price really wasn’t such a low price at all. That’s going to require a wake-up call for many Americans.

JB: Is it realistic for American consumers to pay higher prices for Made in America products?

JS: It is. Just look at the evidence for people willing to buy organic or buy green. People are paying a lot more for these things, which they perceive of particular value. We see other trends where people are willing to pay more for something they really care about. Of course, you start with the people that are able to pay more, and work your way down through the economy, and as you do the prices come down and it will kind of converge at some point. It seems like right now everything in the food store is organic, and the prices are a lot less than they used to be.

At one time I was involved in the tourism business in Florida and you heard about hotels advertising they were green hotels. I was thinking, ‘Who cares if their hotel is green?’ Well, it turned out consumers did. The hotel companies responded by rebuilding or retrofitting those hotels to make them green. So, consumers are saying to builders: ‘I care about those components in my house,’ and there was a change to make them green. It’s not going to be easy but it’s doable, very doable.

And then you really know you are helping someone in America. It is easy to look up these companies if you want to. (Editor’s note: Check out our directory!) They are often in small towns and your purchase is helping these communities. You can indeed be assured you are helping someone when you buy American.

JB: Do you have additional strategies to influence Buy American?

JS: There is a third leg to my story and it is the policy leg. Although I believe consumers can do this without asking the government for support or permission, there are other things we want to ask the government for. And two of them are related as a consumer solution.

The big one I want to pursue is a fair country of origin labeling where people can tell really where something is coming from. While there are several laws that cover that, the information should be prominently displayed in advertising, in catalogues, in online displays and in stores so through the packaging consumers can make an informed choice. This is an area where we are sorely lacking right now.

The other thing is to strengthen the Buy America laws at the national, state and local levels so when the government is spending your tax dollars, the school board is going to be able to buy a desk that was made in Pennsylvania or someplace in the United States. And these American companies end up paying taxes that will go to the schools. It really is a no-brainer.

The best thing a consumer can do is to support an American community by buying something made in that community. Every American needs to know this story. It will be a game-changer for them in their purchasing habits. And a game changer for the American economy.

To purchase “What if Things Were Made in America Again” and learn more about the consumer Buy America movement, visit or


Baseball Equipment Made in USA

Baseball Equipment Made in USA

Baseball is back!

From the bats to the hats, Made in America is a big part of baseball.

For a sport that’s been historically dubbed as our National Pastime, baseball still lives up to its atmosphere of patriotism. But is the equipment that our idolized athletes rely on to perform still Made in America?

With the nationwide breadth of activity and competition baseball commands, it’s harder and harder to find products that are made in the United States. Hall-of-Famer Leo Durocher once said, “There are only five things you can do in baseball: run, throw, catch, hit, and hit with power.” Here’s a quick guide of gear manufactured by companies that support American jobs to help you do just that.

Bats: This product is about as synonymous with baseball as ice is to ice hockey. The almighty Louisville Slugger and its Kentucky-born brand still operate and manufacture in the United States, helping MLB all-stars like Ryan Zimmerman chalk up hits. It’s also union-made, by United Steelworkers Local 1693.

Balls: Rawlings is the supplier of all baseballs used in the Major and Minor Leagues. Although founded and headquartered in Missouri, the company’s official game balls are now manufactured in Costa Rica.

Bases: Schutt makes all the bases used in the MLB in Litchfield, Ill.

Gloves: There’s a lot of choices here, but many pros use Rawlings’ gloves. While the company’s larger market production has diversified overseas, Rawlings’ pro and custom models are made in Missouri. You can even have your glove tailor-made to fit your hand, just like National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Alternatively, Nokona Ballgloves out of Texas offer handcrafted gloves that are 100 percent American-made.

Protection: This is another area where the mass market has opted to produce overseas. But Schutt Sports still sells helmets, catcher’s pads, and other gear that’s been made in the United States. Just make sure to check the label before you buy.

Cleats: New Balance, headquartered in Boston, boasts some of the best baseball cleats in the game. A company committed to making footwear in the USA, New Balance is transparent that some of their production is overseas. Like helmets and pads, check before you buy.

Hats: New Era Cap Company owns exclusive licensing rights to the MLB (and the NBA and NFL) and makes the official on-field hats for the league. Founded in Buffalo, New Era makes many of their hats in their city of origin. Some of the company’s caps are still produced overseas, so it’s another case of checking the label. If you want your hat guaranteed American-made, check out Americap Baseball Caps, produced in North Carolina.

Editor’s Note

Interesting this article didn’t mention the major league uniforms. Another relevation is that the American baseball is no longer made in America. Since mid 2015, Major League Baseball off-shored their baseball manufacturing to Costa Rica. So what happens, the balls are made cheaper, but also made differently. These “new and improved baseballs” have flatter seams and smaller circumferences which causes an increase of home runs by 4%, according to writer, Ben Lindbergh and  Mathematician, Mitcel Lichtman in fivethirtyeight. In 2017, 6,105 Home runs were hit in the regular season, eclipsing the previous record, in 2000, a product of the Steroid Era 5,693 home runs. Isn’t that great? Major League Baseball owners by using a cheaper baseball, made in Costa Rica, now have a Home Run barrage. I guess, it is better than when all the owners (and I mean every single one of them) turned a blind eye to the open usage of anabolic steroids. Of course, MLB owners deny that the baseball flies farther. Yea, sure. Why not just put a superball in the center of the baseball and put aerodynamic dimples on the cover? Happy Home Runs and Strikeouts!

Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for the article.


Harley Davidson Closing Down Kansas City Plant

Harley Davidson Closing Down Kansas City Plant

President Trump, right, and Vice President Mike Pence check out Harley-Davidson motorcycles at the White House in February 2017. | Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The company once promoted its American manufacturing footprint at the White House.

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Almost exactly one year ago, executives from Harley-Davidson visited the White House as part of an effort by newly inaugurated President Donald Trump to promote American manufacturing. Trump thanked the Wisconsin-based company for building its iconic motorcycles in America and pledged to rebalance trade to drive more U.S. manufacturing.

On Tuesday, Trump gave his first State of the Union address to Congress, in which he continued to promise to act on trade to strengthen manufacturing (he hasn’t actually done much, but more on that over here).

Meanwhile, Trump’s big speech overshadowed an announcement by Harley-Davidson that also happened on Tuesday: The company said on a call to its investors that it will shut down its factory in Kansas City in 2019, leading to 800 layoffs:

“Tuesday’s announcement to investors was a complete surprise to employees, three fourths of whom are represented by one of two unions.

‘They didn’t even give us a call ahead of time,’ said Joe Capra, directing business agent for Local 778 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. ‘It is real devastation for these people who work here and work hard in the Kansas City area.’”

Harley-Davidson cited sluggish motorcycle sales as the reason for the closure; its worldwide sales fell 6.7 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, and U.S. sales specifically were down 8.5 percent. The company will shift some of the production at the Kansas City plant to its facility in Erie, Pa., which will create about 450 jobs there.

Analysts say the company faces an uphill battle in terms of sales, as motorcycle-loving baby boomers are getting older and millennials aren’t as interested in motorcycles.

But it’s also worth noting that while Harley-Davidson is shuttering an American factory, it is expanding its manufacturing footprint overseas – the company is building a factory in Thailand that is expected to open this year.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, whose union represents some Harley-Davidson workers, called that decision “a slap in the face to the American worker.” The USW ended its two-decade partnership agreement with Harley-Davidson in September.

“This decision puts in jeopardy one of the few remaining genuine U.S. brands,” Gerard said. “Our members have been true partners with this company, working in good times and bad to make great products that fostered its growth and success. We remember the U.S. government stepping up in the 1980s to save Harley-Davidson and contributing to its revival.

“Harley owners and prospective buyers across the globe want to continue to enjoy machines made in America that provide quality rides and unique experiences. Harley’s potential outsourcing of production puts all of this at risk.”

Emil Ramirez, who represents USW District 11 that includes Kansas City, referenced the new Thailand factory in a statement about the factory closure, according to the Star.

“We cannot speculate about how the company plans to replace this production or to what extent these good-paying, family-supporting, American jobs will be outsourced to facilities the company has opened in Asia and other parts of the world,” Ramirez said.

There’s no doubt that Harley-Davidson’s decision is disappointing, to put it mildly. Not only will 800 people lose their jobs, but the closure of that factory will be a major blow to many others in Kansas City who depend on it for their own business.

Harley-Davidson also announced Tuesday that it expects to launch its first electric motorcycle within 18 months, part of an effort to attract new consumers.

Here’s hoping the company makes those motorcycles in the United States.



Meet the Haverhill Duo Looking to Disrupt American Workwear Apparel Industry

1620 Workwear

Meet the Haverhill Duo Looking to Disrupt the American Workwear Apparel Industry

If superheroes get on about their business due to the proper-suiting by their very own Lucius Fox or Tony Stark, than the tradespeople, blue collar workers, and fans of workwear-as-fashion should get a little two-man outfit north of Boston on their radar.

Because tucked in a fourth floor corner office space, with views peering out over the neighboring faded brick industrial mill buildings and manufacturing plants dotting the Merrimack River in Haverhill, Mass., Josh Walker and Ted De Innocentis are single handedly attempting to disrupt the American workwear industry one tech and design-driven pant leg at a time at 1620 Workwear.

“In every single wearable category in the world, premium exists,” says Walker. “Technical exists. And for first time ever in U.S. culture, tradesman and blue collar workers making money are being celebrated, but for a long time workwear has been this crazy undervalued, looked-down upon shitty product category for wearables.”

1620 Founders Ted De Innocentis (l), Josh Walker (r)

The team originally launched the brand out of Walker’s family barn in Newbury in 2016, and since then have zeroed in on trends in American outsourcing both noticed after years of working separately in mainland China, managing garment and wardrobe manufacturing.

One glaring trend in existence since the railroads were built in America, is that tradespeople have been forced endure the same breed of simple, cheap work gear (essentially canvas pants and fabrics that anyone who has ever worn a pair while being active can understand their need to be faded out). When those fail (and they do with regular use) the solution later became “workarounds”, basically a hodgepodge of blue collar uniforms mixing cheap or go-to fabrics with more durable tactical gear found for hunting and outdoor gear and so on.

To solve this, 1620 partnered with Tweave, a Bay State cutting edge stretch-woven fabric manufacturer whose clients are the likes of Hollywood, the NFL, and even the U.S. Military. Their advanced proprietary technologies for spinning more durable, elastic and abrasion resistant yarn, and tech-driven spandex material was the perfect fit for the team’s vision. The gear they are crafting here at home is lighter, more natural feeling, breathable, and can take a beating when things like fatigue play (people getting tired on the job and hurting themselves) and durability are a matter of life and death.

“If you’re embedded in Afghanistan, your shit can’t fail,” says Walker. He says the fact that they are working with the most advanced material, workmanship and design elements used in military and professional sports gear, and the knowledge how to assemble all that, creates this premium product. That, and a regional proximity bonus.

“For us it just so happens that one of the best two or three fabric mills in the entire world is based in Norton,” says Walker. “We’re passionate about making stuff right here. It’s not a nationalist, flag-waving thing. It’s just a local community, local support, supporting your hyperlocal community. American manufacturing should exist here, and other countries are killing it.”

“Every single year more and more of the traditional all-American work brands [move manufacturing] offshore and none of the stuff is made here. Our customer is looking for premium, best in class, U.S.-made products,” says De Innocentis. “We’re making this for people who want this stuff.”

For now 1620 is producing all menswear, but as the company grows so will its offerings, and women are more of their key demographic than ever before, as it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the trades.

The company has also teamed up with local and national brand ambassadors to ensure that the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Think: Daniel Lanigan, owner of Lord Hobo Brewing in Woburn and Cambridge, and even an Amesbury, Mass.-based professional BMW racing team, for which 1620 created custom special pit crew suits using core-spun spandex wrapped like fishing line for high tenacity and ten times as resistant to abrasions and cuts as your average pair of Carhartts or Dickies.

“We use military spec materials, so this is basically it’s our version of tactical Special Forces pants,” says Walker with a laugh. “The fabrics we get out of our Massachusetts factories, is comparable to the best of anything I’ve seen made anywhere. It’s small batch, high end American manufacturing. And it’s badass.”

Editor’s Comment

Forget Dickies. Get your best well-made, Made in America workwear at 1620.

Thanks to Alliance of American Manufacturing for pointing out this article.



Time: The Voters Trump Forgot

Time: The Voters Trump Forgot

Time: The Voters Trump Forgot by Molly Ball February 26,2018

Vonie Long, president of the United Steelworkers’ local union in Coatesville, Pa.
Vonie Long, president of the United Steelworkers’ local union in Coatesville, Pa.
Jeffrey Stockbridge for TIME

By Molly Ball / Coatesville, Pa.

February 15, 2018

Donald Trump was saying everything Vonie Long wanted to hear, not that Long believed him.

The head of the United Steelworkers’ local union in Coatesville, Pa., Long was sitting in his electrical-maintenance truck in June 2016, listening on the radio to Trump give a speech on trade at an aluminum plant on the other side of the state, outside Pittsburgh. Trump had begun with a tribute to the steelworkers who built America. He blasted the politicians who pursued globalization and pledged to fight unfair trade practices that threatened U.S. jobs. Most of all, he made promises, from renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to imposing a tariff on steel.

Long, a stout man with a bristly gray mustache, was impressed. Republicans didn’t usually talk like this. “Any of us steelworkers could have given that exact speech,” he told me recently. And while Long, a Democrat, voted against Trump, after the election he hoped that Trump might actually follow through.

But it hasn’t panned out that way. A year into Trump’s term, the factories have not roared back. His accomplishments–a massive corporate tax cut, a strong stock market–have largely redounded to the benefit of the bankers and fat cats. Trump has taken few of his promised actions on trade and manufacturing. The American steel industry has suffered as the market floods with imports, forcing prices down, all while the Administration dithers and delays over tariffs.

As Long sees it, no one should feel more betrayed by the Trump presidency than the archetypical Trump supporter: the white working-class voter whom Trump dubbed the Forgotten Man. And yet, to his great frustration, many of his fellow blue collar workers don’t seem to grasp how Trump has abandoned them. As of last month, the President’s approval rating was 46 percent among white non-college-educated voters, down 7 points since he took office, according to the polling firm Morning Consult. “The most vocal supporters of him, they’re just unwavering,” Long says, shaking his head.

Coatesville was once known as “Pittsburgh East” for its steel production. Today the local steelworkers’ union has just a few hundred workers at the town’s plant
Coatesville was once known as “Pittsburgh East” for its steel production. Today the local steelworkers’ union has just a few hundred workers at the town’s plant
Jeffrey Stockbridge for TIME

The immovable loyalty of Trump’s narrow but vocal base has broad ramifications, not just for the Democratic Party but also for the nation. Unbridgeable divides make governing nearly impossible: there can be no consensus in a politics of blind tribalism. But the real tragedy of Trump’s broken promise to the working man is the missed opportunity it represents. Trump had a chance, advocates argue, to bring back American manufacturing–and spur a populist political realignment in the process. Many of the residents of Trump Country, the nation’s hollowed-out former industrial heartland, still hold out hope that he can do it. But the President seems to have forgotten them.

The blue collar man is the mascot and enigma of the Trump era: endlessly analyzed, endlessly interrogated. Reporters and researchers have returned again and again to Trump Country since 2016, asking the same question–What do you think of the President now?–and getting the same answers: It’s a witch hunt. He’s shaking things up.

Scott Paul, head of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, has given up asking; the answers are always unsatisfying. “There’s a lot of forgiveness,” Paul, a slight, fine-featured 51-year-old, tells me as he drives his battered Ford SUV down the two-lane highway out of Coatesville. “There’s kind of a list of reasons why he hasn’t done this or hasn’t done that.” But Paul keeps coming back to places like Coatesville anyway. He’s not on a mission to win votes for the Democrats. His aim is to try to get the President to keep his commitments.

A picturesque town of 13,000, Coatesville was once known as “Pittsburgh East” for its booming steel industry that employed as many as 8,000 people. The massive plant that looms over the town is the U.S.’s longest continuously operating steel mill, open since 1810. It produced the 152 nine-story fork-shaped supports that formed the base of the original World Trade Center–many of which stayed standing when the towers fell on Sept. 11. It makes nuclear-submarine parts and mine-resistant armor for military vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today the plant is badly diminished. In 2003, it was acquired by an investment group led by Wilbur Ross, now Trump’s Secretary of Commerce; it was eventually bought by the Luxembourg-based industry giant ArcelorMittal, and operates at a fraction of its capacity. The steelworkers’ local that Long oversees now has just 580 members at the plant.

Like Long, Paul hails from Trump Country, having grown up in rural northwestern Indiana. A former trade lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, his association is funded by American steel unions and manufacturers. And while he didn’t vote for Trump, he understood why so many working-class white people did.

“When you see Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin all end up in the same place,” Paul tells me, “there’s a reason for it.” Trump’s opposition to globalization broke with the GOP’s elite consensus. But it tapped a wellspring of sentiment in the party’s base that politicians like Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan recognized decades ago. There’s a similar fissure in the Democratic Party, where populists like Bernie Sanders opposed the Obama Administration’s push for deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s not a coincidence, Paul believes, that both Sanders and Trump drew so much support from the industrial Midwest.

To be sure, some white working-class voters were nativists who thrilled to Trump’s rants against China, Mexicans and Muslims. Paul doesn’t deny that racism and sexism played a role but says that “some of it is a sense that their manufacturing communities have been left behind.” President Obama promised to add a million manufacturing jobs in his second term; the total came to only about 360,000.

Business is booming and workers are in demand at the John Rock Inc. pallet company in Coatesville. Owner Bill MacCauley says Trump’s recently enacted tax cuts spurred him to invest in new equipment
Business is booming and workers are in demand at the John Rock Inc. pallet company in Coatesville. Owner Bill MacCauley says Trump’s recently enacted tax cuts spurred him to invest in new equipment
Jeffrey Stockbridge for TIME

Paul was willing–even eager–to work with Trump. He saw it as an encouraging sign when the just-elected President asked him to serve on a newly created advisory council on manufacturing jobs. “A year ago, I thought there was a reasonable possibility we’d get an infrastructure bill, we’ll get ‘Buy American’ laws, there’ll be a crackdown on China, he’s going to look out for the steel industry, and he’s going to renegotiate NAFTA,” Paul says. “That’s something I wanted to be a part of.”

Instead, Paul found himself cringing as Trump did things he didn’t support, from pulling out of the Paris Agreement to the ban on travelers from some Muslim-majority countries. In August, when Trump hesitated to denounce the deadly white-nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va., Paul hit his breaking point. He was one of eight members to resign from the manufacturing initiative, which the White House then disbanded.

Since then, Paul has watched from the sidelines as Trump’s promises have been indefinitely delayed. The lack of progress on a controversial Chinese steel tariff is a case in point. An obscure provision, Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, allows the U.S. to restrict imports if national security is at stake. In an April ceremony at the White House attended by steelworkers’ representatives and CEOs, Trump announced an investigation into steel imports under Section 232. But the Administration’s original June deadline has come and gone, and still no decision has been announced.

The “Buy American” order Trump signed in January didn’t actually, as he claimed, require that the Keystone XL oil pipeline be built from American steel. The trade deficit with China recently hit $375 billion, the highest level in history. Although Trump pulled out of TPP and has undertaken talks to renegotiate NAFTA, all the trade agreements the U.S. was a party to when he took office remain unchanged. It wasn’t until Feb. 12 that the White House finally unveiled its infrastructure plan, to indifference on Capitol Hill. Rather than support building new highways and bridges and airports and railways, as Trump once promised, the proposal provides seed money to encourage private companies to build things like toll roads.

The lack of action is partly the result of a battle under way within Trump’s own Administration. Trade hawks like Peter Navarro and Robert Lighthizer stoke Trump’s protectionist impulses, only to be resisted by more mainstream economic advisers, from Gary Cohn to Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, the Chinese have wooed the President aggressively, with apparent success: so far, the only win for the protectionists has been a minor action imposing trade restrictions on solar panels and washing machines. (Recently, the President has appeared to refocus on these priorities, touting infrastructure and meeting with senators on tariffs. “Everything that President Trump has done since taking office has been directed toward making the country better for all Americans,” a White House official told me, “including the men and women who had felt forgotten by decades of bad deals and regulations that sent their factories and jobs overseas.”)

Economists differ on the potential effect of trade restrictions. But in the near term, the effect of Trump’s indecision on towns like Coatesville has been immediate. When Trump announced the Section 232 investigation, other countries began pumping out steel to ship to the U.S. before a tariff took hold. The glut of supply sent steel prices tumbling. A pipe mill outside Harrisburg has had layoffs, as has a steel mill in Conshohocken. Another in Kentucky announced it will shut down.

Paul wonders what might have been. “I’ve been around politics enough to know there’s a gap between campaign promises and what an elected official can deliver,” he says. “But imagine if, at the beginning of his Administration, Trump had said to Democrats, ‘Let’s work on trade enforcement, let’s do infrastructure,’ instead of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pushing a very partisan exercise on taxes.” He chuckles ruefully. “What a different place we could be in now.”

Trade proponents argue that the steel jobs aren’t coming back, and towns like Coatesville need to adjust to a new economy. In Coatesville, the future may have already arrived in the form of the humble pallet.

“There’s plenty of jobs,” shouts Bill MacCauley, yelling to be heard over the sound of heavy machinery as he strides through his cavernous warehouse. Just across town from the old steel mill, the John Rock Inc. pallet factory is booming. “Our biggest challenge is labor,” says MacCauley, a rangy, easygoing man in blue jeans. In his telling, the pallet, that simple slatted platform, is the unsung hero of the American economy. “Pallets are a better barometer of the economy than anything else,” he contends. “Everything in this country moves on a pallet.”

MacCauley, who grew up on a farm, was working as the plant manager in 1997 when its founder decided to retire. Since taking over the business, he has modernized and expanded it, commissioning efficient new nailing and sawing machines and doubling the warehouse’s footprint. Today MacCauley’s plant nails together 20,000 pallets a day, making it one of the top five pallet-making facilities in the country by his reckoning. The nails are from Korea–they tried American nails, but the quality didn’t pass muster.

Winters are typically busy in the pallet business as the holidays and Super Bowl spur shipping demand. But MacCauley says business has been gangbusters since Trump took office a year ago. Since the passage of corporate tax cuts in December, MacCauley has dramatically increased his capital investments: he has $2 million worth of new machinery scheduled to arrive in the next three months, purchases he says he wouldn’t have made now if not for the legislation.

With unemployment down to 4.1%, companies across the U.S. have had to scramble to find workers, driving wages up and forcing recruiters to get creative. John Rock is no exception. Pay starts at $11 per hour, with full benefits and a 401(k). MacCauley has raised wages by $1 over the past year, in part to compete with landscaping jobs. He estimates that a majority of the plant’s workers are Latino. The job market is so tight that the company has started recruiting women for what has traditionally been men’s work. “Whether you like Trump or not, the fact remains: everybody’s doing better than they were a year ago,” MacCauley says. “We’re probably going to look back at this as one of the biggest booms in our lifetime.”

It’s not quite accurate to attribute all this to the new Administration. Unemployment was plummeting before Trump was elected; in fact, jobs have grown more slowly under Trump than any other year since 2010, and wage growth slowed during his first year. The President boasted in his State of the Union on Jan. 30 about the addition of 200,000 manufacturing jobs, but there are still 1 million fewer Americans working in manufacturing than there were 10 years ago.

Still, to MacCauley, things look better than ever. Foreign trade doesn’t bother him: “When they import goods, they import ’em on a pallet,” he says. Reducing immigration would worsen MacCauley’s hiring crunch–that’s a part of Trump’s agenda he’s not so keen on–but so far Trump’s crackdown hasn’t affected him.

We walk out past MacCauley’s office, where a bikini-girl calendar hangs on one wall and the others are festooned with livestock-show ribbons for the specialty ewes he raises as a hobby. Above a receptionist’s desk is a mug reading I just want to drink coffee and listen to Rush Limbaugh. This plant, powered by global trade and immigrant workers, may not match Trump’s populist vision, and MacCauley, the man with his name on the payroll checks, was never quite forgotten in the global economy. But from where he sits, there are plenty of reasons to be happy with Trump.

The Trump base –that part of the electorate that supports him not reluctantly but ardently–is not the political mainstream: just 22% strongly approved of the President in one recent poll. But Trump’s working-class supporters continue to fascinate and flummox political experts in part because they are stubbornly, heartbreakingly hopeful that he will eventually keep his promises to them.

At Coatesville’s Little Chef Family Restaurant, 64-year-old John Gathercole sits at the lunch counter with a cup of coffee, talking about how Trump will bring back steel jobs. He spent 29 years cutting heavy steel, retiring two years before the plant closed and laid off the remaining workers. Politicians romanticize manual labor, but it was a brutal job: Gathercole believes he could have been killed if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration hadn’t intervened to protect him from illegal emissions. Now he makes pocket money driving Amish workers to and from their factory gigs.

“I’m a big union man. I always will be,” Gathercole says. Solidly built with slicked-back gray hair, he wears a gold chain under his Under Armour shirt. A lifelong Democrat, Gathercole cast his first-ever Republican vote in 2016. “I don’t know how Trump is on unions,” he says. “I liked him because he was change.”

Sentiments are similar 30 miles up the road, in the once vibrant manufacturing hub of Reading. The city’s garment factory is now an outlet mall, and it has one of the highest urban poverty rates in the U.S.. at 39%. At an indoor farmers’ market here, between stalls selling Amish pastries and fresh poultry, locals are yelling at one another about politics.

“Trump is going to revisit NAFTA and take a hard line with China,” insists a voluble man with curly gray hair in a Snap-on tools jacket. Trade, he says, is his No. 1 issue; his wife is a United Automobile Workers union member, and his sons both work at a steel-alloy plant. “They’ve been busy as heck since Trump got in,” says the man, who won’t give his name because he’s afraid he’ll be attacked by Trump critics.

At the other end of the table, a white-mustached man in a black driving cap can’t believe what he’s hearing. Eighty-two-year-old Charlie Fisher doesn’t like the slogan “make America great again,” he says, because he always believed America was great. When Fisher demands that the other man defend the Access Hollywood tape, the Trump supporter brings up Hillary Clinton’s emails. “How about eight years of Obama, the Muslim in Chief, who never made 3% GDP growth?” he hollers. “See, I do my homework. I know what I’m talking about.”(In fact, the economy grew 3% during several quarters under Obama.)

At the next table, Todd Hiester, 61, sits quietly thinking about the past. In 1979, when he was 19, his father got him a job at the Dana auto-parts plant. Hiester apprenticed as a tool and die maker, loved the work, and did it until the company went bankrupt in 2000. The day the factory closed, two men who worked alongside Hiester were so despondent that they shot themselves, he says. Hiester had been pulling in $36 per hour but missed qualifying for a pension by three months. He tried going back to community college for a computer degree, but he never found another job that paid half of what he had once made.

Hiester says he voted for Trump for a host of reasons: because of the need for Judeo-Christian values on the Supreme Court, because he believes undocumented immigrants are living off government benefits, because he didn’t like Clinton and because of trade. He blames the system for Trump’s struggles and holds out hope that change is still coming.

“I think his intentions are good,” says Hiester, a soft-spoken man wearing a dark green fleece. “His heart is very good.” He is sure that Trump is doing his best to fight for the working man, and you have to admit, he says, that the President is not like all those other politicians.

No matter that Trump’s lawyers worry that he will perjure himself if he is interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Forget that the Washington Post has recorded more than 2,000 falsehoods in Trump’s first year alone. “At least,” Hiester says of the President he trusts, “he doesn’t lie.”

This appears in the February 26, 2018 issue of TIME.

Editor’s Comments

It is not surprising that the hard core Trump supporters would believe anything that Trump says.  But let us look at the facts, not the “alternate facts.” What was the reason for the decline of manufacturing in the Midwest and elsewhere in the United States? Greed, of course, is the answer (and who is the party of the rich people? the GOP). How did it all happen from being a manufacturing behemoth to Rust Belt City? First, in order to break up the Unions, (which Republicans hate, if you didn’t already know) CEOs moved their unions from union-rich cities to non-union cities and towns throughout the Midwest and South. Then, as these CEOs got greedier, they asked their Republican counterparts in Congress to make it easier to move their industries overseas. By what means? These are called the Free Trade Agreements. The Trade agreements (like NAFTA and WTO) drafted and written by Republicans made it extremely profitable to offshore their factories where labor is cheaper, there are no benefits for workers, no regulations and, the creme de la creme, the products being brought back into the United States would no longer have to pay an import tax. And voila, the loss of 8 million manufacturing jobs since 1980 and President Reagan. And that is where we are today.

Trump, the off-shorer in chief, has promised the world to our gullible blue collar workers. Trump was very late to the game when he switched from being the “biggest Free Trader in the World” to suddenly being against NAFTA in January 2016. Trump and his daughter still have all their clothing lines made in China. His current “Make America Great Again” hats are made in China. You would think if Trump were genuine that his clothing line and hats would be made here in the USA. It has been over a year and still no mention about moving his factories. Trump has made noise about NAFTA, but NAFTA only effects Canada and Mexico. The giant deal is with China through the WTO (World Trade Organization). Don’t you think it is puzzling that we still give import tax relief to the largest economy in the world – China?

So, if you vote Republican, you are voting for off-shoring American jobs, you are voting against American manufacturing, and you are voting for the rich to get more tax breaks. Here is the message to the manufacturing workers: Wake up. Sure you may have voted for the official worst President of all time (according to 170 Presidential scholars), but you can learn from your mistakes.



Made in USA 2018 Winter Olympic Apparel by Ralph Lauren

After 2012 Controversy, Ralph Lauren Opts for American-Made 2018 Winter Olympics Apparel

Ralph Lauren’s Team USA outfits are as patriotic as they appear.

Jeanne Carver was on her ranch in July 2012, watching her sheep graze as they began their nocturnal migration to their bedding grounds, when she received a call from what she assumed was a yarn store. Instead, Carver, owner of Imperial Stock Ranch in Shaniko, Ore., soon learned that the call came from Ralph Lauren’s product development team in New York.

Sheep at the Imperial Stock Ranch in Oregon being herded. 
Photo by Imperial Stock Ranch

After coming under fire for outsourcing Team USA’s Summer 2012 Olympics apparel in China, Ralph Lauren contracted Carver to begin weaving together a supply chain that would outfit America’s Olympians in Made in America clothing from head to toe, starting with the sheep who provided the wool needed to knit Team USA’s sweaters for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Thus began Ralph Lauren’s mission to source and manufacture every component of its Olympic uniforms in America, a commitment the company has sustained for three Olympic games, including the 2018 Winter Olympics.

This year, Carver again supplied wool for Team’s USA clothing, initiating a supply chain that produced opening and closing ceremony outfits for more than 700 Team USA athletes and staff members at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic competitions in PyeongChang, South Korea.

American manufacturers, ranging from companies in operation for decades to those still establishing themselves in the marketplace, contributed to the production of Ralph Lauren’s collection.

“We did it because it’s not only special to our company, our employees, including the guys on the floor that developed and made this yarn, and the management team, it’s important to the United States of America and to the Olympics. We were just thrilled to have the opportunity.” Jim Chessnut, CEO of National Spinning

During the parade of nations in the opening ceremony, Team USA athletes will wear a parka in red, white and blue made by Better Team USA in Clifton, N.J.; moto-inspired jeans made by ROICOM in El Paso, Texas; a knit vintage-inspired ski sweater made by Ball of Cotton in Commerce, Calif.; a wool ski hat and base layers made by Andari in El Monte, Calif.; and shearling gauntlet gloves made by Echo in New York, N.Y.

The closing ceremony will feature a water-repellant white bomber jacket made by Better Team USA; a wool sweater and mittens made by Andari; navy double-fleece joggers made by Ferrara Manufacturing in New York, N.Y.; and a knit hat made by Ball of Cotton.

For both ceremonies, Team USA athletes will wear brown suede mountaineering boots made by Allen Edmonds in Port Washington, Wis.; a canvas belt with cowhide belt tabs made by Magna Leather in El Paso, Texas; socks made by Renfro Corporation in Cleveland, Tenn., for Hot Sox; embellishments made by Trimworld in New York, N.Y.; and a bracelet handcrafted by Scosha in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ralph Lauren’s patriotically themed outfits may evoke classic Americana, but the uniforms were manufactured using cutting-edge technology.

To combat the gusts of Siberian winds and temperatures as low as 11 degrees Fahrenheit in PyeongChang, Ralph Lauren integrated thin, lightweight heating components that will keep the athletes warm for up to 11 hours into Team USA’s jackets.

This heating technology, developed by DuPont Advanced Materials, is composed of conductive stretchable silver and carbon inks that instantly heat when powered by a battery within the jackets.

The inks were printed onto the jackets’ interiors in the shape of the American flag by family-owned high-precision membrane printer Butler Technologies in Butler, Pa.

“Ralph Lauren has effortlessly woven style and functionality into the opening ceremony uniform for the 2018 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams,” said Lisa Baird, the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) chief marketing officer, in Ralph Lauren’s press release.

Through its Team USA collections, Ralph Lauren has championed America’s athletes and manufacturers and brought the world’s attention to the quality of American production. This support has ensured the survival and success of several of the company’s production partners.

California-based Andari made the opening ceremony hat and closing ceremony sweater and mittens, which were knit using wool from Imperial Stock Ranch in Oregon that was spun and dyed by National Spinning. | Photo by Andari

Wei Wang, who owns and operates Andari alongside his sister, Ilona Wang, came close to shuttering the business his parents founded in 1999 when the recession hit in 2008.

Rather than abandon their U.S. facility, the Wangs adapted their production model to embrace quality over quantity—a switch that caught the attention of Ralph Lauren as its production development team sought manufacturers for the 2014 Olympic games.

Through the media exposure working with Ralph Lauren garnered, the Wangs were able to find more work for their factory.

Currently, Andari employs 130 people, but the Wangs have plans for further expansion.

Carver of Imperial Stock Ranch, who has advocated for the revival of America’s textile industry since 1999, also said that “hundreds of companies and brands” expressed interest in working with Imperial Stock Ranch following her collaboration with Ralph Lauren, which continued beyond the Olympics.

In utilizing supply chains in the United States for their Olympic collections, Ralph Lauren helped form new relationships among manufacturers and reinforce long-standing ones, safeguarding a symbiotic ecosystem of manufacturers and producers.

Carver has fought to protect and cultivate this network as the only means of sustaining the productivity of her ranch’s sheep.

“Without our processing and manufacturing partners, we have nothing … I have a raw material that I can’t get rid of or that has no value anymore, but with them as partners, they can with their expertise bring it to product stage, and we’re all stronger,” Carver said. “We’re stronger as a nation by keeping these connections viable in this country.”

However, producing items for Ralph Lauren’s Team USA collection has also been a labor of love that involved late nights and last-minute revisions to accommodate stringent USOC regulations.

“We did it because it’s not only special to our company, our employees, including the guys on the floor that developed and made this yarn, and the management team, it’s important to the United States of America and to the Olympics. We were just thrilled to have the opportunity,” said Jim Chessnut, CEO of employee-owned National Spinning, which spun and dyed Imperial Stock Ranch’s wool for Ralph Lauren’s knitwear.

Several of Ralph Lauren’s Winter Olympics 2018 production partners feel personally connected to the Olympic mission and have been affiliated with the games outside of their roles as manufacturers.

“Without our processing and manufacturing partners, we have nothing … I have a raw material that I can’t get rid of or that has no value anymore, but with them as partners, they can with their expertise bring it to product stage, and we’re all stronger,” Carver said. “We’re stronger as a nation by keeping these connections viable in this country.” Jeanne Carver, Imperial Stock Ranch

Scosha Woolridge, the designer and owner of Scosha, once trained to compete in the Olympics as a 100-meter hurdler, and Carver has coached the U.S. National Team in Track and Field and served on the U.S. Olympic Development Committee.

Unfortunately, though dozens of manufacturers in America eagerly contributed to this year’s Winter Olympics, when the world watches America’s Olympians collect their medals, they will be clothed in Nike’s Medal Stand Collection, largely manufactured overseas. Similarly, the vast majority of competition uniforms are made in offshore factories.

Ralph Lauren has earned a gold medal for its contributions to the Olympics, but other companies have yet to follow.

The 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony will take place on Friday at 6 a.m. ET, and the Closing Ceremony will take place on Feb. 25 at 6 a.m. ET. The events will be streamed live via NBC’s website and its app, and there will be a primetime television broadcast at 8 p.m. ET.

Polo Ralph Lauren’s Made in America Team USA collection is available for sale online. Royalties from the sales go to the United States Olympic Committee.

Editor’s Comment

One of my first well-received blog entries was six years ago when I wrote that Ralph Lauren was not making the Olympic uniforms in the USA in Ralph Lauren and the Olympic Uniform Controversy. Since that time, Ralph Lauren has been great about avoiding controversy and has made much of their Olympic (Summer or Winter) apparel in the USA. You may want to check out the Polo Ralph Lauren website for the Olympic apparel made in the USA online. They may be expensive, but they are collectors items and are going fast.

Thanks to the blog for the Alliance of American Manufacturing for writing the above article.


Buying American Made Matters Video

Buying American-Made Matters

from the Alliance of American Manufacturers December 27, 2017


May 2018
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