CORE Molding Technologies has taken an uncommon approach to fixing its workforce shortage: educating and working with U.S. legislators to change national immigration policy, while using all available immigration tools to bring in skilled workers.
Got labor challenges? The Columbus, Ohio–based large-format compression-molding maker has increased its entry-level production wages by up to 30% and offered additional incentives, such as sign-on, attendance and referral bonuses. Yet, even with these efforts, CORE saw only a marginal improvement, according to Executive Vice President of Operations Eric Palomaki.
A willing population: Thanks to its presence across North America, CORE has a unique perspective on immigration and workforce availability. The company employs nearly 1,800 people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico and says it is far easier to find people in Canada and Mexico who are not only willing but excited to work in manufacturing.
- “Our country’s population is shrinking,” Palomaki said. “Immigration is one way to fix [the labor shortage]. We follow the NAM’s policy … there’s no reason for it to be this difficult for good people—who are not looking to come and be a drain on government resources, but rather are looking for good, stable employment and to become citizens.”
But there’s a problem: The U.S. immigration system lacks a comprehensive, easily navigable process for getting hourly wage earners to the states for approved employment.
- “There are no options available for the hourly manufacturing workforce from an immigration perspective,” said Human Resources Executive Vice President Renee Anderson.
Success stories: For several years, CORE has sponsored non-U.S.-born salaried employees in applying for and obtaining working visas (and ultimately permanent residency)—and the company has been hugely successful in these efforts.
- “It creates an incredibly loyal workforce. When you go down this path, it changes the lives of individuals and families,” Anderson said.
- The tales of triumph are many: One employee, currently an engineering and materials manager in Ohio, began on the shop floor in Mexico, and after several promotions through the years, came to the U.S. on an L visa. Another individual, a senior engineer in Ohio, was trained and mentored in Mexico and also came to the U.S. on an L visa.
- Both now have green cards and have established their homes in the U.S. with their families, thanks to sponsorship by CORE Molding Technologies.
Pushing for policy: The company’s leadership is actively educating and engaging congressional members in Ohio and Minnesota, two states where it has facilities, to advocate for immigration-policy changes.
- Ideally, the company says, the system that is in place for salaried employees would be expanded to hourly production workers to provide them with a better path to citizenship.
The last word: “We want to invest in people,” said Palomaki. “We have a great place to work.”
Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the midterm elections, the National Association of Manufacturers released its policy roadmap, “Competing to Win,” a comprehensive blueprint featuring immediate solutions for bolstering manufacturers’ competitiveness. It is also a roadmap for policymakers on the laws and regulations needed to strengthen the manufacturing industry in the months and years ahead.
With the country facing rising prices, snarled supply chains and geopolitical turmoil, manufacturers are outlining an actionable competitiveness agenda that Americans across the political spectrum can support. “Competing to Win” includes the policies manufacturers in America will need in place to continue driving the country forward.
“‘Competing to Win’ offers a path for bringing our country together around policies, shared values and a unified purpose,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The NAM is putting forward a plan filled with ideas that policymakers could pursue immediately, including solutions to urgent problems, such as energy security, immigration reform, supply chain disruptions, the ongoing workforce shortage and more. Manufacturers have shown incredible resilience through difficult times, employing more workers now than before the pandemic, but continued resilience is not guaranteed without the policies that are critical to the state of manufacturing in America.”
The NAM and its members will leverage “Competing to Win” to shape policy debates ahead of the midterm elections, in the remainder of the 117th Congress and at the start of the 118th Congress—including in direct engagement with lawmakers, for grassroots activity, across traditional and digital media and through events in key states and districts as we did following the initial rollout of the roadmap in 2016.
The document focuses on 12 areas of action, and all policies are rooted in the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.
Learn more about how manufacturers are leading and about the industry’s competitiveness agenda at nam.org/competing-to-win.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.8 million men and women, contributes $2.77 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org