Labor & Employment

To keep manufacturing an engine of the economy, we need labor policies that support flexibility and innovation.

Workforce

CEO Gina Radke Talks Female Leadership—and Restroom Lines

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Who says longer lines for the women’s restroom are a good thing? Manufacturing CEO Gina Radke does. And here’s why—longer lines for the bathroom at manufacturing conferences would mean that more women worked in the industry, where they now only make up a third of the labor force.

Radke used to take photos of the bathroom doors at these conferences and post them to social media, highlighting the absence of other women in line. And if she has anything to say about it, those lines will be growing a lot longer.

The CEO of Galley Support Innovations, Radke likes to say that she got into manufacturing by mistake, and then learned it from the ground up.

  • When she and her husband bought the company—which specializes in interior hardware for aircraft—she thought she’d focus on the marketing side. But as she puts it, she fell in love with the process of turning raw materials into a finished product.
  • They moved the company from California to Arkansas, and soon, she had learned to run all the machines on the floor and immersed herself in every aspect of the business.

Along the way, she couldn’t help but notice that few other women had the same trajectory. Radke was often mistaken for an assistant and rarely encountered other women in leadership positions. She was determined to change that.

  • “If you can see it, you can be it”: Radke has worked to make herself more visible in the manufacturing world, as a role model for other women. The company even designed a calendar in which their female machinists posed as Rosie the Riveter.
  • STEP honoree: In 2019, she was a recipient of the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards—a national honor for accomplished women in the industry. Radke says the conference for honorees was the first time she had been around other women leaders in the industry. It made her feel a sense of relief and encouragement, and she resolved to step up her mentorship so more women would feel the same.
  • “I could write a book”: Inspired by her experience at the STEP conference, Radke wrote a book called “More Than.” In it, she offers guidance to both women and men, so they can achieve a more equitable workforce together.

And there’s more: Under Radke’s leadership, the company has been a pioneer in hiring formerly incarcerated individuals and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. It also created programs to train kids who age out of foster care, helping them transition into well-paying jobs.

The last word: “To women who haven’t considered manufacturing: consider it,” says Radke. “It’s a great field to be in. We need everything, so you get to be creative and process driven. And you have an opportunity to break stereotypes and shatter the status quo.”

Press Releases

NAM Launches ‘Wear a Face Covering’ Ad Campaign

Let’s Get America Back to Work and Our Economy Roaring Again

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Association of Manufacturers launched “Wear a Face Covering,” an ad campaign designed to keep our economy growing and protect American families. It illustrates that face coverings are essential to safeguarding jobs and reopening businesses. The campaign will run in key manufacturing states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and others. Upon release of the ad, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons made this statement:

“There is no way to sugarcoat this—we need to get America back to work now and get our economy roaring again. The virus is spreading in a significant way, and if it continues, that will lead to economic devastation the likes of which we have never seen before. If everyone wears a mask outside the home, maintains social distancing with anyone other than the family unit and practices appropriate hygiene procedures, we will get the tens of millions of unemployed Americans back to work. If large groups of people refuse to wear masks, they are condemning their fellow citizens to long-term unemployment and our economy to disaster.

“There are no excuses left. While we have learned more and more about this deadly virus, the guidance from our nation’s health care experts has evolved. Today, we know that the best and most certain way to stop the spread is for everyone to wear a facial covering. It isn’t fun. It isn’t pleasant. But through shared responsibility, we can get this pandemic under control and save small businesses and jobs. That’s why the NAM is taking this message across the country. Our economy depends on it, jobs depend on it and—most importantly—lives depend on it.

“The Golden Rule tells us that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Covering our faces in public is a simple but powerful expression of the Golden Rule, and so much more than a mere gesture.”

-NAM-

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 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

Manufacturers Praise SCOTUS Decision on LGBT Worker Rights

Timmons: “Ultimately, we know that diversity and inclusion makes our workplaces stronger, just as it makes our country stronger.”

Washington, D.C. – Following the momentous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons made this statement:

“This ruling, one of the most consequential since Obergefell, not only sends a powerful message of inclusion and equality to millions of Americans but also affirms that LGBT Americans cannot be fired just for being their authentic selves at work.

“Too many LGBT Americans go to work every day hiding who they are or whom they love because they believe that simply living authentically would mean losing their jobs and livelihoods. The Supreme Court has begun to lift that heavy emotional burden and made history by affirming that LGBT workers are entitled to federal protections, too.

“For our part, manufacturers are committed to building diverse and inclusive workplaces, a mission that has taken on renewed importance in recent weeks. We will continue to be advocates for equal opportunity and champions for justice—because ultimately, we know that diversity and inclusion makes our workplaces stronger, just as it makes our country stronger.”

-NAM-

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 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

NAM Executive Committee Passes Resolution to Support All People Who Face Injustice

Manufacturing Leaders Take Action to Advance Justice, Equality and Opportunity for Underrepresented Communities and Across Sector

Washington, D.C. – In the wake of the May 25 murder of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Executive Committee unanimously voted to pass the Pledge for Action, an 11-point commitment plan for manufacturers to advance justice, equality and opportunity for black people and all people of color.

“My heart is heavy with recent events,” said Michael W. Lamach, chairman and CEO of Trane Technologies and chair of the NAM Board of Directors. “While the killing of George Floyd sparked this outcry, this is a crisis that has gone unaddressed for far too long. We introduced this Pledge for Action to demonstrate our companies’, our association’s and our industry’s commitment to being part of the solution and to stand against injustice and create a better future for the black community and all communities of color.”

Around the country and throughout the world, George Floyd’s death has spurred protest and action, highlighting the inescapable inequities that are too often downplayed and brushed aside by those with the power to make a difference.

Merck Chairman and CEO Ken Frazier addressed the June 11 Executive Committee meeting. He noted that, “Opportunity and equality have the power to change the course of not only an individual’s life, but of history. Through education, I was given the chance to overcome the opportunity gap that exists in this country, and I believe that this pledge, if taken to heart by the NAM members, can do the same for thousands of Americans and in particular African Americans.”

The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the NAM, will continue to support manufacturers’ efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace and to deliver on these new commitments. The MI, via its Diversity and Inclusion Pillar, will be deploying tools, resources and knowledge to help manufacturers put actions to their words and build more inclusive workplaces.

“This is a difficult time for our country, and manufacturers all have a role to be part of the solution—in our homes, in our companies and in our local communities,” said Chuck Wetherington, BTE Technologies president, NAM Executive Committee member and Small and Medium Manufacturers Group chair. “Our businesses are the hearts and souls of the communities where we live, and we have a responsibility to act. With this pledge, we are making a commitment to do what is right and urgently needed.”

As leaders who represent manufacturers in the United States, the NAM recognizes the integral role our industry has historically played in lifting up people and communities, and the opportunity and obligation we have now to stand with and support all people who face injustice.

“Manufacturers will do our part. All of us must recognize the systemic inequality and racism that black people in America face—and the role we must play in ending it. This industry is committed to delivering the change our nation needs,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

Highlights from the Pledge for Action include the following:

  • We will strengthen our workplaces as spaces where black people and all people of color will be heard, respected and celebrated.
  • We will work to improve and increase representation of black people and all people of color at all levels of our companies and organizations—entry level, midlevel and senior level.
  • We will expand education, training and scholarship opportunities in the manufacturing industry for black people and all people of color.
  • We will remove barriers and open doors to modern manufacturing careers for those inside prisons and for those reentering society.
  • We will encourage increased minority participation in democracy through voting, advocacy and other opportunities for influence.
  • We will diversify the supply chain by providing equal opportunity for black-owned and minority-owned enterprises to do business with us.

To read the full Pledge for Action, visit nam.org/pledgeforaction.

-NAM-

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 11.7 million men and women, contributes $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

Press Releases

NAM Survey: Manufacturers Face Major Headwinds, but Continue Operating in Support of COVID-19 Response

Despite Drop in Optimism and Worsening Business Conditions, Majority of Industry Keeping Doors Open

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers today released the results of the Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2020 showing that despite a historic drop in optimism, to nearly 34%, and challenging business conditions, the vast majority of manufacturers (98.7%) have continued or only temporarily halted operations. The survey also shows that manufacturers are innovating to find solutions to keep businesses running and to protect workers and communities, with almost 22% retooling to produce personal protective equipment, 67% reengineering processes to reflect COVID-19 safety protocols and 12% completely reevaluating the mission of the firm.

Manufacturers have led the country through the COVID-19 response, and America is counting on our industry to lead our recovery and renewal, said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. While these numbers show that we’ve faced difficult circumstances and that there is a challenging road ahead, manufacturers have proven that with our grit, determination and patriotic spirit, we can overcome any challenge facing the nation. And in our ‘American Renewal Action Plan,’ the NAM has shown the way forward.

As policymakers and regulators debate solutions to help the economy recover from this pandemic, the NAM urges them to focus on the renewal agenda laid out in the “American Renewal Action Plan.” We have been encouraged by actions taken thus far, but there is still greater need for targeted liability reform, tax provisions to ensure investment in manufacturing and measures to reaffirm the U.S. supply chain to protect those businesses that continue to work on the front lines of the COVID-19 response to ensure as swift a recovery as possible.

The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey has surveyed the association’s membership of 14,000 large and small manufacturers on a quarterly basis since 1997 to gain insight into their economic outlook, hiring and investment decisions and business concerns. The NAM releases the results to the public each quarter. Further information on the survey is available here.

-NAM-

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 11.5 million men and women, contributes $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters 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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

Manufacturers Release “American Renewal Action Plan”

Timmons: The Nation Is Counting on Manufacturers

Washington, D.C. – To strengthen the nation’s response to COVID-19 and ensure manufacturers are poised to lead the recovery and renewal of the American economy, the National Association of Manufacturers released the “American Renewal Action Plan.”

“Our industry has been on the front lines throughout this crisis, providing the equipment and products to keep our country safe, healthy and fed. The nation is counting on us to continue to play a leading role in this effort, and lawmakers must equip us with the tools we need,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. Timmons, a member of the White House’s COVID-19 Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, added, “The NAM’s ‘American Renewal Action Plan’ is the path forward.”

The recommendations are outlined in three phases—response, recovery and renewal. Some of the key provisions include the following:

  • Response:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to allow manufacturers to further ramp up production and enhance distribution of personal protective equipment to support not only our hospitals, but all sectors of the economy.
  • Recovery:
    • Congressional and administrative actions to ensure that employees are able to go into work confident that proper health precautions are being implemented.
    • Strong and clear legal reforms that protect the essential manufacturers that must remain open to provide vital goods and those that retool their factories to make urgently needed equipment and supplies.
  • Renewal:
    • Significant investment in workforce training programs to aid dislocated workers.
    • Historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure to boost the economy.
    • Key reforms to boost economic and national security by growing the U.S. manufacturing industry.
    • Congressional and administrative actions to expand U.S. exports and strengthen the manufacturing supply chain.
    • The Treasury Department, Small Business Administration and Federal Reserve should speed the delivery of aid to small businesses by addressing key issues related to their new lending facilities.

The NAM released its “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations” on March 9 to guide the government’s initial response to the pandemic. The association released an updated and expanded action plan on March 18. Congress and the administration have already adopted many of the proposals.

-NAM-

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 $2.37 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% 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 Manufacturers or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Business Operations

Small Manufacturer Leverages Tax Reform to Weather Tough Times

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Rex Heat Treat, a commercial heat treatment company serving industries from aerospace and transportation to construction and defense, is tapping its tax reform benefits to support its workers, strengthen its business and invest in its future. A family-owned company since 1938 with facilities in Lansdale and Bedford, Pennsylvania, and Anniston, Alabama, Rex Heat Treat has been able to keep employees on board and purchase critical new equipment, even in challenging times.

“Without the benefit of tax reform, we might not be sitting in as good of a situation as we are,” said Rex Heat Treat General Manager Johnathan Rex. “We’d be a lot leaner in our bank account, possibly needing to draw on a line of credit to make payroll otherwise. As we weather the effects of COVID-19, these benefits will help us. Our business has more time to maintain our critical infrastructure workforce should this current situation continue on.”

In particular, the manufacturer has been able to use “full expensing,” which allows businesses to take a tax deduction for the cost of new equipment in the year it is bought, rather than taking smaller tax deductions over several years. This reduces the cost of buying capital equipment and accelerates depreciation deductions for manufacturers and business owners, which decreases the company’s tax bill in the year of purchase and frees up cash for that purchase. For a capital-intensive industry like manufacturing, where the latest technology is key to production, this kind of support can be vital, especially among smaller manufacturers with tighter margins.

“Full expensing allows us not just to accelerate the last investment we made but to accelerate the next one—because it’s cash in hand,” said Rex. “We want to do this as quickly as possible, but you can also run your business into the ground if you invest too quickly. Allowing a company to aggressively invest in itself and maintain some cash is a big help.”

As manufacturers around the globe deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19, tax reform has helped give small businesses the resources to protect their employees and their customers.

“Tax policies that allow manufacturers to keep and invest more of their earnings are critically important in uncertain times,” said National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Chris Netram. “As we respond to today’s challenges and prepare for the future, building upon pro-growth policies like these can help support workers, businesses and communities nationwide.”

Business Operations

Manufacturer Cleans Medical Facilities’ Air During COVID-19

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Overwhelmed medical facilities are expanding and placing urgent orders for HVAC systems, putting AAON, Inc., a commercial heating and cooling equipment manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

On March 29, AAON President and Director Gary Fields received a phone call from one of their sales partners in New York City regarding the need for a new temporary hospital.

“The city was a hotspot for coronavirus. Its permanent care facilities were overwhelmed,” said Fields. “City officials wanted to know what AAON could do to get a temporary space up by April 18. A total of three weeks.”

The temporary medical facility would need heating and cooling units with HEPA filtration systems, which are required in most medical facilities to ensure that recirculated air is clean. That meant standard “off-the-shelf” products wouldn’t work. AAON’s existing inventory also would not fit the bill. The facility needed something big enough to serve large spaces with only a few connections and small enough so the units could be unloaded and positioned using a traditional crane. So AAON sprang into action to design and manufacture the right products.

By the following evening, the project had begun to take shape. The temporary medical facility would involve a total of five tents, requiring 2,200 tons of air conditioning equipment with HEPA capabilities. On March 31 at 5:30 p.m., AAON received the official order. By the next morning at 6:00 a.m., the first of 44 identical 50-ton units began moving down the production line.

AAON team members worked around the clock to complete the order. Three days later, they completed the 44th and final unit, and by April 6, the units had all been delivered—well ahead of schedule.

In addition, AAON has been simultaneously producing other COVID-19 emergency supplies. The State University of New York College at Old Westbury requested 36 similar HVAC units to serve as an additional temporary medical site, and the manufacturer is currently filling orders for facilities in Cranston, Rhode Island, and Denver, Colorado, as well. AAON also recently sent five prototype UV light cabinets to a Springfield, Missouri, hospital, which plans to use them to disinfect masks and other materials.

“AAON was pleased to participate in the effort for this urgent shipment,” said Stephanie Cameron, Community Relations Administrator at AAON, who is also a member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Board of Advisors and a 2015 STEP Ahead Awards Honoree. “As an essential manufacturer of HVAC systems, we are doing all we can for our customers that have AAON equipment on critical infrastructure, and those customers that need new equipment or parts for critical infrastructure.”

Manufacturers around the country are stepping up to help their communities during this pandemic.

“In tough times, the men and women who make things in America can always be counted on to lead the fight,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Today, manufacturers are delivering on that promise and working to keep America healthy and strong.”

Business Operations

Manufacturer Bears Down on COVID-19

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Photo courtesy of Ketchie Inc. and Mazak

Ketchie, Inc., a woman-owned, North Carolina-based manufacturer with 26 employees, has been supplying a mounted ball bearing product line to distributors since 1975. Now it is a critical part of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of Ketchie’s bearing products go through a network of industrial distributors that supply hospitals across the United States. One customer in California creates cooling towers, most of which serve medical and health care facilities. Another manufacturer’s housed rubber bearing units supplied by Ketchie will be going into blower units circulating fresh air into New York City hospitals, where the COVID-19 outbreak has been particularly widespread.

As governors around the country consider whether to shutter workplaces or declare them essential, Ketchie, Inc. President Courtney Silver argues that manufacturers at all levels are doing indispensable work.

“It’s all interconnected,” said Silver. “It takes all the big corporations and all these smaller businesses across the country to make it all work.”

Beyond its own need to keep running in order to supply hospitals and other critical infrastructure such as water and sewage plants and power companies, which all experience more stress during a pandemic, Silver emphasized how various components of the supply chain are vital to her manufacturing operation.

“We rely on foundries for castings, because I have to machine that casting to make that bearing housing, and then I rely on bearing manufacturers to make my inserts, and then I assemble and ship it out,” said Silver. “Even the little grease fitting that I would screw into the top of the bearing housing—I need my fastener distributor open and shipping me grease fittings. They seem like the littlest things, but we all have to support each other and continue to work through this time together.”

Ketchie is already following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including ensuring that all employees are working at least six feet apart and frequently sanitizing high-touch areas. As government officials consider whether facilities like hers should continue to operate, Silver hopes to continue doing her part for the COVID-19 response.

“Every small business is in a cash crunch,” said Silver. “I’m confident we can get through this. We’re trying our best to remain positive and take the time to see what we’re learning so we can come out even stronger.”

“We are facing an extraordinary challenge, and America’s manufacturers are helping to lead the charge,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Across the country, manufacturing heroes are supporting our infrastructure, strengthening our health care systems and creating the innovations that will save lives. As we have throughout history, in this time of crisis, manufacturers are answering the call.”

Business Operations

CARES Act Offers Support for Manufacturers Affected by COVID-19

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On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. National Association of Manufacturers Director of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy Charles Crain explains its significance.

What is the CARES Act? 

The CARES Act is essentially a rescue vehicle for the economy. It’s not a long-term stimulus package, but rather a short-term emergency spending package to provide a specific injection of funds right now.

We’re facing a dramatic economic slowdown. Businesses don’t have the capital they need to operate because there’s not a lot of commerce going on. People are staying safe, staying inside and spending less money than they ordinarily would, and that has an impact on the economy generally and businesses specifically. The CARES Act is designed to provide capital for businesses and capital for families to weather the crisis.

How does the CARES Act help?

It does a number of different things. Because of the NAM’s leadership and advocacy, the CARES Act includes many of manufacturers’ priorities—priorities we first outlined in the NAM’s “COVID-19 Policy Action Plan Recommendations.”

First, the CARES Act offers almost $350 billion in loans to small businesses. The Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program provides loans up to $10 million, and as long as the loans are used to keep employees on payroll or on certain overhead costs like rent, mortgage interest or utilities, that loan will be forgiven.

Second, the CARES Act helps companies keep their employees, both through the PPP and through the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which allows eligible businesses that don’t use the PPP for payroll to claim a tax credit.

Third, the CARES Act allows for businesses to defer employer payroll taxes from March 27 until the end of this year, with half of it due at the end of 2021 and the other half at the end of 2022.

Fourth, it temporarily increases allowable interest deductions from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020, helping to provide critical liquidity for businesses.

Fifth, it sends money directly to American families in the form of relief checks up to $1,200 per qualifying individual and up to $500 per child, which helps employees and business owners alike.

How can manufacturers access the programs they need?

There’s a wide range of agencies involved in this effort and many are operating on different timelines. The Paycheck Protection Program, for example, has already begun—eligible businesses can now apply for loans directly with their local lender. For our members, the NAM provides important deadlines and points of access, as we have done with information about loans and tax provisions so far.

Where can manufacturers get more information?

The NAM regularly updates COVID-19 resources for manufacturers. Helpful links for small businesses are also available.

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