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.”
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 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 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact 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.