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SEC Reverses on Proxy Firm Rule

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has made an about-face on commonsense investor protections it adopted last year to provide appropriate oversight of so-called proxy advisory firms—and the NAM is pushing back.

The background: Last year, the NAM won a major victory when the SEC published a new rule to regulate proxy firms, which have significant influence over public company governance decisions and the performance of shareholders’ investments. Now under new leadership, the SEC has so far refused to enforce the rule—and yesterday, the commission issued a new proposal that would wipe out important progress.

What it means: The rule secured by the NAM ensured that investors would have access to more complete and accurate information before casting proxy votes. The SEC’s new proposal would reverse the rule’s requirements that proxy firms engage with public companies—specifically rescinding the provisions mandating that the firms provide copies of their recommendations to impacted businesses and notify investors when those businesses file a response. The new proposal also weakens the SEC’s anti-fraud standards for materially misleading statements published by proxy firms.

A deeper dive: Beyond the rule itself, the action points to larger problems at the SEC.

  • Politics over policy: By reversing a rule that had been developed over the course of a decade through leadership from both political parties and with significant input from all sectors, the SEC is undercutting the capital markets’ need for a steady, apolitical regulator.
  • Not the first time: Even before yesterday’s rule change, the SEC had unlawfully refused to enforce the existing proxy firm rule. The NAM filed suit last month to force the SEC to abide by laws on the books.
  • Arbitrary changes: The 2020 rule was set to take effect on Dec. 1 of this year, so the SEC had no new information about its impact on the market when it voted to reverse course—raising serious questions about the commission’s compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition on “arbitrary and capricious” rulemaking.

Next steps: The NAM is challenging the SEC’s nonenforcement of the 2020 rule in court, and we will continue to hold the SEC’s feet to the fire. We will also engage with the SEC on its new proposal and will push back on the commission’s attempts to remove these critical investor protections.

What we’re saying: NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse released a statement on the SEC’s about-face: “The NAM is extremely concerned that the SEC has proposed substantial revisions to last year’s reasonable, light-touch proxy advisory firm rule—especially absent any new information about its impact on the market. Businesses and investors need reliable rules of the road, and the NAM is disappointed that the SEC plans to reverse course on a decade’s worth of bipartisan, consensus-driven policymaking just a year after the rule’s reforms were finalized. The SEC’s about-face is deeply troubling, but manufacturers continue to support appropriate oversight of proxy firms given their conflicts of interest, errors and outsized influence. The NAM looks forward to engaging with the SEC to defend the rule’s commonsense investor protections in the coming months.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers on Kigali: We Can Tackle Climate Change While Strengthening Our Global Competitiveness

Washington, D.C. – Following President Biden’s sending of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for ratification by the Senate, the National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones released the below statement:

“Manufacturers thank President Biden for submitting the Kigali Amendment to the Senate and urge bipartisan support for ratification. We can tackle climate change while strengthening our global competitiveness as we transition to next-generation technologies.

“By joining the more than 125 countries that have already ratified the Amendment, we have set ourselves on a path to create up to 150,000 jobs in the United States and aid in the reduction of billions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere. We urge policymakers to support Kigali ratification and prove that smart policy can be a win for the economy and the environment.”

-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 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.5 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector 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.

 

Workforce

‘Manufacturing Opportunity Awaits’: Creators Wanted Arrives in Charlotte

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It’s more than just the name of an educational tour. It’s an urgent message, too: Creators are indeed wanted and in great numbers.

That was the theme of the kickoff event of the Charlotte, North Carolina, Creators Wanted Tour Live stop, which took place Tuesday amid a packed crowd of students, community and education leaders at Central Piedmont Community College—North Carolina’s largest community college.

Perfect timing: The Creators Wanted campaign, a joint project of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, seeks to inspire, educate and empower the workforce of tomorrow. And manufacturing sorely needs more members for that workforce, said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee.

  • “This is part of a campaign that could truly not come at a more important time for the manufacturing industry and for emerging workers across the United States,” Lee told the audience of students from nearby West Mecklenburg High School and Anson High School, adding that there are nearly 900,000 job openings in manufacturing.

Getting ready and providing access: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, joining the premier event via video, told the audience, “With our community-college training and with partnerships with high schools, colleges and universities across the state, we’re getting North Carolinians ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow…. Manufacturing opportunity awaits.”

  • North Carolina boasts the fifth-largest manufacturing economy in the country, Gov. Cooper noted.
  • “When we can partner with initiatives such as Creators Wanted, we see it as another channel through which we can provide access to anyone who wants to pursue a path to greater opportunity and economic mobility,” said Community College Chief Academic Officer Heather Hill.

“Best and brightest”: Creators Wanted Legacy Sponsor Trane Technologies is actively hiring manufacturers, said Trane Technologies Executive Chair and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach.

  • Trane Technologies wants “to boldly challenge what’s possible for a sustainable world,” Lamach said. “To do that, we need the best. We need the brightest. We need diverse thinkers. We need creators, and we need you. Our doors are open to everyone.”

Lamach, a driving force and leader behind the Creators Wanted movement, praised how the campaign pulls students “into the many different possibilities in manufacturing” and emphasized to students from West Mecklenburg and Anson high schools: “You really do hold our future in your hands.” Watch highlights from Lamach’s remarks here.

Preparing for life: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston underscored the need for students to be prepared for whatever comes next, be it higher education or the workforce.

  • “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools … continues to look for ways to partner with innovative education partners and manufacturers to provide our students with experiences that will prepare them for careers,” Winston said. “Our highest priority is preparing students for life once they leave our schools for college or careers.”

“What manufacturing is all about”: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons urged event attendees to think big about manufacturing and the possibilities before them.

  • “I have no idea what the next great invention is that’s going to completely change the world, but what if you were the person who did that?” Timmons asked the audience. You can do that. That’s what manufacturing is all about.”

Related: WSOC TV was one of the news stations in attendance and filed this report, where student Janita Willoughby put the impact of touring the mobile experience this way: “I didn’t know what manufacturing was … [The experience] was fun … It makes me consider this as a job because you can make a lot of money, and you’re doing stuff you like.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers: SEC’s About-Face Is Deeply Troubling

Washington, D.C. – Following the announcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it intends to rescind commonsense investor protections designed to provide oversight of so-called proxy advisory firms—little-known, unregulated entities that exert enormous influence over publicly traded manufacturers—National Association of Manufacturers Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse released the following statement:

“The NAM is extremely concerned that the SEC has proposed substantial revisions to last year’s reasonable, light-touch proxy advisory firm rule—especially absent any new information about its impact on the market. Businesses and investors need reliable rules of the road, and the NAM is disappointed that the SEC plans to reverse course on a decade’s worth of bipartisan, consensus-driven policymaking just a year after the rule’s reforms were finalized. The SEC’s about-face is deeply troubling, but manufacturers continue to support appropriate oversight of proxy firms given their conflicts of interest, errors and outsized influence. The NAM looks forward to engaging with the SEC to defend the rule’s commonsense investor protections in the coming months.”

-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 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.52 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector 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.

Workforce

Interactive Experience Meets Job Coaching: Creators Wanted in Iowa

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Part hands-on science and technology experience, part TED Talk, part career coaching—that might be the best way to describe the Pella, Iowa, stop of Creators Wanted Tour Live, which wrapped last week.

Pella was the third stop on the mobile experience’s expedition around the country, following Columbus, Ohio, and West Columbia, South Carolina. The objective of Creators Wanted, a brainchild of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, is to inspire, educate and empower the next generation of manufacturers. It aims to help fill the more than 4 million open positions expected in the industry between now and 2030, a number forecast by Deloitte and the MI.

A rewarding field: Manufacturing “is a field that has always rewarded technical skills, hard work and an innovative imagination that refuses to settle for business as usual,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who spoke at the tour stop’s kickoff event, told the audience of local high school students, teachers and media members. “Too many young people simply don’t know about” the many opportunities in manufacturing, she pointed out.

Much to see and do: The events of the three-day stop included:

  • Speeches from Gov. Reynolds, MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee, Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Jason Andringa (the host of the Pella tour stop), Pella Corporation President and CEO Tim Yaggi and Iowa Association of Business and Industry President Mike Ralston;
  • Mobile experience tours, where attendees got to solve escape room–like challenges and manufacturing-related puzzles;
  • A panel with representatives from Vermeer Corporation and Pella Corporation who highlighted the exciting, well-paying jobs available in manufacturing;
  • A softball toss/window-strength test in which participants threw balls at a window made by Pella Corporation; and
  • Manufacturing demonstrations and other hands-on opportunities for visiting local middle- and high-school students.

‘Making our world a better place’: “You’re going to see for yourself how manufacturers like Vermeer Corporation, Pella Corporation and thousands of others across the country are making our world a better place,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons told the crowd at the premier Pella event. “We’re here at Pella today because…we want you to be a part of the manufacturing workforce.”

Impact: The tour stop reached more than 500 students and generated approximately 25,000 email sign-ups.

Some of the fun: Photos and videos from the three days show some of the educational and entertaining activities on offer:

A Pella Middle School student tours the mobile experience at Vermeer Corporation.

A Pella student puts on a welding mask at the Vermeer Corporation welding station.

Pella-area high-school students pose in front of the mobile experience with Timmons, Gov. Reynolds, Lee and Ralston.

A Pella student tries out the Pella softball toss.

The response: Excited messages from tour stop sponsor Vermeer Corporation, journalists including Fox News broadcaster Connell McShane and business associations such as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry filled the Twitterverse last week in response to the mobile experience and its message.

The last word: Andringa underscored the readiness of his company to take on new creators. He said, “Vermeer has been proud to help generate and develop the next generation of the workforce we need for manufacturing.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers: Now That This Historic Bill Has Become Law, We Can Build a Future Worthy of the Next Generation

Washington, D.C. – Following President Biden’s signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons and Trane Technologies Executive Chair and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach released the below statements:

“Now that this historic bill has become law, we can build a future worthy of the next generation,” said Timmons. “For manufacturers, this is a victory years in the making. In 2016, the NAM released our ‘Building to Win’ plan, which called for exactly this type of bold infrastructure investment. It has guided our advocacy with administrations and legislators of both parties, and the leadership of President Biden and senators from both parties produced a bill that achieved many of our ‘Building to Win’ goals without raising tax rates on manufacturers. And this bipartisan approach can be a model for future legislation—one that puts policy above politics, personality or process.”

“As chair of the National Association of Manufacturers, I’m honored to be at today’s signing and pleased to have been part of this historic, bipartisan process to build a safer, stronger infrastructure,” said Lamach. “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a critical investment in our nation’s economic recovery and in the future of manufacturing. Funding for critical transportation, broadband, water and energy systems will strengthen supply chains, protect the environment and enable opportunity for people across our country.”

To see key provisions championed by the NAM in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, click 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 12.5 million men and women, contributes $2.5 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector 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.

Business Operations

This Is What Port Congestion Looks Like

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Ports in the United States have been facing serious congestion issues for almost a year, even as manufacturers work tirelessly to ensure essential products can get where they need to go. NAM Director of Photography David Bohrer recently paid a visit to the Port of Long Beach, where an influx of exports coming to the United States is causing traffic jams along the California coast.

Long Beach is one of the country’s busiest ports at the best of times, since it receives much of the trade traffic from Asia. Today, it’s mobbed by ships waiting for their turn to unload. Under normal circumstances no more than one or two ships would be temporarily anchored while awaiting a spot at the port terminals. But as of late October, that number peaked at more than 70 ships holding offshore. Just look at these lines:

Meanwhile, the port is full of shipping containers waiting to be hauled away and emptied. However, there aren’t enough workers, specialized truck chassis, or available truck drivers to handle the volume of containers:

Here is one container in transit. But once it’s unloaded, the empty container has to be stored as well—and current parking and warehousing space isn’t sufficient for the many empty containers at the port.

Recently, the Biden Administration announced an initial plan to help strengthen supply chains and reduce these blockages. Actions include extending hours of operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and addressing workforce shortages and negotiated shipping agreements.

  • Additionally, on November 9, the White House announced details of a new Action Plan to quickly distribute newly available port funds in an effort to clear backlogs. This plan creates new flexibility in how some ports can use federal dollars to meet on-the-ground needs and sets bold new deadlines for releasing funds—including the authorization of nearly $240 million in grant funding before the end of the year.

The NAM says: “Manufacturers in America have been tirelessly working to maintain operations and provide essential products and jobs to their communities throughout the pandemic. These port backups and supply chain delays aren’t some distant, downstream issue—NAM members are facing historically high shipping costs and unheard-of delivery delays on an hourly and daily basis. We will continue to engage with policymakers to identify short-term solutions and establish long-term measures that allow for economic growth and a functional, inclusive and efficient supply chain,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure Policy Ben Siegrist.

Workforce

‘A Heck of a Lot of Fun’: Creators Wanted Kicks Off Pella Stop

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The city of Pella, Iowa, hosted a panel of distinguished Hawkeye State leaders on Tuesday who encouraged students to join the manufacturing industry and welcomed the Creators Wanted Tour Live on its third tour stop.

Having arrived in Iowa on Monday, the mobile experience, which is part of the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute’s comprehensive “Creators Wanted” workforce campaign, has been a main attraction this week. More than 400 students from multiple nearby schools, as well as local business and political leaders and the media, have attended in just its first two days of activation. The campaign’s aim: to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and help fill the 900,000-plus open manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

The largest sector in Iowa: Creators Wanted “is truly a unique opportunity for our young people to be introduced to the many exciting careers in manufacturing,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds told the audience at the Pella kickoff event Tuesday morning. “As governor, it’s encouraging for me to see so many students turn out for manufacturing, which is the largest sector in our economy.”

  • Iowa boasts the third-highest concentration of manufacturing workers in the U.S., Gov. Reynolds said.
  • Iowa Association of Business and Industry President Mike Ralston also underscored the strong state of manufacturing in Iowa in his address, telling students that nearly 18% of state GDP comes from manufacturing. It is one of the largest percentages nationwide, Ralston said. “The output of all that manufacturing activity is almost $34 billion,” he told attendees.

‘Passionate about manufacturing’: Pella Corporation President and CEO Tim Yaggi told the audience, which included students from Pella High School, Oskaloosa High School and Prairie City Monroe Community High School, about his company’s original mission nearly a century ago. Yaggi hammered home that the firm still has many excellent jobs available for those able and willing.

  • “When Pete Kuyper founded Pella … he wasn’t passionate about windows or screens; he was passionate about manufacturing,” Yaggi said. “He knew that for this company, for this city to thrive, we needed a manufacturing base, and the reason he created the company was to create great jobs for the people of Iowa. Family. And that mission is just as true today as it was 96 years ago.”
  • Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Jason Andringa, host of the Pella tour stop, talked about the many families employed at his company. Children and grandchildren work alongside their parents and grandparents, he said. “Vermeer has been proud to help generate and develop the next generation of the workforce we need for manufacturing.”

Doing good—and being needed: In his remarks at the premier event, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons mixed things up by asking the audience about their plans for the future. “Raise your hand if you want to change the world for the better, if you want to do good,” he said. Numerous arms shot up. Continued Timmons, “With manufacturing, you can do good.”

Closing argument: “We need more people like you; we need you,” Timmons said. And what’s more, manufacturing gives people “opportunities to have a heck of a lot of fun.… I guarantee you are going to love it.”

Momentum: Joining the tour in Pella and broadcasting live from Vermeer Corporation, Fox Business Network and Fox News ran a combined five stories about the Creators Wanted campaign yesterday, including this hit with Neil Cavuto and Connell McShane. A CNN Newsource piece continues to appear in local television markets throughout the country. And Iowa news media is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Creators Wanted Pella tour stop.

Want to join the list of Creators Wanted sponsors? Email the Creators Wanted campaign.

Workforce

STEP Ahead Awards Highlight Outstanding Women in Manufacturing

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Some of the most impressive women in the industry gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards—the first in-person ceremony since the pandemic began. The awards, and the leadership training program that precedes them, are designed to recognize and advance women’s achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production. This year, honorees and “emerging leaders” from both 2020 and 2021 had the opportunity to attend the events, as last year’s events were online-only.

The leadership program: For the leadership training program, the MI brought in distinguished experts to help honorees advance their careers in the industry.

  • The program, consisting of general sessions and preselected breakouts, covered a range of must-have professional skills, such as negotiating. It also featured industry executives and STEP Ahead alumnae who provided firsthand accounts of their experiences in manufacturing, along with advice for navigating a career in the industry.

The awards ceremony: The awards gala took place on Thursday night. Nearly 600 guests gathered in person, adhering to strict health and safety protocols, including a vaccination requirement, while hundreds tuned in online. The program featured:

  • MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee;
  • 2021 STEP Ahead Chair and Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Global Supply Chain Officer Kathy Wengel;
  • NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons; and
  • Keynote speaker and Gravitas Founder and CEO Lisa Sun.

The awards sponsors included BASF, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Trane Technologies, BorgWarner and Rockwell Automation. This year’s STEP Ahead Vice Chair and 3M Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Denise Rutherford and Ketchie Inc. President and Owner Courtney Silver served as the masters of ceremonies.

Leading in a crisis: The speakers acknowledged the toll that the pandemic has taken on manufacturers and praised the honorees for contributing to the industry’s robust response.

  • As Lee put it, “How many times did we get knocked down? How many times did we think, ‘Maybe we got knocked out’? But we’re still here. And we’re here and we’re standing because of you, because of manufacturing. The women in this room and industry and our world are going to come out of this stronger than ever.”
  • Wengel echoed this sentiment, saying, “When I look around this room, it hits me: the incredible impact on human life that manufacturers from so many industries … have made in the past 22 months.”

Creators needed: Timmons, who has been traveling with Lee to promote the NAM and MI’s Creators Wanted Tour Live mobile experience, talked about the importance of attracting more women to the industry.

  • “With your example and your mentorship, you’re giving more and more young people a reason to say, ‘I want to be just like her,’” he said. “And we urgently need more people like you.”

Setting an example: Keynote speaker Sun had the crowd laughing and cheering as she talked about the critical importance of self-confidence for women.

  • The child of Vietnamese immigrants, Sun worked for 11 years at consulting firm McKinsey & Company. During a year-long sabbatical from the firm, she decided to launch her own fashion company to help other professional women look and feel confident.
  • “My 22-year-old self was told that I didn’t have any gravitas; it spurred me to action,” said Sun, referencing the origin of her company’s name. “McKinsey just came out with their ‘Women in the Workplace’ study. Women were the reason that we got through this pandemic … [but] traditional HR structures will not value the things that we did: empathy, relationship building … We have to give ourselves credit first.”

The reactions: The social media response was excited and optimistic—and often just plain proud!

The last word: As Lee told the honorees, “The ripple effect of your example goes a long way—strengthening our industry and changing our world.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers: This Moment and the Transformational Change It Will Bring About Has Been Decades in the Making

Washington, D.C. – Following the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released this statement:

“This moment and the transformational change it will bring about has been decades in the making. Manufacturers commend Congress for coming together to pass this historic, bipartisan legislation. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act makes America stronger, with a promise to renew and revitalize our nation’s physical infrastructure, improving productivity and quality of life for everybody—and without raising taxes or jeopardizing economic growth and manufacturing jobs.

“Failure to invest has been a drain on America’s economy, costing families and businesses significant time and money. This type of investment will enable us to continue to grow our economy and get started on building the world-class infrastructure that will enable us to lead through this century and into the next.”

To see the NAM-championed provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, click 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 12.4 million men and women, contributes $2.5 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector 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.

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