Policy and Legal

Manufacturers Show Up to Push for Swift USMCA Passage

During the NAM’s “Trade Makes America” Capitol Hill fly-in, more than 130 manufacturing representatives and USMCA stakeholders engaged with officials.

USMCA fly-in participants arrive at Capitol

Manufacturers from all over the nation came to Washington, D.C., this week to express the urgent need for United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) passage at a series of events with key legislative decision-makers. 

On Monday, a delegation of manufacturing leaders met with Vice President Mike Pence to highlight the importance of the USMCA to the U.S. manufacturing industryExecutives present included National Association of Manufacturers former Board Chair and Emerson CEO David Farr, Winton Machine Company CEO Lisa Winton, Kent Corporation CEO Gage Kent, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Sukup Manufacturing Co. President Charles Sukup and HM Manufacturing President Nicole Wolter. 

“The Trump administration continues to show its steadfast commitment to America’s manufacturing workers,” said Farr. “Manufacturers in Missouri and across the nation are keeping our promise to grow, invest and hire. This historic agreement will help us sustain this momentum. Congress must act now and ratify this agreement.” 

On Wednesday, during the NAM’s “Trade Makes America” Capitol Hill fly-in, more than 130 manufacturing representatives and USMCA stakeholders engaged in more than 130 meetings with offices throughout the House of Representatives and the Senate to make the case for passage of the agreement as soon as possible. Beginning on last Wednesday’s USMCA “day of action,” thousands of manufacturers have contacted Congress by phone and mail to advocate for USMCA passage.  

There is increasing recognition from both sides of the aisle about the need to modernizNorth American trade rules,” said NAM vice president of international economic affairs policy Linda Dempsey. “As Congress considers the USMCA, it is vital that they hear from the men and women who make things in Americasince they will be directly affected by their decision.” 

Canada and Mexico purchase more U.S.-manufactured goods than our next 11 trading partners combined despite representing less than 4 percent of the global economyMoreover, exports to Canada and Mexico support 2 million American manufacturing jobs and 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses. Comprehensive new NAM data shows the USMCA’s positive impacts in every state. 

Already ratified by Mexico, the USMCA is designed to modernize and bolster free trade between North American nations, aiding workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in each country. If ratified, the agreement will expand U.S. exports, improve intellectual property protections and enforcement and level the playing field for U.S. workers in every state.  

Manufacturers have been steadfast in urging quick congressional passage of the USMCA to ensure their businesses across the country can continue to grow, compete globally and support millions of well-paying jobs.  

Policy and Legal

NAM Launches New Climate Solutions Initiative

The Energy Advance Center will lead a multi-pronged effort to educate policymakers and advocate at the federal and state levels.

wind turbnies

In the eyes of manufacturers, the need to act to preserve our environment and protect our planet is beyond question. That’s why, for years, manufacturers across the country have taken steps to reduce pollution, invest in sustainable operations and protect the environment in their communities and across the globe.

Continuing in that effort, the National Association of Manufacturers unveiled a new strategic initiative designed to fight climate change, promote environmental sustainability and promote U.S. leadership in the development and deployment of new, transformational energy solutions. The recently announced Energy Advance Center will lead a multi-pronged effort to educate policymakers in Washington, D.C., and to advocate at the federal and state levels on the technical, economic and regulatory issues affecting the widespread deployment of technologies that help to capture harmful pollutants.

These methods and technologies, known collectively as Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), are critical to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, enhancing U.S. energy security and competitiveness and maintaining U.S. leadership in the development and deployment of new, transformational energy solutions. With a footprint that is not just national, but global in scope, manufacturers are dedicated to developing, deploying and advancing technologies that promote carbon capture utilization, which is designed to collect and store waste carbon dioxide to mitigate global warming.

“The launch of the Energy Advance Center (EAC) is yet another example of manufacturers keeping our promise to drive economic growth while building a future with cleaner air and water and a healthier environment,” said NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Ross Eisenberg. “CCUS is one of the most promising tools to address global climate change, and we’re dedicated to developing this technology here in the U.S.—and to ensuring America continues to lead on this issue.”

The NAM has previously supported wide-ranging, common sense solutions to support environmental protection, while also promoting economic growth. In addition to protecting and improving the environment, these technologies are expected to support the U.S. manufacturing sector and create jobs, demonstrating that productivity and sustainability are fully compatible with one another.

“We are excited to launch this new platform and continue to show that strong economic growth and responsible environmental stewardship can go hand in hand,” said Eisenberg.

EAC expects to expand its efforts through additional strategic partnerships with other industrial sector groups that are working to promote smart, effective carbon management policies, using NAM’s convening authority to collaborate on critical new programs and initiatives. And as manufacturers across the United States find new ways to improve their local and national environment, partnerships will become more useful and more effective.

“Manufacturers are leading the way on climate change,” said Eisenberg. “This new initiative is just the latest opportunity to expand opportunities for the 12 million men and women who make things in America while also creating a more sustainable future.”

Policy and Legal

As Manufacturing Booms, Freight Rail Invests

Modern freight rail systems are planning for even more demand from manufacturers to move freight on the nation’s rail network.

train winding through mountains

Many Americans are traveling this Independence Day, and many manufacturers transport goods throughout the year via rail. According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ “Building to Win” infrastructure plan, private investments averaging $27 billion annually over the past five years would allow the sector to maintain and upgrade its track and equipment.

Rail traffic density has increased by about 200 percent over the past four decades while the size of the rail network has remained relatively the same. For freight rail investment and growth to continue, a balance between competing rail interests must be implemented to keep the freight moving on time. Like people, freight can be on a time constraint because the customer is always waiting.

Congress passed the Congressional Rail Passenger Service Act to revitalize U.S. passenger rail and create Amtrak in 1971. Two years later, Congress granted “preference” to passenger rail systems, meaning tenant passenger trains are dispatched first and given special privileges on the privately-owned track. In turn, Amtrak is required to pay “incremental costs” and on time “incentive payments.”

Amtrak is also entitled to financial penalty provisions for delays. A majority of passenger routes utilize private freight track that most frequently consists of a single track with sidings. Passenger trains have eminent domain on freight track, but they operate differently than freight trains. They travel at higher speeds and require more headway clearance. These differences complicate the national network, exacerbating congestion to the detriment of just-in-time manufacturers moving growing levels of freight.

“The economic conditions 50 years ago, a time known for unemployment, high inflation, high interest rates and high oil prices, provide a stark contract to today’s economic growth, framed by lower taxes, low unemployment, low interest rates and competitive energy costs,” said NAM Director of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Catie Kawchak. “Freight railroads have invested heavily in their networks and infrastructure as a result of increasing demand from manufacturers, retailers and other shippers. However, today’s network is constrained by passenger rail’s priority access.”

Modern freight rail systems are planning for even more demand from manufacturers and retailers to move freight on the nation’s rail network. The Federal Highway Administration predicts that total U.S. overall freight shipments will increase 37 percent between now and 2040.  However, there’s one area where freight is constrained, and the future is stuck in a dated rail statute that provides priority access to freight rail’s longtime tenant, Amtrak.

“The strength of a freight network – trucking, rail and air cargo – supports our competitiveness and provides a needed capability for manufacturers to expand their reach,” said NAM Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Robyn Boerstling. “It’s a little-known fact that Amtrak trains have priority access to infrastructure owned and operated by private freight railroads. Striking the right balance between passenger and freight operations is critical.”


Heroes MAKE America Graduate’s Manufacturing Career Takes Flight

"Once I got to the description of Heroes MAKE America, I knew that was what I wanted to do."

Joseph Smith spent 20 years in the military, beginning as a mechanic working on Apache helicopters and serving for most of his career as a maintenance supervisor in the U.S. Army. Today, he’s a maintenance unit supervisor based in Davenport, Iowa, at Arconic—a worldwide light metals manufacturer creating products for sectors from aerospace to consumer electronics.

Initially, Smith didn’t know how he’d adapt to civilian life after two decades in the military, but he was immediately impressed with The Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, which aims to connect manufacturers with highly qualified candidates and offer transitioning service members manufacturing-related training and support, creating a pipeline between the military and manufacturing.

“I was trying to decide what I wanted to do after the military,” said Smith. “I was looking into the different programs and apprenticeships the army offered, and once I got to the description of Heroes MAKE America, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Smith grew up interested in how things are made. “I used to watch that How It’s Made series on TV,” he said. For him, his new job makes sense. He still enjoys watching how aluminum is made from raw material and seeing it become a finished product like the wing of an airplane.

“There’s so much that goes into the products that we use and the things we see on a daily basis,” he said.

Smith has been impressed by the similarities between his role in the military and his current position. While the transition to civilian life could have been challenging after two decades in the military, he immediately found manufacturing was uniquely suited to his skills.

“I could almost instantly tell,” Smith said. “The way that the maintenance portion of Arconic runs was very similar to, day-to-day, how working in the military was.”

Smith encourages other veterans to consider making the same move he did and emphasizes the number of jobs available to skilled workers.

“There are a lot of people who don’t realize how valuable a career in manufacturing can be,” says Smith. “Especially for a veteran coming out of the military, they don’t realize how in-demand their skills can be. Everything you do can be translated into a manufacturing career. And manufacturing employers are hiring like crazy.”

Learn more about the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program.

Business Operations

Range Resources Gives Back With Butterfly Enhancement Project

“Habitat enhancement provides something the public can see and benefit from.”

Natural gas producer Range Resources aims to better the environment with its new, unique habitat enhancement commitment. On land that once hosted sites related to natural gas development, Range Resources’ Habitat Enhancement program is working to help animal pollinators in southwestern Pennsylvania like Monarch butterflies and honey bees by covering final reclamation sites with plants that are essential for them to thrive.

“We try to be good stewards in our community by supporting projects like these,” said Jeremy Matinko, Range’s Environmental Compliance Manager. “Habitat enhancement provides something the public can see and benefit from.”

After surface operations have ended at a site, Pennsylvania regulations require the site to be restored to its original state. Range has pledged to exceed those expectations in post-drilling restoration, creating habitats that are more hospitable to wildlife than the previous environment. This project has involved planting thousands of Milkweed seeds, a plant that is vital to the survival of monarch butterflies because it provides a food source for caterpillars, and a seed mix that includes grass and wild flowers that support honey bees and other helpful insects. Beyond bringing pollinators back to southwestern Pennsylvania, the company is also creating aquatic features that can become homes for reptiles, amphibians and waterfowl.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce, but as a result of climate change and human living practices, the habitats of these pollinators have been on the decline. Range Resources’ project aims to reverse that trend. Already, the impact of the program can be seen through the growth of a variety of pollinator plant species and the presence of butterflies, bees and other pollinators across these sites. And while Range Resources is currently implementing the program only on final reclamation sites, it hopes to expand their efforts to include post-drilling restoration.

“Manufacturers across the country are taking proactive and creative steps to improve the environment and enhance their communities,” said National Association of Manufacturers Director of Energy and Resources Policy Laura Berkey-Ames. “The work that Range Resources is doing to build and improve natural habitats in Pennsylvania is an exciting part of that effort. We’re looking forward to seeing continued results as this project grows.”

Policy and Legal

Bill Would Require Federal Agencies to Give More Notice of Regulations

capitol building Washington DC

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. That was the message at a hearing last week for a bill aimed at increasing transparency by requiring federal agencies to give advanced notice of regulations. The bill, approved by voice vote with bipartisan support by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, will move on now to consideration by the full Senate.

Under the Early Participations in Regulations Act, businesses and the public would have more notice of proposed major rules, giving federal agencies more time to collect public comments. Agencies would have to publish advanced notice of proposed rulemaking at least 90 days before the official rulemaking notice. Major rules are considered to be those that have costs or benefits to the economy in the amount of $100 million or more in a calendar year.

Currently, by the time a notice of proposed rulemaking is released, federal agencies have typically already decided what kind of rule will be issued. The proposed bill would give the public more time to be involved on the front end, forcing agencies to collect public comments before proposing concrete regulatory terms, giving affected parties a chance to offer ideas on how to achieve a regulatory goal that the agency may not have considered. If the bill is enacted, among other things, final rules will benefit from a more robust consideration of the public’s feedback and will be more likely to hold up in court.

“An advanced notice requirement would help surface potential roadblocks or find smarter regulatory approaches at an earlier stage before the agency has invested an inordinate amount of time into its chosen path,” said Patrick Hedren, NAM’s Vice President for Labor, Legal and Regulatory Policy. “This is just a basic transparency and good governance measure meant to force agencies to solicit regulatory ideas from the public that they might otherwise not have considered.”

This bill is one that the NAM has long supported in previous Congresses, and it continues to support this legislation in its current form.

“We’re thrilled to see Senators Lankford and Sinema engage on bipartisan good governance measures like this one that improve the way the federal government seeks input from manufacturers and the public,” Hedren said.

Policy and Legal

Vice President Pence Talks USMCA at Pennsylvania Manufacturing Facility

Robotic packaging manufacturer JLS Automation received some distinguished visitors earlier this month when Vice President Mike Pence, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and three members of Congress toured its manufacturing facility in York, Pennsylvania along with JLS CEO Craig Souser, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons and local manufacturing leaders. The event focused on advancing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which would promote trade between the three countries and is currently being considered in Congress.

At the event, Vice President Pence spoke about the importance of the deal for manufacturers in the United States, noting that Pennsylvania already exports more than $14 billion in goods and services to Canada and Mexico. The vice president also highlighted the impact this deal would have on the more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs that depend on exports to Canada and Mexico—including 42,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, as outlined in the NAM’s own USMCA state fact sheet.  One in four Pennsylvania manufacturing firms export to North American partners, as the fact sheet further states, and more than 80 percent of them are small and medium-sized businesses.

Without a free trade agreement, Pennsylvania’s exports to North American free trade partners could face more than $1.5 billion in tariffs.

“It’s absolutely essential we get the USMCA passed by the Congress, and passed by the Congress this summer,” said Vice President Pence. “It’ll finally give American workers and farmers a level playing field that we need to be able to compete and win.”

The NAM has been vocal in its support of the USMCA, standing up for manufacturers like JLS Automation across the country that rely on trade in order to keep their businesses running.

“When we talk about growing international trade, we’re talking about something very, very local: strengthening our communities and supporting our families,” said Jay Timmons, NAM President and CEO. “That’s why JLS and manufacturers across the United States and the more than 12.8 million men and women who make things in America are calling on Congress to ratify the USMCA – and the sooner the better!”

At the event, JLS Automation CEO Craig Souser emphasized the importance of the Canadian market to his business—a family-run operation his father, Joseph L. Souser, founded—and urged lawmakers to pass the deal.

“We need to see our lawmakers in Washington help to expand our ability to penetrate this market with modern trade policies and pass the USMCA,” said Souser. “The administration has kept its promise to negotiate a new North American trade deal. So it’s time for the Congress and the Senate to do its part so that we can focus on what we do best: make world-class machines.”

Policy and Legal

Climate R&D Bill Would Make Manufacturing More Competitive

Two Bosch manufacturing workers look at a powercell.

A House of Representatives committee recently held a hearing on a bill designed to drive breakthrough innovations to tackle climate change—a priority that has the strong support of the National Association of Manufacturers and manufacturing businesses across the country.

The Clean Industrial Technology Act (CITA) would set up a Transformational Industrial Technology Program at the U.S. Department of Energy, and would drive new technologies aimed at increasing the technological and economic competitiveness of manufacturing in the United States. The program would also find pathways to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create a technical assistance program to help local communities and states evaluate and incentivize the adoption of technologies that reduce industrial greenhouse gases. The legislative hearing on the CITA was held by the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In the Senate, the NAM has been working closely with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on similar legislation.

“Manufacturers have always been about solutions,” said Rachel Jones, Senior Director of Energy and Resources Policy at the NAM. “We need real-world technologies to address our global climate problem, and legislation like the CITA provides a common sense opportunity to move our efforts forward. This bill takes a clear-eyed look at the unique challenges that different energy-intensive industries face as we all work toward ensuring a safer and more prosperous future.”

Manufacturers across the country are deeply involved in sustainability programs, leading the way for other industries in protecting our environment. Most manufacturing companies have already pioneered new technologies and implemented meaningful programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With more than 12 million men and women employed by the industry in every state in the country, manufacturing businesses have a unique perspective on the challenges of our shared path forward and have consistently worked with Congress to promote bills like the CITA.

“Providing incentives for U.S. businesses, schools and laboratories to bring game-changing technologies into the commercial sector isn’t just good policy; it’s common sense,” said Jones. “Cooperative partnerships between industry, government and academia benefit all three sectors and the country as a whole.”

Manufacturers contributed 18 percent more value to the American economy over the past decade while reducing the carbon footprint of their products by 21 percent—demonstrating that productivity and sustainability are compatible with each other—and keeping the industry’s promise to promote sustainable solutions.

“Manufacturers are committed to reducing greenhouse gases and addressing climate change while preserving our global competitiveness,” said Jones. “This legislation is a great example of how we are working with policymakers to turn aspirations into reality in order to protect our environment and improve our world. Manufacturers applaud the House Science Committee and Sen. Whitehouse for their leadership.”


Heroes MAKE America Student Makes Tracks at Goodyear

“As manufacturing goes more autonomous, there are more skilled positions available.”

Jason Gustine participates in a tour while in the Heroes MAKE America program.

Jason Gustine has always enjoyed learning how things are made. As an area manager at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Topeka, Kansas, he taps into his lifelong interest while making use of the people skills and the processes he learned in the military.

“I was worried it would be a culture shock, and I wasn’t going to fit in,” said Gustine. “But going into a manufacturing facility, it fits exactly with the military mindset. That was the biggest surprise—how easy that transition was.”

Military service runs in Gustine’s family. His father is a former helicopter pilot who served in Vietnam, and Gustine was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He joined the U.S. Army in January 2008 and served 11 years in the military—as a mechanic, a Blackhawk crew chief, a standardization instructor and eventually a leader in quality control, making sure helicopters were safe to fly.

When he was beginning the transition out of military service, Gustine joined up with the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program, which aims to connect manufacturers with highly qualified candidates and offer transitioning service members manufacturing-related training and support, creating a pipeline between the military and manufacturing. Through the program in Fort Riley, Kansas, he realized that manufacturing was a perfect next step for him.

“It fit into my wheelhouse,” he said. “A lot of it was maintenance and mechanics, which I’d been doing my whole life. Making sure that the product they’re sending out is the right quality. And every Friday, we would go tour a different facility. That’s what opened my eyes to what manufacturing had to offer.”

He credits the Heroes MAKE America program with helping to smooth the transition out of the military.

“Getting out of the military is a very stressful time,” he said. “I had all these skills—I had worked on helicopters for 10 years—but I didn’t really know how that was going to transition to the civilian world.”

Gustine has been impressed with the way manufacturing has integrated high-tech processes into daily operations without lessening the need for skilled employees, and the industry continues to emphasize the need for new workers.

“People have this idea that it’s all automated now, which is not true at all,” he said. “As manufacturing goes more autonomous, there are more skilled positions available.”

Gustine is enthusiastic about what manufacturing has to offer and encourages other service members to consider the wide range of available roles.

“The manufacturing field is so big—you can do everything from making tires in Topeka to building cars in Ohio,” Gustine said. “Whatever you want to do, you can find your niche or find your spot. It opened my eyes to how much manufacturing there is in the United States. Find out where you want to go, and the sky is the limit in manufacturing.”

Learn more about the Manufacturing Institute’s Heroes MAKE America program.

Policy and Legal

N.C. Family-owned Manufacturer Has Best Year Yet

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Ketchie, a 71-year-old family-owned machine shop based in Concord, N.C., is thriving, thanks to the benefits of tax reform.

Company president Courtney Ketchie Silver is quick to note that tax reform made a transformative impact on its business.

“Because of tax reform, our customers are expanding,” Silver explained. “They’re investing in new equipment, they’re expanding their shopfloors. There’s a general level of confidence, and that’s resulting in increased demand for Ketchie’s products.”

In fact, 2018 turned out to be Ketchie’s best year yet in its seven-decade history. 2018 sales increased a whopping 25 percent year over year.

“Because of this huge demand, Ketchie was able to make a number of capital investments,” Silver said. Overall, Ketchie pumped nearly $500,000 into capital equipment last year, which will help the company continue to meet demand for years to come.

The increased investment led to a hiring boom as well. In 2018, Ketchie expanded its workforce by 20 percent, with all new hiring taking place on the shopfloor rather than in the back office. That sort of single-year growth “has never happened before,” explained Silver. “Employees are excited to see the company grow.”

Existing employees are also benefitting through pay raises and quarterly bonuses. In order to continue to develop their employees, the company has worked with the local community college and has been the recipient of grant funding from the state of North Carolina. Ketchie has also joined the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute to promote manufacturing and help match individuals and employers in the area.

“As we’ve seen for the past year and a half since its enactment, tax reform is giving businesses the ability to reinvest in and expand their operations, and manufacturers are leading the way in this effort,” said Chris Netram, NAM vice president of tax and domestic economic policy, said. “Manufacturers have reported record levels of optimism for nine consecutive quarters in our Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, and, through increased spending and investment, that optimism is helping fuel our entire economy.”

“It’s such a change from 2008, 2009,” agreed Silver, referring to 2019’s booming economic climate. “For the first time since then, people are confident. And their actions are following that confidence. Overall, I have a positive outlook for the year.”

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