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On Thursday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) continued its fight against state attorneys general targeting manufacturers. The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court, arguing against the misguided efforts of Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey to silence energy manufacturers.

The NAM’s amicus brief asks the U.S. Supreme Court to consider and reverse a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that that upheld the validity of the attorney general’s subpoena, which sought decades of ExxonMobil’s communications relating to climate change. ExxonMobil challenged the authority of Massachusetts courts to enforce the subpoena because ExxonMobil’s limited commercial activity in the state (licensing agreements with independent gas stations) is unrelated to the focus of the subpoena.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the subpoena despite the tenuous connection between the company’s advertising and the subpoena. That low bar threatens all manufacturers by massively expanding the range of venues through which plaintiffs or government officials may pursue claims against manufacturers. The NAM’s amicus brief argues that subpoenas like this are valid only when the nature of the company’s in-state conduct has a substantial relationship with the focus of the subpoena.

Healey’s investigation is just part of a larger effort nationwide to target energy manufacturers, purportedly over climate change. But as manufacturers have argued, and the Supreme Court has concluded, the courts are not the right venue for setting climate change policy. That work belongs in the legislative and executive branches, and the MCLA, as well as the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, will continue to work to ensure that attorneys general, trial lawyers and activists do not succeed in their efforts to undermine our judicial system.

The post In Supreme Court Brief, MCLA Defends Manufacturers Against Overreaching Investigation appeared first on Shopfloor.

It’s finally here! Today, October 5th, MFG Day 2018 kicks off a month full of manufacturing events as thousands of factories and technical schools open their doors to parents, teachers and students to demonstrate the reality of modern manufacturing. There are more than 2,600 events across the country, from coast to coast. Take a look at MFGDay.com for a full list of opportunities in your area.

Why should you celebrate MFG Day with us?

First, it’s fun.  You get to do things like play with augmented reality apps. You get to see up close and firsthand how modern manufacturing actually works in 2018. Odds are, you’ll probably be surprised by what you find, too. This isn’t the industry your grandparents remember. Manufacturing jobs are increasingly high-tech, high-skill, and high-pay–yet they often don’t require a four-year degree and the debt that can come with it.  And there are lots of them.

That brings us to the second reason to attend an MFG Day event: many Americans have the kind of outdated view of manufacturing careers that you may have had yourself, and that’s not only holding them back from great careers that can advance their lives–it’s also causing a workforce crisis in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers are generating so many good jobs these days that they cannot find enough skilled workers to fill them. As an NAM survey released just this morning shows, 92.5 percent of manufacturers are optimistic about their businesses yet 73 percent express serious concerns about their ability to continue growing amid the shortage of workers. MFG Day is one of the best opportunities we have to smash the false perceptions that perpetuate this crisis.

Manufacturers, like Samsung, are constantly looking for employees who are passionate about, and have the skills to be successful in, high-tech manufacturing.  These are jobs that provide opportunities at various education backgrounds. For example, Samsung provides numbers career paths with rewarding opportunities to employees with high school diplomas all the way to PhDs. I’ll be kicking off MFG Day myself with Samsung today along with dozens of students from local high schools for a tour and presentation at the company’s semiconductor facility in Austin, Texas. We’ll get the chance to see cutting-edge technology up close at one of the most advanced semiconductor fabrication facilities in the world. I’m looking forward to it and I’m grateful to the many sponsors like Samsung who make MFG Day possible.

If we want to open minds, we first have to open doors. That’s what MFG Day is all about. It’s key to inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and it may even open a door to new career opportunities for you. So I hope you’ll take the opportunity to check out firsthand what modern manufacturing has to offer by attending an event yourself. Even if you can’t, make sure to join the online conversation this week using #MFGDay18 and engage with @mfgday, @shopfloornam and @themfginstitute on Twitter and @nampage and @mfgday on Facebook.

The post It’s Manufacturing Day – Here’s Why You Should Find an Event Near You and Celebrate appeared first on Shopfloor.

The vast majority of manufacturers–92.5 percent–in Q3 2018 said they have a positive outlook for their businesses, according the NAM’s most recent outlook survey, and the just-released September employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that optimism is well-placed. As proof of the economy’s swift upward trajectory, the non-farm unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent–the lowest level since December 1969.

The manufacturing data reinforce this picture of robust economic health. The BLS reported that manufacturers added 18,000 workers in September, and more importantly, it revised the July and August figures upward by a significant amount. Those revisions increased manufacturing employment by a total of 12,000 workers. Overall, the data continue to show strong hiring in manufacturing, with the sector generating 23,167 workers on average each month over the past 12 months. That is consistent with healthy growth in the manufacturing sector, including solid demand and production, not to mention the record-breaking overall outlook. Manufacturers’ optimism for 2018 is on track to be the highest annual average in the outlook survey’s 20-year history.

Since the end of the Great Recession, manufacturing employment has risen by 1,294,000 workers, with 12,747,000 employees in the sector in this report. Turning to income growth, average weekly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees in manufacturing rose to $908.10 in September, up 3.5 percent from $877.38 in September 2017. This too supports the rosy outlook of the survey; manufacturers project that wages will continue growing at the fastest pace in 17 years.

Meanwhile, nonfarm payroll employment increased by just 134,000 in September, the slowest monthly pace in one year and well below the consensus estimate of around 180,000. With that said, weather conditions, specifically with Hurricane Florence, likely pushed the data lower. On the positive side, the July and August data were revised higher, adding another 87,000 workers in total to those months. Nonfarm payrolls have risen by a solid 211,417 per month on average over the past 12 months.

Last, durable and nondurable goods manufacturers added 17,000 and 1,000 employees, respectively. The largest increases included fabricated metal products (up 3,700), nonmetallic mineral products (up 2,700), food manufacturing (up 2,600), chemicals (up 2,400), computers and electronic products (up 2,100), furniture and related products (up 1,900) and machinery (up 1,700), among others. In contrast, employment in several manufacturing sectors declined, including apparel (down 1,800), miscellaneous nondurable goods (down 1,300), textile mills (down 800), motor vehicles and parts (down 400) and printing and related support activities (down 300).

The post Manufacturers Add 18,000 Jobs in September as Unemployment Hits Lowest Rate Since 1969 appeared first on Shopfloor.

Manufacturers take environmental stewardship seriously. As outlined in an op-ed that ran just this morning, manufacturers are looking to the future and leading by example through the implementation of sustainable practices and reducing their environmental footprint.

With the NAM’s most recent economic outlook survey–released last week–underlining the industry’s strong economic optimism, manufacturers are taking the opportunity to not only invest more, grow their workforces, and increase salaries but also embrace practices that protect the environment. One way this commitment is being demonstrated is through the NAM’s Sustainability in Manufacturing Partnership with the Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program. Launched on April 10, this partnership has provided a national platform for manufacturers to highlight their company’s projects, encourage the adoption of energy-efficient and sustainable practices, and explore emerging technologies and evaluate future challenges that need to be addressed.

Moreover, when the NAM recently surveyed its member companies on sustainability, the numbers came back overwhelmingly positive. Not only do 93.8 percent report tracking energy usage and 81 percent report tracking water consumption, but 74 percent report that they have a recycling program in place to do something about it and 72 percent of manufacturers report that they have a sustainability policy in place to do something about it (another 8.3 percent have programs under development). What are they doing? Well, as the op-ed notes, you can check out Manufacturing a Sustainable Future to see many different examples. The oped contains a few examples itself, for instance:

“When wallboard waste comes back to USG Corporation’s Rainier, Ore. plan, a machine separates the gypsum core from the paper. The paper is then sent to a local dairy farm, where it’s used for bedding, while the recovered gypsum goes back into the manufacturing process to be recycled into new wallboard . . . ”

“Union Pacific reduced its energy consumption by 3.8 million kilowatt hours in 2017— enough to power more than 400 American homes for a year.”

With an eye toward the future, the National Association of Manufacturers is once again proving that modern manufacturing in America is synonymous to innovation, investment, and environmental stewardship. We know that manufacturers will continue to keep their promises too, because they remain committed to safeguarding the health and longevity of our planet and its people.

The post Manufacturers are Paving the Way as Environmental Stewards appeared first on Shopfloor.

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 (S. 3021) is the second significant infrastructure bill Congress has sent to the president’s desk in as many weeks and manufacturers welcome its strong, bipartisan passage (98-1). Last week, the president signed into law the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 following a similarly strong and bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate.

The bipartisan AWIA includes both improvements to drinking and waste water infrastructure and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Manufacturers recognize that drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is a vital component of the manufacturing ecosystem and continue to call for reliable and consistent authorizations for Army Corps civil works projects. Upgrading and modernizing harbors and ports as well as aging inland waterway lock systems is critical to manufacturers’ ability to engage in commerce.

The NAM announced in a letter to U.S. Senators on Tuesday that it would key-vote passage of S. 3021. It’s fitting that the Senate would unite to pass this important water infrastructure bill today, which happens to be the day when organizations across the country Imagine a Day Without Water.

The post Congress Sends President Trump Another Pro-Manufacturing Infrastructure Bill appeared first on Shopfloor.

Affordable package delivery service is critical to the manufacturing industry. In the United States, manufacturers rely on a handful of key players—including the U.S. Postal Service—that compete against each other to provide fair domestic rates for bringing a package from the warehouse to a customer’s front door.

The Postal Service, however, gives some shippers located outside of the United States a far better deal. Those shippers can take advantage of an almost unbelievable subsidy for package delivery due to the bizarre application of an international agreement that sets global rules for exchanging mail. The end result is that international shippers get much lower rates than what a domestic shipper would pay for the same service.

The impact of this subsidy used to be minimal, but with the growth of e-commerce, it is becoming a much bigger problem: inbound packets are increasingly displacing U.S. products in the market while enabling counterfeit goods and dangerous drugs to flood into the country.

The international agreement at issue here is administered by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an international agency established in 1875 that has long set global postal rules behind closed doors. The agreement—formalized in the 1960s—still treats China and other countries as far less developed than they actually are; that allows them to benefit from especially low rates, which is effectively a subsidy. As a result, USPS provides postal operators from China and other countries with below-market and sometimes below-cost rates for delivering inbound letter post items.

The agreement initially intended for these rates to only cover items that we usually think of as “mail,” or letters and flats, but the category includes items up to 4.4lbs. Over the past several years, this 4.4lbs limit has opened the door for small items to enter into the country from places like China at extremely low prices. This result is hardly surprising, because under the agreement, it is cheaper to ship a small packet via airmail from China than it is to send that same item across the street here in the United States. That system is unsustainable, and it places a tremendous cost on the Postal Service. It lost $170 million last year because of this subsidy, and that loss is growing at a roughly 40 percent rate annually with much of the growth made up of volume from China.

Manufacturers scored a major victory in August, when President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum (PM) laying out clear objectives for ending this unfair subsidy at a September meeting of the UPU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The PM calls on the State Department negotiators to issue a report to the president on the outcome of those admittedly long-shot efforts in Addis by no later than November 1.  After the president receives the report, he will then consider options for reform, including simply adopting a system of “self-declared rates” that reflect cost and are available on a nondiscriminatory basis. But the outcome of the Addis Ababa meeting makes such a report unnecessary, because, just like almost everyone expected, there essentially was no outcome at all.

The State Department negotiators took home a vague and weak promise from the UPU delegates to consider the terminal dues problem several years down the road, with any “fix” not going into effect until the mid-2020s.

So what comes next?

For the most part, the answer to that question comes down to what the president and his advisers choose to do in response to the outcome of the Addis Ababa meeting. Staying the course and hoping for a vague diplomatic fix down the road is clearly not a realistic option. Some might suggest withdrawal, but that option is neither needed nor constructive, as other parts of the UPU, particularly its valuable framework for exchanging mail, provide benefits for U.S. residents.

There should be no need to tear up the entire agreement simply to fix a problem that only involves the limited number of countries that send a meaningful amount of packages to the United States. Rather, manufacturers see the most constructive path as self-declaring the appropriate rates for inbound packages and showing the UPU that the United States is serious about real and immediate reform.

We are extremely encouraged by the work that the administration has done to date on this issue. Although it will take time to work out the details and implement a fix, this problem really is eminently fixable under current U.S. law. Manufacturers look forward to working with the White House, the State Department and the other players involved to find a path forward that closes the door to abusive practices and unfair competition.

The post Manufacturers Need Action to End the Unfair Postal Subsidy. Waiting Is Not an Option. appeared first on Shopfloor.