Creating Jobs Now: USW and AAM take the next step in Akron

Posted by TGarland on 04/04/2014

Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) VP for State Governmental Affairs Brian Lombardozzi writes from the road:

In order to bring together all of the work that [we] are doing, there must be an overarching theme. Something essential and simple, that can guide the process. To us, and to the American people, what that overarching theme must be is very simple. Jobs.

That was the message delivered by United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard at the opening of Wednesday’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 field meeting in Akron, Ohio. Hosted by the USW and the University of Akron, speakers stressed the need to harness technology to produce jobs now, not just hope that jobs will result in the future.

Said Gerard:

We can debate technology for technology’s sake all we want, we can discuss scale-up strategies and innovation hubs and write reports and make recommendations, but the public is going to decide if what we are doing has value if it will lead to the creation of good jobs, now and in the future.

Gerard went on to say that while the group meeting in Akron is called the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, it should not mean that “advanced manufacturing” is somehow different from “traditional manufacturing.”

Rather, it means the manufacturing sector and the jobs it supports in America can and must advance:

Such an effort can’t be limited to the development of new technologies. The supply chains for the components for those new technologies are made by the same people who have been building America for more than a century. Gerard fleshed that point out:

You need 200 tons of steel to build a wind turbine. To make cars more fuel efficient, you need better tires. All those workers, from the ones running the blast furnace to the ones operating the 3D printers, are part of the advanced manufacturing ecosystem.

Our work should be applicable to all of them.

At the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we read a lot in the press about the “manufacturing renaissance” and, while we are very pleased that over the last few years we have seen some growth in manufacturing jobs, that growth is not nearly enough. We lost 6 million of these middle-class jobs in the United States between 2000 and 2010. We’ve gained back only 600,000 since then.

In January, a poll released by AAM found 65 percent of Americans are likely to encourage their children and family members to seek manufacturing jobs.

But that percentage can be grown. The more manufacturing jobs are created in the U.S., the more they will be once again viewed as the stable, long-term paths to the middle class that they functioned as for decades. The polling shows: Americans want to build things, they want to build them here, and they are proud of all of the products and technologies developed and made here in America. And Washington could heed that call by backing large-scale infrastructure investment, but enforcing existing trade law, and improving it where it isn’t already on the books.

Let’s give Leo Gerard the last word:

If we focus on what we can do to create good jobs, now and in the future, the rest will follow. The technology will be developed and the manufacturing hubs will be instituted, the workforce will be trained and the small- to medium-sized manufacturers will scale up. These things can all work together, but only if we can all agree on where we are trying to go.

Where we are trying to go can be, should be, and must be in a direction that leads to good jobs in new industries, in existing industries, in all industries throughout America.

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