January 6, 2014: Happy New Year and welcome to the future!
Welcome to the first Early Shift of 2014! We made it to the future! Your friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) hope you were able to take some relaxing time off, and that you have not yet broken all of your New Year’s resolutions! The new year brings some changes for us, specifically for this little email here. Instead of receiving a daily blast from us each morning, five days a week, you’ll receive two.
That’s right! On Mondays we’ll start you off with a look at the week ahead, and on Fridays, we’ll give you a wrap-up of the week, and make sure you're caught up on all the important news from the previous four days. Sound good? We think so!
Now, on with the show…
The first full week of January is a big one! This evening, the Senate is scheduled to vote on, and expected to confirm, Janet Yellen as the new chair of the Federal Reserve. Back in November, Yellen testified in front of the Senate Banking Committee, and while she did not then give us much of a glimpse into her thoughts about currency manipulation on the part of America's trading partners, we know from her past statements that she’s aware of the problem.
We spent most of last year watching, from afar, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. No trade deal has been drafted yet and the negotiations were moved to this year, but the Financial Times speculates that President Obama is going to have a tough time selling such a deal to his base.
James Politi writes:
Mr Obama is likely to reprise the themes from that speech in his State of the Union address in late January, which will probably be more geared towards energising his supporters ahead of congressional midterm elections in November than finding common ground with Republicans.
But it is far from clear that this growing emphasis on economic populism can be squared with the president’s ambitious second-term trade agenda, including massive deals with other 11 Pacific nations and the EU that could well be sealed within the coming year.
AAM will of course be monitoring this story-- and not just for this week, but throughout the year.
Of course, the hottest topic in D.C. today is unemployment benefits -- which were cut off to 1.3 million Americans at the end of December. At AAM, we’re hoping to see the emergency benefits extended, as beneficiaries put that money back into the U.S. economy … hopefully by purchasing American-made goods.
While we’re talking about trade and unemployment, this is a great time to remind you that tomorrow morning the Commerce Department releases the monthly U.S. trade figures. And, on Friday, the Labor Department releases the monthly employment numbers. Like we said, big week!
AAM’s President Scott Paul will be interviewed on The Ed Schultz Radio Show later today regarding the deal reached between Boeing and members of the Machinists union. At AAM we’re of course pleased to see that the 777x will be made by highly-skilled workers at Boeing’s Everett, WA plant. Having airplanes made by skilled manufacturers truly benefits everyone. Of course, it’s also a sign of the times that Boeing wants concessions from it workers. Concessions, we might add, which result in fewer dollars working their way through the U.S. economy.
Finally, we turn our collective eye this week to the world of garment manufacturing. Police fired on (and killed several) striking garment workers in Cambodia last week.
Workers at most of Cambodia's more than 500 garment factories are on strike, demanding an increase in the minimum wage to $160 a month, double the current rate. The government has offered $100 a month.
And in a sad twist of irony, Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post, reports on the missed opportunity by the U.S. Senate to improve working conditions at garment factories abroad, specifically in Bangladesh.
Concerned it may undermine their own response to recent factory disasters and cost them business, U.S. clothing makers pressured the Senate to spike a provision in this year's military spending bill that would have promoted a plan to improve labor standards in Bangladesh.
Well, neglecting safety standards is one way to ensure that Americans can buy all the cheap clothes they can shove into their Chinese-made bureaus, no?
But seriously, wouldn’t it be nice to see more apparel manufacturing in the United States in 2014? We think so. In fact, AAM has a few things on it’s 2014 legislative radar.
So does Scott Paul’s son, Jonah:
What about you, what is your manufacturing-related hope for 2014? Tweet them to us using #MFG2014 or email them to info [at] aamfg [dot] org.
That’s it for now, America. Check out our blog throughout the week and we’ll see you back in your inbox on Friday!
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