Neutex Advanced Energy Group, a Houston-based maker of LED lights, light bulbs and fixtures, brought its core manufacturing operation from China back to the United States last year and turned to the Electrical Workers (IBEW) to staff its facility.
Paul Puente, assistant business manager of IBEW Local 716, approached John Higgins, president and CEO of Neutex, to discuss his needs and concerns and how they could work together.Higgins agreed to make the facility an IBEW union shop, and the Electrical Workers agreed to provide training for its workers and help the company market its union-made products. Neutex will employ 250 to 300 IBEW members in its 15,000-square-foot facility.
“The partnership with the IBEW, it’s giving us credibility when we’re growing in leaps and bounds,” says Higgins. “We should be able to bring this [to the United States] and still be able to make a much better quality product, in better time and help our middle class.”
This post originally appeared on AFL-CIO’s @Work site. Read more @Work stories here.
Tags: aflcio, houston, ibew, Jobs, outsourcing, Texas
Working America members will be launching the “Rep. MikeCoffman: Who Do You Work For?” campaign to educate their fellow Coloradans about the representative’s radical legislative agenda to privatize programs like Social Security and Medicaid, and most recently, his efforts to privatize the work of the Department of Defense.
“Rep. Coffman seems to feel that it’s more important to give tax breaks to corporations and focus on unnecessary privatization than try to bring jobs to his district,” said Working America State Director Kevin Pape. “He’s not looking out for Coloradans, and it’s time we let constituents know who he really works for.”
During the campaign, members will be collecting petition signatures fromCoffman’s constituents telling him that they do not support his privatization efforts and will hold a public event for petition delivery. They will also be hosting media events and submitting letters to the editor educating Coloradans about Coffman’s attempts to sell off public assets and shift tax dollars to the huge corporations that funded his campaign.
Working America has more than 125,000 members in the state of Colorado.
For updates, follow @WorkingAmerica on Twitter.
Tags: Colorado, Corporate Accountability, Jobs, Mike Coffman, outsourcing
Guest post by Leo Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers. This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
The conduct of the New York State Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in rehabilitating the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge can only be described as anti-American.
The MTA plans to send $235.7 million of Americans’ hard-earned toll dollars to China for foreign steel and foreign fabrication to renovate a bridge over the Hudson River that Americans built with American steel and American fabrication 50 years ago.
The MTA must stop. It must stop converting this American landmark — the longest suspension bridge in North America – into a foreign-made object. The MTA must stop. It must stop eroding American manufacturing, spurning American workers and wounding the American economy. The MTA must immediately stop stimulating the Chinese economy, employing Chinese workers with American toll dollars, transferring technological skills overseas and heightening Chinese power over America by enlarging the trade deficit. The MTA must stop, now, and buy American.
It’s the MTA’s contention that it can dodge buy American requirements because it is repairing the bridge with toll dollars, not tax dollars. The MTA used this contrivance to buy 15,000 tons of steel plate from state-owned and subsidized Anshan Iron & Steel Group of China and fabrication work from the China Railway Shanhaiguan Bridge Group.
Responding to criticism that MTA, a government agency, shirked buy American requirements, the authority’s executive director Thomas F. Prendergast said American corporations and workers weren’t capable of doing the work. America is not number one, Prendergast said. American manufacturers and American workers are just not as competent as the Chinese, according to the MTA.
This is exactly what Caltrans contended when it purchased Chinese steel and Chinese manufacturing for the Bay Bridge construction in California – after refusing federal aid so it could duck buy American provisions. Americansjust couldn’t do the work, Caltrans contended. And yet, American firms that bid on the project said they could. Caltrans ended up sending dozens of experts to China to babysit its contractors there; inspectors repeatedlydiscovered defects in welds, and the steel arrived from China 15 months late.
Caltrans said the bid from the consortium of American firms was too high, and the proposal would have delayed the project. But with hundreds of millions in cost overruns and a year’s delay attributable to the foreign purchases,the difference between the two bids at this point is negligible.
But it’s too late now. Caltrans denied American corporations the contracts, American workers the jobs, the American economy the boost. Caltrans contributed to the bleeding of American manufacturing jobs, 6,000 of which were lost just last month. MTA plans to join Caltrans in thwarting the Obama administration’s effort to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs.
With precious little effort, the United Steelworkers found two American bridge fabricators that said they could meet MTA’s requirements for specialized orthotropic steel decking for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Both are located in eastern Pennsylvania within 100 miles of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge site.
One was cleared by a bonding company, lined up financing and prepared to meet the MTA’s construction schedule.Also in eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh University’s Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Center tested full-scale prototypes of the orthotropic steel panels for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Both American bridge fabricators were prepared to use American-made steel, which would employ Americans in good, family-supporting jobs in mills that are required to control emissions and that wouldn’t have contributed to pollution by hauling steel halfway around the world.
MTA ignored all that and went to China for the steel and fabrication. It ignored Americans’ strong desire for government agencies to buy American, with 90 percent of Republicans and Democrats supporting buy American for public works projects. MTA ignored untold hidden costs of buying foreign — including pollution, quality concerns and delays.
And while claiming American companies and American workers are not up to snuff, MTA overlooked the fact that Ansteel of the Anshan Iron & Steel Group has never before produced steel plate of the type required for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge project. And the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Staten Island and Brooklyn would beonly the second in the United States for China Railway Shanhaiguan Bridge Group. In fact, Anshan officials toldthe Wall Street Journal that the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge project would be a test to determine whether its steel bridges “can go out into the world.”
The MTA decided to go to China even though eight bridges collapsed in China in little over a year, including one of the longest in Northern China, the Yangmingtan Bridge in Harbin last August. That $300 million span was only nine months old.
The MTA has tried to reassure protesters, including Republican and Democrat New York state lawmakers, that there is no risk. Prendergast told them all not to worry, no problem. “The safety of the public is always our paramount concern,” Prendergast contends – exactly what Caltrans said.
MTA officials and construction management staff went to China to make sure everything is ok, Prendergast says. Steel was tested with “good results.” Not great results. But, you know, good ones. Further tests will be done in the United States, Prendergast says. He pledges that MTA will maintain at the Chinese plant “a full time quality assurance presence,” whatever that means.
The upshot is that MTA and its construction manager will pay to send experts and staff to China to try to ensure good quality work, the same way Caltrans did. That’s a costly proposition. In addition, it means that these American professionals will transfer their technical knowledge and skill and expertise to a Chinese company. China won’t have to steal it. MTA plans to give it away.
These same MTA experts and consultants could have been sent less than 100 miles to one of two Pennsylvania firms to oversee quality control and collaborate with American manufacturers.
Any technical skill transfer then would have stayed within the United States, increasing American companies’ ability to complete such infrastructure projects in the future.
The MTA needs to stop this project right now. Think it over, Prendergast.
You can take action on this issue by visiting the New York State AFL-CIO Facebook page and sharing one of their graphics to voice your opposition to this project.
Tags: china, Jobs, New York, outsourcing, steelworkers, unions
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shatters several bits of conventional wisdom embraced by the media and many in Washington, D.C., including the oft-repeated Republican mantra that lower corporate taxes boost the economy. The analysis found no evidence that changes in the statutory or effective tax rate on corporations are correlated with economic growth.
The report also finds that:
- The corporate tax rate in the United States is not high compared to other countries. While it is true that the United States has the highest tax rate on paper, because of loopholes in the system, including offshoring, few companies pay that rate. The effective corporate tax rate of 27.7% is close to the average of the wealthy countries that are comparable to the United States, with those countries averaging 27.2%.
- The current tax rate in the United States is not high compared to historical levels. The current statutory rate of 35% is lower than the rate of over 50% that was statutory in the 1950s.
- The current rate, either statutory or effective, is not impeding corporate profits. Both before-tax and after-tax corporate profits are at post-World War II highs as a percentage of national income.
The report’s author, Thomas L. Hungerford, argues that the current focus in policy and media circles makes little sense:
Given widespread concerns about federal budget deficits, it seems odd to call for tax changes that lower rates. The putative impetus for these calls is the belief that the statutory corporate income tax rate is too high—placing an excessive burden on U.S. corporations that leads to poor economic performance.
Read the full report.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Corporate Accountability, Jobs, outsourcing, taxes
We had some good news for American workers out of Colorado last Friday. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) signed House Bill 1292, the “Keep Jobs in Colorado Act” into law.
This marked the successful conclusion to a two-year campaign waged by Working America, the Colorado AFL-CIO, and numerous other pro-worker organizations in the Centennial State.
It’s exactly the kind of bill that states should be passing.
When they assign projects, under the new law state agencies must take into consideration a contractor’s labor practices – wages, benefits, how they treat their workers – not just cost of the bid.
Plus, state-funded construction projects have to have at least 80 percent Colorado workers. Makes sense, right? Colorado projects should have Colorado workers? That requirement has been on the books for 80 years, but finally it has teeth – now there are penalties for contractors that don’t follow it.
A similar bill was first brought up in 2012. Since that time, Working America members and organizers had over 13,000 conversations, wrote over 1,000 handwritten letters, and collected over 1,300 petition signatures in communities around Colorado.
This is the type of commonsense legislation we hope to see elsewhere. Taxpayer funds should be used to hire local workers at good wages by contractors with good labor practices. Why Republicans in the legislature opposed this bill for two years is baffling, but thanks to the Colorado AFL-CIO working with pro-worker legislators and the advocacy of thousands of Coloradoans like you, it’s finally the law of the land.
Image by SenatorMikeJohnston on Flickr.
Tags: Colorado, insourncing, Jobs, John Hickenlooper, outsourcing
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Thanks to what Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller calls a “historic, robust bipartisan effort,” the Texas Legislature approved on Monday a “Buy American” provision for water projects that establishes a preference for iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States. Says Moeller:
For the first time in memory, Texas, under this legislation, will give strong priority to American goods and products in the course of major construction projects. The Texas Legislature deserves high commendation from working families for sending a message that buying American creates jobs. This bill will benefit our economy.
The Buy American provision included a major water development bill (H.B. 4) and includes a requirement that iron and steel products and manufactured goods used in the project be produced in the United States. The bill received overwhelming support, passing 141-4 in the House and 30-1 in the Senate.
Earlier in the session lawmakers approved a “Buy Texan, Buy American” bill that applies to state purchases of manufactured goods. Texas AFL-CIO Communications Director Ed Sills says both bills ”have the potential to create jobs in Texas and in the U.S.”
The labor movement has always been about good jobs. In a legislative session that had the look of potential disaster on several fronts at the start, seeing two “Buy American” ideas succeed in bipartisan fashion is a signal accomplishment that is at the core of what we do.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is expected to sign the bill.
Tags: aflcio, buy american, insourcing, Jobs, outsourcing, Texas
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Current laws in the United States allow corporations to use offshore havens to avoid paying their taxes and, if it’s up to many in Washington, the problem will only grow larger, particularly if the so-called “territorial” tax system is passed. The details of the use of such tax havens were discussed in a conference call with Campaign for America’s Future (CAF), Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).
Current tax laws encourage the offshoring of America’s jobs, manufacturing and profit centers, which has led to the hollowing out of the middle class, manufacturing and much of the country, according to Dave Johnson of CAF. Changes in the tax code in recent decades have led to a series of dangerous statistics for America’s working families:
- Corporate tax revenues as a share of GDP are at near historically low levels.
- In 2009, the U.S. share of GDP made up of corporate tax revenues was only 1.7%.
- The top corporate tax rate in 1970 was 52.8%, now it is 35% (although the effective rate is much lower).
- The United States has the third-lowest effective corporate tax burden in the world.
- Corporate taxation as a share of total tax revenue was 26.4% in 1950 and was down to 7.4% in 2010.
- Personal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes were 51.4% of total tax revenue in 1950, now they are up to 83.4%.
Congress is now proposing lowering corporate taxes even more and even, possibly, eliminating taxes on earnings reported as having been earned outside the country.
ATF has been working to highlight the massive corporate tax loopholes big corporations exploit, says the organization’s campaign manager, Frank Clemente. Those loopholes allow some corporations, such as General Electric—who had an effective corporate tax rate of 12% in 2011—to pay less in taxes than individuals. There are currently $1.6 trillion in corporate revenues waiting offshore. The corporations who own those revenues want Congress to pass a new tax holiday (previous holidays taxed those profits at only 5%, instead of the standard corporate tax rate) or a territorial tax system, wherein U.S. corporations would pay no taxes on foreign profits. Clemente says that would create an incentive for corporations to ship more and more revenues overseas, as well as shipping manufacturing, patents and jobs to countries with no corporate taxes.
CTJ works to give ordinary people a greater voice in the development of tax laws. It focuses on exposing corporations that pay little or no taxes. CTJ argued that the tax code needs to be reformed, but in a way that ends incentives to shift profits and jobs offshore. Currently, corporations have heavy incentives to disguise U.S. profits as offshore profits to avoid paying taxes.
An example of this problem is a report from the Congressional Research Service that found in 2008 that American multinational corporations reported earning 43% of their $940 billion in foreign profits in five tiny tax-haven countries that house only 4% of their foreign workforce and 7% of their foreign investments.
The three organizations say they have three basic policies they favor to deal with tax havens and the offshoring of America’s profits and jobs.
- Rejecting revenue-neutral tax plans that close loopholes and lower statutory tax rates. Instead they favor revenue-positive tax proposals that would increase government revenue.
- Closing tax loopholes that encourage the offshoring of profits, and making sure foreign profits for U.S. corporations are taxed at the same rate as domestic profits. One example of legislation that would accomplish this is a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt,), the Corporate Tax Fairness Act, that would require corporations to pay the same tax rate on domestic or foreign profits and would raise $590 billion over 10 years.
- Rejecting the territorial tax system, which they call “tax havens on steroids.”
Tags: aflcio, ceo, CEO Pay, inequality, Jobs, outsourcing, tax fairness, taxes
Throughout August, the Working America Greensboro office has been working hard to hold North Carolina Sensators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr accountable for their recent votes on outsourcing and middle-class tax cuts.
Over the past few weeks, Working America has gathered more than 400 petition signatures urging Senator Burr to stop supporting companies that outsource jobs and to call for an end to tax breaks for the richest 2 percent of Americans.
Working America member Sarah Baldwin describes why outsourcing is detrimental to North Carolina: “High Point has been hit hard by outsourcing, affecting many workers. With loss jobs, people loss income, health care coverage and sometimes even their homes. Senator Burr’s vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act shows he is not looking out for the average person.”
Added Scott Gillentine of Winston-Salem: “North Carolina has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. Please explain to me, Senator Burr, why there are tax cuts on the wealthy when so few jobs have been created by them?”
Yesterday, Working America teamed up with the AFL-CIO and progressive allies to deliver the petitions to Senator Burr’s office. Everyone was excited to collaborate and to ensure that Senator Burr looks out for the interest of his middle class constituents.
Earlier in the day, Senator Kay Hagan received thank you letters from working families expressing their gratitude for her votes to end outsourcing and end tax subsidies for the richest Americans.
Tags: Jobs, North Carolina, outsourcing
Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog
Although Mitt Romney continues to try and distance himself from his record of offshoring U.S. jobs overseas during his tenure at Bain Capital, a newreport by the Financial Times’ Robin Harding shows there were even more anti-worker tactics occurring under Romney’s watch at the company. Now we might understand more about why he boasted earlier this year that he’s “taken on union bosses before.”
According to the U.S. District Court and federal documents, Key Airlines, controlled by Bain Capital at the time, ran an unlawful campaign to stop the organization of a union in the 1980s. Mitt Romney was a director of the airline, according to regulatory filings, and a shareholder in the company. The Financial Times put together this report with documents from the National Mediation Board in 1986 and a 1992 judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Financial Times reports:
Key Airlines, an early investment for the private equity firm founded by a young Mitt Romney and two associates, broke the law by attempting to coerce and then dismiss two pilots who tried to organize a union. Two months after a union vote failed, Bain agreed to sell Key Airlines at a large profit in 1986.
Those two Key Airlines pilots later brought the union suppression case to court. In 1992, Roger Foley, federal judge for the District of Nevada, wrote:
The anti-union activities in this case are not merely unfair labor practices as Key argues, but blatant, grievous, willful, deliberate and repeated violations of the Railway Labor Act.
According to the Financial Times:
Key Airlines was a small charter carrier with a military contract to ferry personnel to bases in the Nevada desert. The union effort was suppressed under Bain’s ownership in 1985 and 1986, although a court judgment against the company and its management—including Bain Capital founding partner T. Coleman Andrews III—did not come until 1992. The judgment was later qualified by a subsequent court ruling in 1994, together with an agreement to settle an appeal.
Citing safety concerns in 1985, Key Airlines pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers planned to organize a union.
Financial Times reports management began to coerce the pilots after they heard a union was forming:
According to the court ruling, Key held coercive meetings with pilots; said management would leave and the company lose contracts; and told pilots that salaries, bonuses and benefits could be frozen. Federal labor law forbids an airline “to interfere in any way with the organization of its employees.”
Although outsourcer-in-chief Mitt Romney would like us to believe he invested in companies that created U.S. jobs, his record of shipping jobs overseas at Bain Capital speaks for itself.
Now, we have suppressing workers’ right to collectively bargain to the long list of anti-worker tactics Romney and Bain Capital employed.
Read more on Key Airlines here.
Tags: Jobs, Mitt Romney, outsourcing, Rights At Work
With 16,000 members and growing, Working America is ready to make an impact in the 2012 elections for North Carolina working families.
A story in The Nation by Ari Berman details the political dynamics of North Carolina, and asks if President Obama can win the state like he did in 2012. While that’s difficult to predict, one thing is clear: North Carolinans are tired of corporations getting tax breaks to send their jobs offshore, and they are tired of politicians who campaigned on job creation but then ignored the state’s jobs crisis once in office.
There’s no question that Mitt Romney and his fellow partisans fit that bill: Mitt Romney, the Republican standard-bearer for President, is no stranger to outsourcing. And Republican Senator Richard Burr voted just this past July to filibuster (or, “avoid talking about”) the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would’ve ended those tax break for companies who move jobs overseas. (The other North Carolina Senator, Democrat Kay Hagan, strongly supported the bill.)
Berman tagged along with one of our canvassers one evening:
Working America signs up “working-class moderates” who don’t have a union job but respond favorably to a populist economic message. Organizers do this the old-fashioned way: knocking on door after door…
We talked to housewives, truck drivers, teachers, cashiers, construction workers and nurses. Jobs and healthcare were the main concerns. Brandon [the canvasser] told them about the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would end tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas. “We’re out here today to keep good jobs in North Carolina, not send them abroad,” he said during his pitch. The issue of outsourcing could play a decisive role in the campaign. “North Carolinians are folks who have read over and over and over again about their textile jobs and other manufacturing jobs going overseas,” Farinella says. “So it is my expectation that this issue of Romney’s role in Bain Capital—and the notion that Bain shipped jobs overseas—is likely to resonate in North Carolina to a greater extent than it even resonates nationally.”
Since the beginning of the year, Working America in North Carolina has swelled to over 16,000 members. We’re going to be pounding the pavement, educating voters about how their politicians have acted – or not acted – to get folks employed and keep jobs from leaving the country.
To get involved with Working America in North Carolina, sign up here or call our Greensboro office at (336) 288-4970.
Tags: Jobs, Mitt Romney, North Carolina, outsourcing