Labor and Business Leaders, Economists, National and Local Officials Call on Washington to “Keep It Made in America”
Teach-In Showcases National Economics and “Home Economics;” Stories from 11-State Bus Tour on the Future of 7.2 million Auto-Related Jobs in America
Washington, D.C. (May 14, 2009) – From May 11 to May 14, thousands of workers whose paychecks are tied to the U.S. auto industry joined bus tours through 11 states to showcase the ripple effect of economic devastation and lost jobs in industries ranging from steel and paper to shops on Main Street and public education. For highlights from the 11-state bus tour, visit www.madeinamericatour.org.
On Tuesday, May 19, from 9 a.m.–1:15 p.m. in Room HVC 215 of the Capitol Visitors Center, national economists, labor and business leaders, members of Congress, local elected officials and everyday workers will bring those stories to Washington and present principles for revitalizing the auto industry by supporting American jobs and communities. The first panel begins with MSNBC’s Ed Schultz moderating a discussion featuring Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers, Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co., and Dr. Susan Helper, Case Western Reserve University professor of economics. Labor and business leaders as well as elected officials and workers will participate in additional panels examining the auto supply chain and the government’s response.
U.S. auto manufacturing impacts millions more workers than those on assembly lines. Millions of workers depend on auto manufacturing companies as customers—in 19 U.S. states auto supply manufacturing is either the top or among the top five industrial employers—and millions more depend on auto workers as customers in their stores and restaurants. Local governments depend on income tax and property tax from middle-class families to pay for education, health and safety services. To learn more about how the auto manufacturing industry impacts local communities, visit www.americanmanufacturing.org and www.usw.org.
Recognizing the consequences that U.S. auto manufacturing has on communities across America, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, United Steelworkers and Mayors and Municipalities Coalition are presenting Congress and the administration with principles for revitalizing the auto and auto parts manufacturing sectors, and driving economic activity beyond the assembly line floor:
- Stimulate domestic demand for automobiles, such as an incentive program like cash-for-clunkers with a strong domestic content requirement and restoring credit for consumers and businesses.
- Only risk American tax dollars to support domestic jobs, investment and innovation, and reject off-shoring as a path to profitability for GM and Chrysler.
- Restore cooperative innovation and research and development efforts. A National Automotive Research and Development Program, for example, could provide incentives for companies to create programs that lead to better, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles—built domestically.
- Change health care policy to eliminate structural problems for the domestic auto industry. The Big Three’s foreign competitors benefit from either national health care plans or through offering substandard benefits.
- Ensure trade policy promotes U.S. interests. The U.S. imports $41.5
billion in cars and light trucks from Japan and $7.5 billion for Korea,
while we export only $534 million and $373 million respectively. We must
address non-tariff barriers to trade in these markets, end
currency misalignment and aggressively enforce our trade laws to eliminate unfair trade practices.
Additional panel guests and speakers include: auto supply workers, auto dealers and workers from the bus tour as well as Tom Conway, United Steelworkers international vice president; Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing executive director; Mayor Virg Bernero (Lansing, Mich.); City Manager Peter Auger (Auburn Hills, Mich.); Mayor Kevin Wixom (Hinkley, Mich.); Major Charles Brunner (Bay City, Mich.); Mayor Marlene Anielski (Walkton Hills, Ohio); Mayor Katherine Procop (Twinsburg, Ohio); and Mayor Michael Dinwiddie (Spring Hill, Tenn.).
Leo W. Gerard, USW international president said, “Traveling around the country last week, we heard from laid-off people in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who desperately want to go back to work making auto parts. They are angry that their tax dollars might be used to export jobs. In Granite City, Illinois, a fourth-generation restaurant owner agonized over the thought that he may not be able to hand down his diner to his baby girl because local plant closings have hurt his business. All over the country workers on and off the assembly line are counting on our leaders to recognize that there’s much more at stake than profits. Saving the auto industry is about 7.2 million people, their families and their communities. Our teach-in aims to bring this message to Washington—that this is America’s fight, and a strong domestic auto industry matters to all of us.”