WASHINGTON – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined 21 of his colleagues to launch a campaign to get Washington to refocus on manufacturing jobs. The Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative aims to build bipartisan support for legislation that will modernize America’s manufacturing sector, help American manufacturers grow and create jobs, and assist American workers in getting the skills to succeed in the next generation of manufacturing jobs. Together, the lawmakers have contributed 40 bills — many with bipartisan support — to the effort around four organizing principles:
- Strengthening America’s 21st century workforce
- Opening markets abroad
- Creating the conditions necessary for growth
- Expanding access to capital
“A living wage job is the best possible foundation for a family,” Merkley said. “The tax and trade policies of the last few decades have shipped millions of jobs overseas and have been terrible for Oregon’s working families. Washington can and should do a lot to expand manufacturing, because if we don’t build things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America.”
The initiative’s focus on manufacturing reflects the sector’s reputation for providing high-quality jobs that lead to gains throughout the economy. Workers in manufacturing jobs earn 22 percent more in annual pay and benefits than the average worker in other industries, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Every new manufacturing job created adds another 1.6 jobs to the local service economy, and for every dollar in manufacturing sales, another $1.34 is added to the economy. Investments in manufacturing have a stronger impact than investments in any other economic sector.
The package of bills includes two bills written by Merkley: the BUILD Career and Technical Education Act, which would support career and technical education in middle schools and high schools; and the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act, which would provide competitive grants to states to fund new or expanded industrial energy efficiency financing programs.
“The Manufacturing Jobs for America initiative that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies in energy, tax, regulatory and workforce policy and other areas has the potential to provide a critical path towards bipartisan agreement on issues facing manufacturers and their employees,” National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons said. “The manufacturing sector is still struggling to recover from the 2.3 million jobs lost during the difficult recession of 2008 and 2009. While 500,000 jobs have since been created, we still have a long road to travel. A growth agenda, that includes some of the bills that are part of the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort, is key to creating an environment that encourages job creation.”
“The AFL-CIO applauds the Senate Democrats for pulling together this broad legislative package to support domestic manufacturing,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “This is an example of the results-oriented approach Congress should be taking to invest in growth and create jobs, rather than engaging in divisive ideological campaigns. We strongly support many of the themes that run through these bills, including action on currency manipulation and evasion of import duties, measures to increase the reshoring of production, more resources for skills and training, improved access to capital, help for start-ups, and domestic content requirements for government purchases. We look forward to working with the Senate to enact much of this legislation. The manufacturing sector in the United States has finally begun to heal, but we must create the conditions for a long-term recovery. A comprehensive approach like this one can move us a long way in that direction.”
In addition to Senator Merkley, senators contributing policy to the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign include Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
In addition to the National Association of Manufacturers and AFL-CIO, Manufacturing Jobs for America has earned the support of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; American Automotive Policy Council; American Small Manufacturers Coalition; Association for Manufacturing Technology; Bloom Energy; BlueGreen Alliance; Dow; DuPont; Ford Motor Company; General Electric; the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; National Association of Development Organizations; National Skills Coalition; One Voice – National Tool & Machining Association, and Precision Metalforming Association; Progressive Policy Institute; STEM Education Coalition; Third Way; the United Autoworkers; and the United Steelworkers.
For a full list of the legislation included in Manufacturing Jobs for America, go to http://coons.senate.gov/manufacturing.