Labor and Employment

To keep manufacturing an engine of the economy, we need labor policies that support flexibility and innovation.

Press Releases

Manufacturers: Unprecedented Use of CERCLA Authority Will Hamper President’s Manufacturing Vision

Washington, D.C. – Following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule designating perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, also known as PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA, as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, National Association of Manufacturers Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram released the following statement:

“Manufacturers support efforts to mitigate harmful chemicals from impacting our environment and the health of our nation, but this unprecedented use of CERCLA authority by the EPA will only hamper President Biden’s vision of growing the manufacturing sector in the U.S. The unique and unmatched chemical bond of these compounds means that there are no existing replacements for the critical products they make up.

“The NAM is not opposed to commonsense regulations of PFAS chemicals, and manufacturers are committed to environmental stewardship, while recognizing in many cases we will need to continue to use these chemicals for the foreseeable future. However, designating these compounds as hazardous substances is a blunt, overreaching decision that will make it harder for our industry to create innovative products and jobs.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Input Stories

FTC to Unveil, Vote on Noncompete Ban Next Week

The Federal Trade Commission will vote next week on the final version of a rule that would prohibit noncompete agreements between employers and their employees, Law360 (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “According to the FTC’s announcement, the agency’s five commissioners will vote April 23 on whether to ‘authorize public disclosure of the proposed final rule,’ first unveiled in draft form in January 2023. Assuming a vote in the affirmative, staffers will give a presentation on the rule, followed by a second vote to issue the rule in its final form.”

  • The agency did not indicate which, if any, changes it has made to the previous version of the rule.
  • The FTC received more than 26,000 comments on the rule during the 90-day public comment period.

Why it’s important: A noncompete ban would cause disruption to the majority of manufacturing operations in the U.S., a 2023 NAM survey found.

  • Some 70% of manufacturers in the U.S. use noncompete agreements, and they do so to safeguard intellectual property, sales information, industrial processes and business strategies.
  • Approximately 66% of survey respondents—representing manufacturers of all sizes—said a ban would interfere with their operations.
  • Around 50% of those polled said a ban would have a negative effect on their investment in employee training programs.

The NAM says: “The FTC’s proposed rule severely threatens manufacturers’ ability to protect intellectual property and responsibly invest in their employees,” said NAM Director of Transportation, Infrastructure and Labor Policy Max Hyman.

  • “The NAM remains engaged on this critical issue for our members and will weigh our options in response to the commission’s vote next week.”
Input Stories

Manufacturers Face Significant Cost Increases if Tax Bill Fails


U.S. manufacturers and other businesses are sharing the details of the potential economic fallout if Congress fails to pass NAM-supported, pro-growth tax legislation, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “[L]arge public companies say the law as it stands is costing them hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, while some owners of small and medium-sized businesses say they wonder if their firms will survive.”

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allowed manufacturers across the U.S. to expand their businesses, hire and purchase new, much-needed equipment. But in 2022 and 2023, three critical provisions from the law—immediate expensing for domestic research and development, enhanced interest deductibility and full expensing—expired, hurting businesses of all sizes.
  • In January, the House passed the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act, which would reinstate all three measures. The NAM has been pushing the Senate to pass the legislation, too.

Why it’s important: Lift truck and solutions manufacturer Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc. “spends around $100 million a year on R&D, and the law change that went into effect in 2022 increased its tax bill by about $25 million a year.”

  • “So that’s $25 million less that I have to invest back into my business, whether it’s R&D, whether it’s plants and equipment [or] hiring new people,” Chief Financial Officer Scott Minder told the Journal.
  • Other companies say the lack of action on the House-cleared tax bill “may prompt reduced investment in other areas and increase the rate of return required for new projects.”

Weighing a move: Hyster-Yale—which “spends around 80% of its research budget in the U.S.”—would like to keep its operations in the U.S., Minder continued, but it can’t guarantee that it will continue to do so without the return of the expired TCJA tax provisions.

  • Other manufacturers are reporting a similar predicament.

​​​​​​​The last word: “The stakes are clear: Congress must pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act or risk significant economic damage across the manufacturing sector,” said NAM Vice President of Domestic Policy Charles Crain.

  • “Manufacturers are depending on Congress to restore these pro-growth tax policies, which support the investments in R&D and capital equipment that are so critical for manufacturing growth.”
Input Stories

U.S. Industrial Production Rises

U.S. industrial production increased modestly in March, in keeping with economist forecasts, according to baha.

What’s going on: “Industrial production in the United States rose by 0.4% in March after increasing 0.1% in the previous month, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors stated in its report published on Tuesday.”

The details: Manufacturing output increased 0.5% on a monthly basis and 0.8% on an annual basis. It rose 1.2% in February.

  • Mining declined 1.4% in March and 2.0% year on year.
  • The utilities index grew 2.0% for the month but declined 3.1% year on year.

Capacity utilization: Capacity utilization—a measure of potential output—for the industrial sector as a whole increased to 78.4%, up from 78.2% in February but “1.2 percentage points below its long-run average.”

What it means: These data are among “signs that manufacturing is starting to pick up,” MarketWatch (subscription) reports.

  • “The S&P Global U.S. Manufacturing PMI has been in expansion territory for the past three months, and the ISM factory index was 50.3 in March, the first reading above the break-even level of 50 since September 2022.”
Policy and Legal

Manufacturer to Congress: Support the American Dream

a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie

Austin Ramirez is living proof that the American dream still works—when the right policies are in place.

The president and CEO of family-owned Husco, a Waukesha, Wisconsin-based, hydraulic and electromechanical control systems manufacturer, told lawmakers Thursday that his family was able to found and expand a successful business in large part thanks to pro-growth tax policies.

All in the family: “My dad came to the states from Puerto Rico as a 6-year-old and grew up to earn a master’s in aerospace engineering and a Harvard M.B.A.,” Ramirez said at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee.

  • “In short, our story is the embodiment of the American dream. But it was made possible by American reality—the laws that all of you write in this very room have a direct, concrete impact on our ability to succeed.”

Impact of expirations: The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made it possible for manufacturers across the country to invest in new equipment, pay for renovations and expansions, hire much-needed workers and more. It was “unquestionably a success,” according to Ramirez.

  • But the 2022 and 2023 expiration of three manufacturing-critical tax provisions in the legislation—immediate expensing for domestic research and development, enhanced interest deductibility and full expensing, which the NAM has been urging legislators to reinstate—has already hit Ramirez’s business, and hard.
  • “Husco now has to amortize our R&D expenses, making it far more costly for us to design customized, proprietary products for our customers,” Ramirez went on. “Debt financing is now more expensive … [a]nd we can no longer immediately expense the full cost of our capital equipment purchases, forcing [us] to make smaller investments, spread out over many years.”

More tax increases coming: Ramirez also highlighted the TCJA provisions that are set to expire next year and the economic damage the expiration would cause.

  • “At the end of 2025, individual tax rates will increase and individual tax brackets will decrease,” he said. “These changes mean that pass-through businesses like Husco will have more of our income subject to a higher rate of tax. At the same time, the pass-through deduction will expire completely, doubling down on the tax hikes that we face. … [A]llowing tax reform to sunset will undermine much of the progress we’ve made since 2017.”

What must happen: Ramirez thanked the committee for passing the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act—and reminded them of work still to be done.

  • “Congress must act now to restore expired provisions—and be prepared to act in 2025 to forestall even more damaging tax increases. Only by preserving the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can Congress ensure that uniquely America stories like Husco remain possible.” 
Input Stories

Senate Approves NLRB “Joint Employer” Repeal Proposal


The Senate this week approved a resolution to repeal the National Labor Relations Board joint employer rule, Reuters (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: In a 50–48 vote Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a Congressional Review Act resolution to block an NLRB “rule that would treat companies as the employers of many of their contract and franchise workers and require them to bargain with those workers’ unions.”

  • President Biden pledged to veto the resolution, which the House approved in January. A veto would send the measure back to Congress, where it appears to lack the necessary votes for an override.
  • The CRA “allows Congress to repeal agency rules through a majority vote in both houses.” The president must sign the resolution for it to take effect.
  • The rule was scheduled to go into effect in February but was blocked by a federal judge in Texas. The NLRB is considering options in response to the decision.

What it would do: “The rule would treat companies as ‘joint employers’ of contract and franchise workers when they have control over key working conditions such as pay, scheduling, discipline and supervision, even if that control is indirect or not exercised.”

Why it would be problematic: The NLRB requirement would lead to confusion about which businesses should be considered employers, “disrupting franchising and routine contracting arrangements,” according to another Reuters article.

The NAM says: The joint employer rule would “harm manufacturers at a time when they need the flexibility and contingency offered through temporary and contract workers to best manage supply chain impacts, demand for manufactured products and other inflationary challenges,” the NAM told the NLRB in December.

Input Stories

Producer Prices Increase Less Than Expected

Prices paid by businesses to goods and services producers in the U.S. rose by slightly less than anticipated in March, according to Investing.com.

What’s going on: “The producer price index for final demand rose 0.2% last month, after rising by 0.6% in February, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said. Economists had expected the PPI to gain 0.3%. In the 12 months through January, the PPI increased 2.1%, below the 2.2% expected, after climbing 1.6% in February.”

  • “Core” PPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.2% on the month, for an annual increase of 2.4%.
  • The data comes just a day after the release of a higher-than-anticipated consumer price index for last month.

The details: Services inflation stayed elevated, with a gain of 0.3% in prices in March, Barron’s reports.

  • Goods prices, however, edged down 0.1%.
  • A 1.6% decline in energy prices made up much of March’s overall decrease and outweighed a 0.8% increase in food prices.

Why it’s important: The news may mean an interest-rate cut from the Federal Reserve will come later than previously thought.

Press Releases

Manufacturers: Complex EPA Rule Will Disrupt Manufacturing Supply Chain

Washington, D.C. – Following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent rulemaking regarding limitations on emissions of ethylene oxide, National Association of Manufacturers Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram released the following statement:

“While the EPA listened to some of manufacturers’ concerns, such as allowing more time for companies throughout the supply chain to assess the impact on their operations, the rulemaking adds to the ongoing regulatory onslaught our industry has been facing.

“The agency’s decision to maintain the fenceline monitoring schedule at every five days for ethylene oxide creates a significant compliance burden for manufacturers, and the rule’s mandate that operations are completely shut down when small repairs are required will impact manufacturers’ ability to maintain consistent operations. The potential disruption to supply chains could make it more difficult to create jobs in communities across the country.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Input Stories

Consumer Prices Increased in March


Prices paid by consumers for goods and services rose last month, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: The consumer price index, “a broad measure of goods and services costs across the economy, rose 0.4% for the month, putting the 12-month inflation rate at 3.5%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 0.3% gain and a 3.4% year-over-year level.”

  • March’s seasonally adjusted CPI increase was the same as February’s.

Core CPI: Core CPI, which excludes often volatile food and energy costs, also increased 0.4% on a monthly basis.

  • Core CPI for March was 3.8% higher than it was in March 2023.

Why it’s important: CPI is the most widely used measure of inflation, and these data “indicat[e] that inflation is staying stubbornly higher and likely keeping the Federal Reserve on hold with interest rates.”

Workforce

Study: Manufacturing in U.S. Could Need Up to 3.8 Million Workers

The U.S. manufacturing industry could require some 3.8 million jobs to be filled within the next decade, according to a new joint study from the Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501c3 workforce development and education affiliate, and Deloitte.

What’s going on: Taking charge: Manufacturers support growth with active workforce strategies” found that manufacturing in the U.S. has emerged from the global pandemic on strong footing and is likely to continue to grow in the next few years.

  • That growth will call for even more skilled workers—particularly statisticians, data scientists, logisticians, engineers, computer and information systems managers, software developers and industrial maintenance technicians—spotlighting the need to build the national talent pipeline.
  • “Pandemic-driven shifts have already created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and now we are seeing increased demand for digital skills that need to be met or risk further widening of the talent gap,” said Manufacturing Institute President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee.

Key findings: Top takeaways from the report include:

  • If workforce challenges are not addressed, more than 1.9 million of the up to 3.8 million jobs likely to be needed between this year and 2033 could go unfilled.
  • Some 65% of manufacturers polled said attracting and retaining talent is their primary business challenge.
  • About 90% said they are forming at least one partnership to better attract and retain employees, and on average they have at least four such partnerships.
  • Approximately 47% indicated that apprenticeships, work study programs or internships at manufacturing companies would be the most effective way of increasing interest in the industry.
  • Some 47% also said flexible work arrangements—such as flex shifts, shift swapping and split shifts—have been their top retention tool.

The bottom line: Manufacturers continue to face a talent shortage—and the MI has the initiatives and resources ready today to help manufacturers address these challenges.

  • From the recent flexibility white paper—which explains how manufacturers can build and deploy flexibility options for the 49% of workers that are on the production teams—to the high school internship toolkit that allows manufacturers to start a recruiting pipeline in high schools, to the FAME USA apprenticeship program training global best multi-skilled maintenance technicians and more, the MI has solutions to the hurdles highlighted in this study. Learn more at themanufacturinginstitute.org.
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