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Made in USA Reports July 2014: Vol. 26, No. 7

Made in the USA Reports 

A Publication of the Made in the USA Foundation

Vol. 26 No. 7 © Made in the USA Foundation–July, 2014


Made in the USA Foundation Announces The 2014 Hall of Fame Winners

The Made in the USA Foundation announced its 2014 Made in the USA Hall of Fame Winners on July 5th.

The Foundation always includes automobile categories because they represent a large part of the U.S. trade imbalance.  General Motors, despite many recall issues, won two awards for best luxury cars, Cadillac (CTS, ATS and ELR) and best sports car, Chevy Corvette.  Ford won the truck award for the F-150 for its new dynamic aluminum body.

Other winners included Weathertech Car Mats, Shinola Watches and Element Television, the only U.S. manufacturer of flat-screen televisions. Weathertech makes precision car mats for all makes and models.  Shinola is manufacturing watches and bicycles in the motor city.

Walmart won an award for Coming Back to America for its $250 billion program to source American-made goods. Boston Consulting Group won an award for its reports promoting Made in the USA manufacturing.

Six established companies who stayed in the USA even though their competition fled the country include Ping Golf Clubs, Bunn Coffeemakers, Seventh Generation, Libman Company, Peterboro Baskets and Alden Shoes. PING is a family-owned company founded in 1959 in the garage of Karsten Solheim.Abo

BUNN was founded in 1957 and developed the first paper coffee filter for commercial use. Seventh Generation was founded in 1988 by Jeffrey Hollender and makes environmental conscious cleaning products.

Libman was founded as a broom manufacturer in 1896.

Peterboro has been making baskets in New Hampshire for 160 years, since 1854.

The Alden Shoe Company was founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden in Middleborough, Massachusetts.

J. Winery won an award for its J Pinot Grigio and sparkling wines. J Vineyards & Winery begins in 1986, when Judy Jordan followed her dream of starting a winery specializing in sparkling wine. A second-generation winemaker, her parents own the Jordan Winery.

Hubbarton Forge, a Vermont-based designer and manufacturer of hand-forged products, won the award for lighting fixtures. Rocky Mountain Hardware manufactures bronze hardware and plumbing fixtures in Idaho. Heath Ceramics manufactures hand-thrown pottery and ceramic tile in Sausalito, California.

Alex and Ani, based in Providence, Rhode Island, won the jewelry award for its innovative jewelry products.

Bailey 44 and All American Clothing Company won the apparel awards. Bailey 44 produces women’s clothing in Los Angeles. Lawson Nickol started the All American Clothing Company in 2002 in Arcanum, Ohio.

Steinway Pianos won an award for outstanding musical instruments. Since 1853, Steinway pianos have set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty, and investment value. Handcrafting each Steinway requires up to one full year – creating an instrument of rare quality and global renown. Not surprisingly, Steinway remains the choice of 9 out of 10 concert artists, and countless pianists, composers, and performers around the world.


Motorola is Planning to Close its New Texas Factory

Soon after China-based Lenovo purchased Motorola from Google, the company announced that it would be closing its Fort Worth, Texas factory by the end of this year. The factory opened in May of 2013 and currently has 700 employees. The Fort Worth, Texas-based factory was part of Motorola’s plan to build an American-made, low-cost smartphone.

The Texas factory is a joint venture with Flextronics. Flextronics, founded in 1969 in Silicon Valley, designs, manufactures and provides logistics services for hundreds of companies, including Motorola, and is reported to be second in size behind Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., or Foxconn Electronics, which makes products in China for Apple.

Flextronics spent spend $3.3 million to renovate the 470,000-square-foot facility.

The Foundation is organizing a campaign to keep the plant in business manufacturing cell phones for Motorola or for another company if that effort fails.  If you want to help with this project email Chairman@MadeUSAFdn.org.  See the next article.

The Manufacturing Community Bill of Rights

By Joel D. Joseph, Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation

In Europe it is very difficult for a manufacturer to close and plant and relocate it overseas.  The current American law on plant closings is weak.  It is called the WARN act, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. This act requires manufactures to give 60 days notice before closing a plant, but does not require anything more than notification.  I am proposing that the WARN act be amended by a new law with substantive rights for workers and the community where the factory is located.

Motorola just built a state-of-the-art cellphone factory in Ft. Worth, Texas.  However, Motorola was sold to China’s Lenovo and announced that that plant will be closing later this year.  A new amendment to the WARN statute would help keep this factory in operation, either as a Lenova factory, or as a factory making cellphones for another brand.

The Manufacturing Community Bill of Rights

Manufacturing Community Bill of Rights (MCBR), provides that there is a right of a community to keep a manufacturing plant intact. The law would provide that a manufacturer planning to move overseas would first have to give notice to its community, its state and its workers of its plans. The local and state government, and workers of the plant, would then have the right to purchase the plant within six months.

Current law requires this notification, but only provides for 60 days notice. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989. The Manufacturing Communities Bill of Rights is an amendment to the WARN law.

What WARN now does

WARN offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.

In general, employers are covered by WARN if they have 100 or more employees, not counting employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months and not counting employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week. Private, for-profit employers and private, nonprofit employers are covered, as are public and quasi-public entities which operate in a commercial context and are separately organized from the regular government. Regular Federal, State, and local government entities which provide public services are not covered.

Employees entitled to notice under WARN include hourly and salaried workers, as well as managerial and supervisory employees. Business partners are not entitled to notice.

What Triggers Notice

Plant Closing: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period. This does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).

Mass Layoff: A covered employer must give notice if there is to be a mass layoff which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or for 50-499 employees if they make up at least 33% of the employer’s active workforce. Again, this does not count employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or employees who work an average of less than 20 hours a week for that employer. These latter groups, however, are entitled to notice (discussed later).

An employer also must give notice if the number of employment losses which occur during a 30-day period fails to meet the threshold requirements of a plant closing or mass layoff, but the number of employment losses for 2 or more groups of workers, each of which is less than the minimum number needed to trigger notice, reaches the threshold level, during any 90-day period, of either a plant closing or mass layoff. Job losses within any 90-day period will count together toward WARN threshold levels, unless the employer demonstrates that the employment losses during the 90-day period are the result of separate and distinct actions and causes.

MCBR Amendments to WARN

In addition to expanding the notice period to six months, the MCBR would provide for loan guarantees so that the community would have a realistic chance of acquiring manufacturing facilities. Most factories that are relocated offshore are still making a profit, just not enough profit to satisfy its multinational owners. Those not making a profit would have to develop a plan to return the plant to profitability, such as having the workers take less salary while receiving a share of ownership.

The MCBR would keep factories humming in the USA. First, the law would make it more expensive and risky to relocate. The law would also discourage factories from moving overseas because most companies do not want to turn their plant over to their workers to compete with their other factories.

Proposed Amendments

1.  Short Title.  This bill is called the Manufacturing Communities Bill of Rights.

2.  The WARN Act,  29 U.S.C. §§ 21012109, is hereby amended as follows:  2101(a) is hereby amended to delete “60 day period” and insert thereof, “six month period.

3.  A new section 2110 is added as follows:

All factory owners shall offer to sell a factory that is intended to be closed to either the workers in the factory or to the city, town, county or state in which the factory is situated.  If the factory owner refuses to sell the factory, the city, town, county or state shall have the right under this law to seize the factory and shall pay fair and reasonable compensation for it.

4.  The Small Business Administration shall insure and/or make loans for the purchase of factories that are purchased under section 3.

5.  Congress appropriates one billion dollars to be used to administer this program and to provide loans.

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