‘Buy America’ Puts People to Work
A new report presents clear evidence that including Buy America provisions in last year’s stimulus package has created jobs and makes the case that the rules should be strengthened in jobs legislation being considered on Capitol Hill.
The 17-page report, “Buy America Works,” by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), highlights success stories showing how Buy America provisions have benefited U.S. companies. Like United Streetcar in Oregon, that is manufacturing the first U.S.-made streetcars in 60 years and supporting a supply chain across the nation. Or Arcelor Mittal in Pennsylvania, that is building rail tracks for southeastern Pennsylvania.
Earlier this week, AAM field staff converged on Capitol Hill to urge their lawmakers to maintain and enhance Buy America requirements in jobs legislation now before the Senate, where some Republicans want to weaken the rules.
Says AAM Executive Director Scott Paul:
It would be foolish to dilute or eliminate Buy America rules at such a critical time for our workers and economy. The wind farms, bridges, and new schools of America should be made in America. We urge Congress to incorporate strong Buy America rules to ensure that tax dollars are invested in communities all over our nation.
Polls show 86 percent of Americans support requirements for American-made materials in all federally funded infrastructure investment. More than 500 local, state and municipal governments have passed “Buy America” measures.
Writing on Daily Kos, The Electrical Worker points out that if the Senate passes the jobs legislation with strong Buy America provisions, one of the beneficiaries could be members of the independent United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 506 in Erie, Pa., who perform electrical maintenance and large-scale projects in the 100 year-old locomotive manufacturing plant owned by GE Transportation. Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 56 also performs electrical maintenenace at the plant.
The bill includes $800 million for modernizing Amtrak’s fleet. The House jobs bill strengthens “Buy American” language which could help GE to land work in the factory which cut 1,500 jobs last September.
The United States also should have its own “Buy America” program for federal procurements, which represent 20 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product. Writing in a special report by The American Prospect magazine on American manufacturing, the authors point out that the United States is the only nation among the G-20 not to have a significant “buy domestic” procurement program:
…yet no single economic stimulus initiative would do more to resuscitate U.S. employment and reduce our massive trade deficit. In May, China, which is by far the single largest importer of goods to the U.S., confirmed its policy of 100 percent domestic procurement. We should call our new comparable requirement the “U.S. Domestic Investment Act.”
Check out this special edition, “Made In America: Reviving American Manufacturing (before it’s too late),” here. It examines the causes of the decline in manufacturing and how we can rebuild our economy by investing in making products in America. It also includes key insights from United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and Machinists President Tom Buffenbarger and economists Robert Kuttner and Jeff Faux.