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Archive for the ‘Manufacturing’ Category

Manufacturing Fuels Growth of Robotics in Central Pennsylvania

Posted by carldavidson on October 28, 2017

Testing Robot at Pennsylvania Precision Cast Parts

By Kim Hart
Axios

Oct 11, 2017, YORK, Pa. — For decades, Rust Belt cities have been seen as decaying manufacturing centers struggling to reinvent themselves. Now, central Pennsylvania — comprised of the smaller cities of York, Lancaster and Harrisburg — is trying to leverage its long history of manufacturing as the foundation for a vibrant robotics hub.

Why it matters: President Trump made dwindling manufacturing jobs a big theme of the presidential election, blaming globalization for the losses. Now many fear that artificial intelligence-infused technologies and robots will kill even more legacy jobs. Some small and mid-sized cities are looking to use their mechanical backgrounds to their advantage.

Why we care: I visited these three cities as part of the “Rise of the Rest” tour led by Steve Case’s firm Revolution, which aims to draw attention to the cities between the coasts that don’t have the same access to capital and reputation for innovation as Silicon Valley, New York or Boston. Pennsylvania got about 1% of the nation’s venture capital last year, a number Case would like to see increase.

By the numbers: Today there are around 12 million manufacturing jobs nationwide, compared to 17 million manufacturing jobs in 2000, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. In the York area, 20% of the labor force works in manufacturing — twice the Pennsylvania and national average.

Factory history: The area has a long heritage of factories that crank out both sweets and pretzels. It’s known as the “Snack Capital” — it’s home to Hershey, Utz, York Peppermint Patties and Snyder’s of Hanover. And it’s a big producer of machinery, with Harley Davidson, BAE (which makes tanks) and Voith (which makes hydro turbines) all located here.

Pivot to robotics: A skilled workforce that knows how to work with their hands and tinker with machines is a great fit for building robots, says John McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, which is working on deploying “collaborative robots” (or “cobots”). He believes robots will work alongside humans rather than displace them completely.

The problem: Not enough workers — because people just aren’t enthusiastic about going into manufacturing. “There’s not a skills gap in manufacturing, there’s an interest gap,” McElligott said.

So he set out to nudge the next generation of workers in that direction by opening The Fortress, a robotics and artificial intelligence center in York that also houses a coding and robotics bootcamp.
He expects a “silver wave” of retiring baby boomer manufacturing workers — and their machinery expertise will be needed to train the next generation of robot-builders. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Economy, Manufacturing | Leave a Comment »

Bernie Sanders on Keeping Jobs: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump

Posted by carldavidson on December 1, 2016

We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.

By Bernie Sanders

Washington Post

December 1, 2016 – Today, about 1,000 Carrier workers and their families should be rejoicing. But the rest of our nation’s workers should be very nervous.

President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly announce a deal with United Technologies, the corporation that owns Carrier, that keeps less than 1,000 of the 2100 jobs in America that were previously scheduled to be transferred to Mexico. Let’s be clear: It is not good enough to save some of these jobs. Trump made a promise that he would save all of these jobs, and we cannot rest until an ironclad contract is signed to ensure that all of these workers are able to continue working in Indiana without having their pay or benefits slashed.

In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to “pay a damn tax.” He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?

In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country.

Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be re-evaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America.

Let’s be clear. United Technologies is not going broke. Last year, it made a profit of $7.6 billion and received more than $6 billion in defense contracts. It has also received more than $50 million from the Export-Import Bank and very generous tax breaks. In 2014, United Technologies gave its former chief executive Louis Chenevert a golden parachute worth more than $172 million. Last year, the company’s five highest-paid executives made more than $50 million. The firm also spent $12 billion to inflate its stock price instead of using that money to invest in new plants and workers.

Does that sound like a company that deserves more corporate welfare from our government? Trump’s Band-Aid solution is only making the problem of wealth inequality in America even worse.

I said I would work with Trump if he was serious about the promises he made to members of the working class. But after running a campaign pledging to be tough on corporate America, Trump has hypocritically decided to do the exact opposite. He wants to treat corporate irresponsibility with kid gloves. The problem with our rigged economy is not that our policies have been too tough on corporations; it’s that we haven’t been tough enough.

We need to re-instill an ethic of corporate patriotism. We need to send a very loud and clear message to corporate America: The era of outsourcing is over. Instead of offshoring jobs, the time has come for you to start bringing good-paying jobs back to America.

If United Technologies or any other company wants to keep outsourcing decent-paying American jobs, those companies must pay an outsourcing tax equal to the amount of money it expects to save by moving factories to Mexico or other low-wage countries.  They should not receive federal contracts or other forms of corporate welfare.  They must pay back all of the tax breaks and other corporate welfare they have received from the federal government. And they must not be allowed to reward their executives with stock options, bonuses or golden parachutes for outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries. I will soon be introducing the Outsourcing Prevention Act, which will address exactly that.

If Donald Trump won’t stand up for America’s working class, we must.

Posted in Economy, Manufacturing, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

Beaver County NAACP Prepares Black Workers for Employment at Proposed Shell plant

Posted by carldavidson on March 11, 2016

 

Old Horsehead Zinc, site of new Shell ‘Cracker’

By Jared Stonesifer

Beaver County Times

March 10, 2016 – MIDLAND — The Beaver County chapter of the NAACP wants to make sure the local black population isn’t left out of a potential economic explosion that would occur if Shell Chemicals builds a multibillion-dollar ethane cracker plant along the Ohio River.

The chapter is holding an event next week designed to prepare the local population for that possibility. The meeting will inform residents on what skills and qualifications they would need to be hired at the potential plant, while it will also inform them about the possibility of an array of opportunities if the plant comes here.

Shell, which continues work to remediate the old Horsehead Corp. site in Potter Township, has not made a final investment decision on the plant. But that hasn’t stopped local leaders from preparing in the event it does come here.

“There could be an (economic) explosion coming, and we want to make sure African-Americans are part of that explosion,” said Willie Sallis, president of the Beaver County NAACP.

The meeting will be held 5 p.m. Thursday at the American Legion at 800 Midland Ave. in Midland.

It will include representatives from Community College of Beaver County, Shell, Job Training for Beaver County, CareerLink and potentially a local politician, according to the NAACP.

Future meetings could be scheduled in other Beaver County locations in an attempt to galvanize as much of the population as possible.

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Posted in Fracking, Manufacturing, NAACP, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

Income Gap Widens as American Factories Shut Down: the Case of Reading, PA

Posted by carldavidson on June 16, 2014

Beaver County Blue via AP

June 15, 2014 – READING PA – In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars – David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker Corp., announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

The downfall of manufacturing in the United States has done more than displace workers and leave communities searching for ways to rebuild devastated economies. In Reading and other American factory towns, manufacturing’s decline is a key factor in the widening income gap between the rich and everyone else, as people like the Ludwigs have been forced into far lower-paying work.

It’s not that there’s a lack of jobs, but gains often come at either the highest end of the wage spectrum – or the lowest.

“A loss of manufacturing has contributed to the decline of the middle class,” said Howard Wial, an economist with the Brookings Institution and the University of Illinois at Chicago. “People who are displaced from high-paying manufacturing jobs spend a long time unemployed, and when they take other jobs, those jobs generally pay substantially less.”

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Posted in Economy, Manufacturing, Poverty, trade unions, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

The Top Secret Trade Deal You Need to Know About

Posted by carldavidson on November 2, 2013

Nov 1, 2013 – Secrets… The innocent lives lost in drone wars and the trade deal Washington and big business are trying to hide. From Bill Moyers’ show, ‘Moyers% Company’

Posted in fair trade, Manufacturing, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

The Blue-Green Alliance at Work at Lordstown, Ohio Plant

Posted by carldavidson on July 9, 2013

World’s Largest LED Retrofit Saves 80% For GM, Sets Positive Energy Example

By Tina Casey
Beaver County Blue via Clean Technica

July 9, 2013 – GM’s clean tech cred is pretty well established in the public eye through its popular Chevy Volt, and the company is no slouch behind the factory gates, either. At its Lordstown complex in Ohio, GM can now lay claim to the world’s largest LED retrofit project of its kind. The project involves more than 1,600 fixtures so far with another 4,000 set for installation this summer, and it has already reduced energy consumption by more than 80 percent at one factory in the complex. That’s partly because the LEDs themselves are more efficient and partly because the new fixtures incorporate some advanced energy management bells and whistles.

New GM LED lighting by ALLED (cropped) courtesy of GM.

The World’s Largest LED Retrofit

Aside from that impressive savings of more than 80 percent (which translates into about $780,000 per year), this project caught our eye because it was implemented by the Ellwood City, Pennsylvania LED specialist ALLED Lighting Systems, Inc., formerly known as Appalachian Lighting Systems.

CleanTechnica first noticed the company under its former name back in 2010, when it performed an enormous LED retrofit for Pittsburgh International Airport. At the time, it was the largest project of its kind in the US. The project was noteworthy not only due to its size but because of the company’s potential for creating new green jobs in its tiny home town.

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Posted in Green Energy, Infrastructure, Manufacturing | Leave a Comment »

Micro Manufacturing, Third Wave Style…Perfect for Worker Coops?

Posted by carldavidson on April 24, 2013

In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New BitsPhoto: Dan Winters

By Chris Anderson

SolidarityEconomy.net via Wired Magazine

Jan. 25, 2010 – In an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design, all you need to conquer the world is a brilliant idea.
Photo: Dan Winters

The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories.

In June, Local Motors will officially release the Rally Fighter, a $50,000 off-road (but street-legal) racer. The design was crowdsourced, as was the selection of mostly off-the-shelf components, and the final assembly will be done by the customers themselves in local assembly centers as part of a “build experience.” Several more designs are in the pipeline, and the company says it can take a new vehicle from sketch to market in 18 months, about the time it takes Detroit to change the specs on some door trim. Each design is released under a share-friendly Creative Commons license, and customers are encouraged to enhance the designs and produce their own components that they can sell to their peers.

The Rally Fighter was prototyped in the workshop at the back of the Wareham office, but manufacturing muscle also came from Factory Five Racing, a kit-car company and Local Motors investor located just down the road. Of course, the kit-car business has been around for decades, standing as a proof of concept for how small manufacturing can work in the car industry. Kit cars combine hand-welded steel tube chassis and fiberglass bodies with stock engines and accessories. Amateurs assemble the cars at their homes, which exempts the vehicles from many regulatory restrictions (similar to home-built experimental aircraft). Factory Five has sold about 8,000 kits to date.

One problem with the kit-car business, though, is that the vehicles are typically modeled after famous racing and sports cars, making lawsuits and license fees a constant burden. This makes it hard to profit and limits the industry’s growth, even in the face of the DIY boom.

Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, saw a way around this. His company opted for totally original designs: They don’t evoke classic cars but rather reimagine what a car can be. The Rally Fighter’s body was designed by Local Motors’ community of volunteers and puts the lie to the notion that you can’t create anything good by committee (so long as the community is well managed, well led, and well equipped with tools like 3-D design software and photorealistic rendering technology). The result is a car that puts Detroit to shame.

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Posted in Economy, labor, Manufacturing | Leave a Comment »

Worker-Owned Businesses Might Be Answer to Unemployment in City of Reading, PA – and Elsewhere

Posted by carldavidson on October 28, 2012

Street scene in Reading

Concept means employees have stake in success of companies

By David Mekeel
Reading Eagle

Oct 27, 2012 – With poverty high in Reading, city officials are willing to try just about anything to create decent-paying jobs.

Friday afternoon, they heard a pitch for an idea that has worked elsewhere and might be just right in Reading.

Seattle-based filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin, in town for the Berks Arts Council’s seventh annual Greater Reading Film Festival, were the featured guests at a lunchtime roundtable session focused on employee-owned businesses.

Young and Dworkin have created a documentary on the subject titled, "Shift Change: Putting Democracy to Work," which will be screened during the festival.

The film, and Friday’s discussion, centered around the concept of community-first businesses, in which employees have a real stake in the company.

"If the business does well, they do well," Dworkin said. "There’s an incentive to work hard, not to shirk off."

Employee-owned businesses can take many forms, Dworkin and Young said.

Some have no management structure at all, with decisions being made by consensus. Others have professional management, with an elected board of employees overseeing their decisions.

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Posted in Economy, Green Jobs, Manufacturing, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

PA Gamesa Worker on Tour Calling on Congress to Save Clean Energy Jobs

Posted by carldavidson on October 2, 2012

Area Leaders Join Touring Worker Facing Furloughs to Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry

By Blue-Green Alliance

PITTSBURGH (September 25, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit. The lack of action on the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour tax incentive for wind energy — set to expire at the end of the year — was directly blamed by Gamesa for their decision to institute furloughs at two plants in Pennsylvania, including the plant of Ryan Motel, a United Steelworkers Local 2635 member who is currently on furlough.

“My job is at stake, but so are the jobs of many others,” said Motel. “If companies aren’t building wind farms because they’re not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren’t buying our blades. My message to Congress is simple: end this uncertainty, save my job, and save the jobs of thousands of people like me across the country.”

Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, 165 workers at two plants — in Fairless Hills in Bucks County and Ebensberg in Central Pennsylvania — were given notice that they were being furloughed due to lack of demand and the company attributed that directly to lack of certainty on the fate of the Production Tax Credit

Motel will join other workers in the wind industry in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan to call on Congressional leadership to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Economy, Environment, Green Energy, Green Jobs, Manufacturing, trade unions | Leave a Comment »

Obama Auto Bailout Saves More than Auto Jobs in Our Region

Posted by carldavidson on September 21, 2012

It’s Not Just About Cars

When President Obama took the bold step of saving the U.S. auto industry, he didn’t just save auto assembly jobs. He saved American manufacturing, including 350,000 USW jobs that are part of the auto supply chain.

All About Jobs

The auto rescue helped millions of Americans and Steelworkers from all over: the single mom making axles in Indiana. The lifelong paperworker in Wisconsin making high-glossy paper used in auto catalogs. The kid just out of high school hired into the tire plant in Ohio. The police officer in small town Pennsylvania. The list goes on and on.

Change Delivered

Mitt Romney says he would have let the auto industry fail — let us fail. President Obama believed in us. Saving the American auto industry was courageous. It was politically unpopular. But it was the right thing to do.

Posted in 2012 Election, Economy, Manufacturing, trade unions, unemployment | Leave a Comment »

 
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