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USW President Gerard testifies before Senate committee on stagnant economy

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United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo Gerard today told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday that U.S. manufacturing and the nation’s defense industries are in critical condition and must be revived to ensure national security.

Speaking for the USW, the AFL-CIO and its affiliate unions, Gerard called for immediate action with strategic and employment linked policies, investments, and incentives to revitalize a manufacturing base that lost some six million jobs and 57,000 manufacturing facilities between 1998 and 2010, the USW said in a statement released after Gerard’s testimony.

“The American economy remains fragile and uncertainty reigns,” Gerard said. “Unemployment, underemployment, wage stagnation, foreclosures all paint a grim picture of an economy still struggling to recover. For American manufacturing communities, this recession has been just one more big wave of economic tsunamis that have devastated workers, employers, and communities.”

Calling erosion of America’s manufacturing base a “clear and present danger,” Gerard told the committee that the health of manufacturing and the nation’s defense industries are inextricably linked. “They are in critical condition” he said.

“We believe that the decade long decline of the American manufacturing base is a crisis that has undermined our economic security and is a direct threat to our national security,” Gerard testified. “The question before us is, what has happened to that prosperity and security and what must we do to strengthen the nation’s industrial base?”

Gerard cited a new AFL-CIO report entitled Manufacturing Insecurity: America’s Manufacturing Crisis and the Erosion of the U.S. Defense Industrial Base. The report, submitted to the committee in support of Gerard’s testimony, is available at www.aflcio.org/manufacturing

“The report outlines a continuous weakening in manufacturing-value output, acceleration in manufacturing’s steady decline as a share of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), stagnant and even negative growth for the first time in seven decades in industrial capacity and capacity utilization,” the USW said.

“In addition, there is the shocking growth of trade deficits and import penetration that have led to the loss of millions of U.S. jobs,” Gerard said. “Increasingly, our nation’s corporations are picking up stake and moving their production overseas, scouring the globe for the lowest cost location to produce—in the short term—no matter what the long-term cost to our economy and our people.”

Gerard’s complete testimony is available at www.usw.org

 

Posted 5/12/2011

 

 

 

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