As Trade War Ramps Up, China Wonders Aloud What Trump’s Intentions Are

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

An interesting story appeared in today’s Washington Post, about China’s shifting reaction to the burgeoning trade war with the United States. Reporter Anna Fifield spoke to Paul Haenle, a former Bush and Obama administration China policy adviser, who had this to say:

“Early on, the Chinese had a very simple narrative that all this trade stuff was about Trump's short-term political objectives, about getting a tweetable victory. … Now, they’re at the other end of the spectrum. Now it’s all about the U.S. trying to block China’s rise.”

Huh. The article lists the other evidence the Chinese state media has pointed to. The revival of the “Quad” dialogue. The possibility of U.S. sanctions over human rights abuses against Muslim Uighurs in China’s west. The suspicious date of the latest U.S. tariffs, which happened to line up with the anniversary of the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria! It’s beginning to look downright conspiratorial, and it’s all right in front of their noses: The United States is out to get China.  

But we should cut them some slack. Though it may be easy to roll your eyes at such commentary coming from state organs in China, a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around President Trump.

He seems to govern with what could be charitably called a sense of theatrical whimsy. The White House, to put it bluntly, appears chaotic at times. It's hard to get a bead on this guy.

But when it comes to trade – particularly trade policy with China – he’s remarkably consistent (despite a notable hiccup or two). But remember the campaign? He’s been very aggressive ever since. And his more eloquent trade advisers have been quite clear about what they consider their overarching goal: An economic reset with what will soon be the largest economy in the world. 

Such a reset isn't the containment conspiracy some in China see forming. Maybe they've just been misreading the landscape. 

The New York Times published an article observing the newly icy relations between Washington and Beijing, and observed as much. It notes how Chinese policymakers have been caught flat-footed by this. They didn’t see it coming:

Though Beijing devotes tremendous resources to studying the United States, there seems to be little understanding that the hostility against China in Washington is bipartisan and extends beyond trade, and that many frustrated business leaders, once defenders of good ties with China, now favor tougher measures against it as well.

This didn’t appear out of thin air. Whether acknowledged or not, there has been bad blood boiling about our bilateral economic relationship for years. 

The Times article’s gist is that although many influential Chinese are confident their country will outlast the United States in a trade war, there is significant internal debate about that. Funny; that’s basically the same conclusion the conventional wisdom in DC has reached … and it’s debatable in the U.S., too. In fact, a poll conducted for the Alliance for American Manufacturing by The Mellman Group, Inc., and Public Opinion Strategies found that more Americans are concerned about unfair Chinese trade practices than the potential fallout from a trade war.

Time will ultimately tell, but I wouldn’t wait up for trade policy to make a huge splash on the upcoming midterm elections. President Trump, on this issue at least, appears to have a laser-like focus. The trade fight with China is likely to continue for a while.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!