Endowment to America’s Only Textile College Recognizes Importance of U.S. Manufacturing

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher and Writer, AAM

With 700 textile manufacturing facilities and over 35,000 workers, North Carolina’s textile mill industry is one of the largest in the U.S., a reputation that North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles has helped build since 1899. 

Thanks to a former student's generous donation, the college continues to serve as a hub for cutting-edge textile research and development, and as a supplier of workforce talent. 

The school announced a $28 million gift, the largest gift in the college’s history, from alumnus Frederick Eugene Wilson Jr. and his family on Nov. 2. In the family’s honor, the school was renamed the Wilson College of Textiles. 

Wilson emphasized that his gift demonstrates his faith in the future of U.S. manufacturing:

“When we were talking to the chancellor about the college and about it being the only college of textiles remaining in the U.S., a light bulb really went off. Somebody’s got to draw a line in the sand. We’ve got to remember what got us here and recognize where we can go in the future. I’m happy that we could be the ones to do that.”

The Wilson College of Textiles is the only American college exclusively dedicated to the study of textiles and frequently partners with manufacturers and federal agencies, sponsoring the growth of manufacturing jobs throughout the state and country.

“The Wilson family’s donation will benefit not just North Carolinians, but the entire U.S. textile supply chain,” National Council of Textile Organizations Chairman and North Carolina State University graduate Marty Moran said.  

Though the exodus of manufacturing from America in past decades led to the shutdown of many U.S. textile companies, new technology has made domestic manufacturing more and more attractive. In 2017, the U.S. textile industry supply chain employed 550,500 workers and was the fourth-largest exporter of textile-related products in the world.

A resurgence of textile manufacturing appears close at hand, but training and research centers like the Wilson College of Textiles will play a critical role in ensuring future growth.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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