Training Can Reset Outlook for Manufacturing Communities

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

A recent segment on PBS Newshour explores the implications of automation for workers, particularly the predominately Hispanic population of the Southern California region an hour east of Los Angeles, known as the Inland Empire, where manufacturing and distribution centers dot the landscape.  

In this area, fears that automation will supplant jobs loom large.

Indeed, the prospect of manufacturing job loss should be seen as a threat to the livelihood of not only individual workers, but entire regions, particularly those with communities of color. When family-sustaining manufacturing jobs leave, it is these communities that are often disproportionately impacted by the aftermath though suffering is shared by all workers – all the more reason to fight for infrastructure investment and worker-friendly trade policies.

But there’s more that can be done to help ensure that America’s next generation of workers is ready for the factory of the future.

As we anticipate the integration of robotics into the workplace, we must also support programs that equip workers with advanced manufacturing capabilities. Where these programs are not in place, workers risk missing vital opportunities to build the core skills needed for the factory jobs of the future.

Paul Granillo, president and chief executive officer of Inland Empire Economic Partnership, highlights this concern in an interview for PBS Newshour:

“I think automation is wonderful, and I’m a user of automation. But if it’s only going to be that some regions are going to win and others are going to lose, I do believe that then it does become a moral issue.”

However, partnerships between colleges and companies are creating the programs needed to forestall this.

Featured in the PBS Newshour segment, California Steel Industries and local community colleges have collaborated to develop the Industrial Technical Learning Center, or InTech, in Fontana, Calif.

InTech’s instruction in critical advanced manufacturing fields promises to offer job security as automation integration continues. One InTech student, Erick Martinez comments:

“If I can’t use my manual skills because a robot or an algorithm is going to take my job, there is that uncertainty of, what am I going to do? But then you get exposed to, ‘Hey, we can train you to troubleshoot a lot of these changes that are happening, a lot of things that are replacing your job. Then you can be one step ahead of that.”  

As more advanced manufacturing training programs like that of InTech grow, so too do opportunities to build a better future for all.

After all, there’s no need to fear the robots!


Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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