Trump Signs An Executive Order on Mineral Production

Good news for people who like bad news: The U.S. of A. is entirely reliant on China for specific minerals used to power everything from wind turbines to smartphones!

That’s one of the findings of an updated report from the U.S. Geological Survey, headed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. That came out on Tuesday, and Wednesday President Trump – while Congressional Republicans were passing a tax cut for him to enact – has signed an executive order “instructing his deputies to devise ‘a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals’ that are largely imported.”

I’m less interested in the Trump administration’s plan to sell new mining rights on federal parkland than I am in how this executive order fits into the national security strategy announced by the president earlier this week.

That strategy labeled China (and Russia) as the competition – and this report and accompanying order are part of Trump’s new effort to counter aggressive Chinese trade policy.

Will it work?

China has basically cornered the market on rare earths – it identified them as important early and invested billions into developing an industry around them (with little in the way of labor and environmental standards to slow it down) – and was willing to restrict access to them when beef started cooking with another country. This prompted a WTO trade complaint by the Obama administration a few years back, which it won. Heck, 60 Minutes even did a segment on it.

This is a big deal. Rare-earth elements go into a lot of military applications (there’s that “national security strategy” angle) and it’s unwise to allow a critical material (and its production) to be completely offshore. It’s basically a chokepoint.

Plus: No matter how you cut it, expanding domestic production is a much better idea than backing a plan – presented by the Education secretary’s brother – to privatize American military operations in Afghanistan and loot that country’s mineral wealth.


Reposed from the AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”


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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work