Senators Want to Create a New Website to Help U.S. Manufacturers Win Federal Contracts

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Digital Media Manager, AAM

bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation on Thursday to create a new website to help American manufacturers land more federal contracts — and reduce the number of Buy American waivers given to federal agencies.

Approximately $34 billion in taxpayer dollars were paid to foreign manufacturers in the last five years. Under existing Buy American laws, federal projects like bridge building must utilize domestically manufactured goods and materials like steel, as long they are available and reasonably priced. But agencies have used waivers to get around Buy American, and domestic manufacturers are clearly losing out on substantial opportunities.

The new legislation aims to shine a light on the process and ensure federal agencies abide by Buy American by creating BuyAmerican.gov, a central, publicly available website that will collect and display information about each requested Buy American waiver. Manufacturers and others would then be able to identify contract opportunities, and federal agencies can be held accountable for abusing the waiver process.

“We must do everything we can to protect and maximize American jobs, and that starts by ensuring that our tax dollars aren’t used to create jobs overseas,” said Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), who introduced the bill alongside Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). 

“Our bill would go a much-needed step further,” said Murphy. “It would strengthen and provide transparency of our Buy American laws, which I’ve been working on since I came to Congress, and provide opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to compete to boost our economy and help secure the national security supply chain.”

Buy American waivers have consequences far beyond lost income for individual companies. Domestic manufacturers have faced significant challenges in recent years, and federal contracts can play a crucial role in preserving manufacturers, particularly those who are critical to our national security, as well as sustaining the communities and families that depend on these manufacturing jobs.

And it just doesn't make sense to send tax dollars overseas when American workers and companies are ready to do the job here at a reasonable price.

"Taxpayer dollars should support American-made products, and our federal agencies should lead the way in promoting U.S. jobs and products," Brown said. "American workers are the best at what they do, and our federal agencies should always look to them first when awarding government contracts." 

Buy American has strong backing from the public as well. Recent polling found that 80% of likely voters support these laws, and 76% were in favor of the creation of a public website that discloses any time that government agencies or contractors try to get around Buy American laws and use foreign goods.

Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) are jointly reintroducing companion legislation in the House.

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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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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work