manufacturing

Can Unions and Cooperatives Join Forces? | Truthout.com

An Interview With United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard

By Amy Dean

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard talks to Truthout about the challenges and opportunities of a new labor model: the union co-op.

As the economic crisis festers for many long-term unemployed and underemployed people, the idea of worker-owned and worker-run cooperatives has become ever more appealing as a possible pathway toward an economy that works for everyone. Theorists such as Gar Alperovitz have argued for the importance of cooperatives in providing a nuts-and-bolts alternative to dominant methods of economic production: They offer an example of a different way of doing business that people can see and experience in their own lives.

As someone who loves to see organized labor on the move in any form, I am interested in the role that unions can play in promoting co-ops – and I have been excited to see the United Steelworkers take an especially proactive role in bolstering the cooperative movement. I spoke with Steelworkers President Leo Gerard about how union/co-op hybrids could change the experience of work for those who clock in every day and about the depth of vision it will take to make union co-ops a serious part of the American economy.

Given that cooperatives currently make up only a tiny percentage of our economy, I first asked Gerard whether he thought co-ops could be viable at a larger scale.

“People don’t realize there are millions of people in the United States and Canada that are already members of co-ops,” he said. “When I was a kid growing up in northern Ontario, my parents used to shop at a food co-op. I think that there are already a lot of these businesses; people just don’t know it.”

Gerard next discussed the structure of “union co-ops” that the Steelworkers have begun, in partnership with Spain’s Mondragon cooperatives. Here’s how it works: Employees can join the union of their choice, and they are guaranteed a living wage, benefits and a collective bargaining agreement. In some of the new union co-ops, workers get ownership shares in the enterprise, which they pay for a little at a time out of their paychecks and which accrue equity over a period of six or eight or 10 years. Workers vote on the composition of the management team and collectively bargain with that team to set workers’ wages, benefits, and procedures for handling disputes.

Read the full interview via Truthout.

 

New Michigan Energy + Technology Center to focus on developing Muskegon’s port and B.C. Cobb site | M Live

CHICAGO – The Michigan Energy + Technology Center consortium of companies announced a formal partnership Monday and outlined plans to work on two initial projects including development of Muskegon’s port facilities.

The agreement joining Consumers Energy, Rockford Berge, Michigan State University and other Michigan-based energy-related companies was outlined at the first day of the American Wind Energy Association national conference in Chicago.

METC will begin working on port development in Muskegon by branding the state’s only deep-water port on Lake Michigan “43 Degrees North@Muskegon.” Muskegon’s port will be developed for alternative energy logistics and manufacturing – especially with the wind turbine industry, METC members said.

Jump starting Muskegon port development is Consumers Energy’s commitment to allow METC and its members access to the coal dock facility at the B.C. Cobb Generating Plant on the east end of Muskegon Lake. The Jackson-based public utility’s 1,800-foot dock, which can handle the largest Great Lake freighters, now serves a coal-fired power plant the company plans to “mothball” beginning in 2015.

The other project METC will begin to develop is a “virtual” technology center called METC@MSU. This pilot program brings MSU into the alternative energy consortium for the first time.

MSU faculty will be connected with METC members through the Internet to begin working on research that would include the university’s ongoing work with composite materials, logistics and advanced energy storage, METC members said.

Besides MSU, Consumers and Rockford Berge – a partnership of Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. and a Spanish global logistics company formed to work on wind energy issues in the region – METC also includes Energetx Composites of Holland, Sand Products Co. of Muskegon and Verplank Dock Co. of Ferrysburg.

Read the whole article from M Live.

Why Unions Are Going Into the Co-op Business | Yes! Magazine

Yes Magazine Coop CoverThe steelworkers deal that could turn the rust belt green.
by Amy Dean

“Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollow out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants,” said United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard in 2009. “We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”

Gerard was announcing a formal partnership between his 1.2-million-member union and Mondragon, a cluster of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. (more…)

Plant, projects help Napoleon earn title of ‘America’s Number One Solar Small Town’ | Toledo Blade

NAPOLEON — Michael Peck still finds it amazing that a tiny area smack in the middle of rural northwest Ohio can have such a large solar footprint.

Granted, since last February, the city of Napoleon has been home to a solar panel-making operation headed by Mr. Peck, chairman of Isofoton North America Inc., an offspring of Spanish solar panel Isofoton.

But Isofoton North America’s $30 million plant, which employs 30 workers, isn’t the only connection to the solar industry in Henry County, Mr. Peck noted. AP Alternatives LLC, which makes and installs racks to hold solar panels, is running successfully in nearby Ridgeville Corners. (more…)

Running In The Deep – A Tale of Two Cities

Two of the hardest lessons to assimilate leading up to America’s 2012 national elections include the unchallenged devastation from extreme weather fall-out and credible domestic job creation economics by fully globalized industries such as automotive production. The first lesson is being re-learned in excruciating real-time (160 lives lost, $60 billion in damages, and counting) by the country’s powered-out, Northeast coastal populations. Today’s “Weather Security” imperatives are rechanneling yesterday’s “climate change” impasse like an action verb overshadows a noun.

In New York, the city that truly has it all with increasing frequency between reoccurring extreme weather and financial sector meltdown tsunamis, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s prophetic quip that “we have a 100-year flood every two years now” can apply both to Mother Nature and to Wall Street. Mayor Bloomberg’s recent presidential campaign endorsement represents the first and foremost “weather security” candidate pick of the 2012 election cycle.

Forget about the partisan politics, ideological polarization and vested interests distorting America’s climate change debate; hard, cold and wet reality has a way of realigning the national conversation, transforming ranting monologues into chastened dialogues. (more…)

Solar firm targets steady growth | Toledo Blade

Job fair for veterans seeks staff for plant under way in Napoleon

BY KRIS TURNER

NAPOLEON — The solar-panel machinery inside Isofoton USA’s sprawling Napoleon facility is spaced out like giant puzzle pieces.

Machines are arranged in a line across the length of the former warehouse. Some of the equipment is ready to be strung together, while other pieces are positioned for the delivery of more machinery.

A few of the solar-panel manufacturer’s 12 employees tended to the equipment Friday, getting things ready for the company’s December ramp-up deadline.

“It’s like solar world around here,” said Michael Peck, chairman of Isofoton USA, who was in Napoleon on Friday for a veterans job fair being held by the company. (more…)

Red, White and Green: The True Colors of America’s Clean Tech Jobs | DBL Investors

September 2012—a new white paper from DBL Shows Red States Lead in Green Job Growth

Clean tech may cre­ate a highly par­ti­san debate in Wash­ing­ton D.C., but in the rest of coun­try, it cre­ates jobs. A new report exam­ines the sharp con­trasts between polit­i­cal rhetoric and on-the-ground real­ity, and shows that red states – not blue states – are lead­ing clean tech or “green job” growth.

The report, “Red, White and Green: The True Col­ors of America’s Clean Tech Jobs” authored by Nancy Pfund, Man­ag­ing Part­ner, DBL Investors and Michael Lazar, a Yale Uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate stu­dent, demon­strates the grow­ing impor­tance of the clean tech indus­try in both red and blue states, and espe­cially in swing states. (more…)

Energetx Composites exporting wind blade molds to Spain | Holland Sentinel

By Stephen Kloosterman, May 22, 2012

Holland’s Energetx Composites LLC started work Sunday exporting 11 molds used to create industrial-size wind turbine blades.

The molds — which range in size from 26 feet to 149 feet — are being shipped to Aeroblade, based in Minano, Spain, Energetx officials said in a prepared statement. (more…)

Responsible Private Equity Investors Revitalizing U.S. Manufacturing | Huffington Post

by Marco Trbovich

Private equity firms and their investors from Taft-Hartley and state pension funds offered compelling accounts of their success in securing profitable returns on investment in U.S. manufacturing — especially in the Midwest — at the Heartland Capital Strategies fourth and final Responsible Investment Forum, organized in collaboration with the Blue Green Alliance.

Read the post, including a section of some of MAPA’s work, from the Huffington Post.

The Midwest’s Manufacturing Conundrum | The Atlantic Cities

By Richard Florida May 11, 2012

America’s manufacturing revival is being hailed by a growing chorus of voices. Manufacturing jobs increased at their fastest rate in almost a year, according to data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The Boston Consulting Group is forecasting the creation of between two and three million new manufacturing jobs by 2020, which will contribute an estimated $20 to $55 billion in added economic output per year. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics is less bullish, projecting just 357,000 new manufacturing jobs will be created over the next decade). (more…)

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