Letters: Unions on manufacturing, emissions cheating


Solutions exist for ‘gap’ in skilled workers

There are plenty of things holding back job creation in manufacturing, but a lack of skilled workers is not one of them.

Yes, there were 364,000 job openings in December — but manufacturers also filled 352,000 jobs that month. The rate of job openings in manufacturing was only 75 percent as high as for the private sector overall. Not the picture of an industry struggling to hire.

Solutions are in place for training highly skilled workers. During union apprenticeship programs, individuals not only learn a skill, they practice and develop that skill in conjunction with the needs of the business community, while earning a fair, living wage.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is once again touring the nation to promote manufacturing, while continuing to promote the theory of a so-called “skills-gap” in manufacturing as a major problem for the sector.

NAM wants to divert attention from the job-killing trade deals it supports, the super-low pay of many of its big corporate members in places like Mexico or our lack of a serious publicly funded infrastructure program. Skills are important, but let’s not lose our focus on why manufacturing employment is suffering in the first place.

Brad Markell

executive director

AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council

Hold Volkswagen accountable

Following the North American International Auto Show, Detroiters may be looking for a new car. Consumers should choose their next car carefully, with an eye toward supporting American workers and rewarding those companies who fairly and honestly engage in the auto market sales competition for our purchases.

Indeed, there is one company that has cheated the system for almost a decade. While they have pleaded guilty to cheating the environment and auto market, their fines and punishment still leave Volkswagen with the reward of unfair profits.

In 2015, it was discovered the company’s car models were tampered with, in an attempt to cheat pollution standards. Volkswagen admitted the company designed computer software to purposefully cheat emission tests. The nitrogen oxide their cars pumped into the air was up to 40 times the allowable legal limit. In the U.S. over 600,000 cars were doctored; over 10 million worldwide.

Volkswagen cheated the regulators, but they also deceived the car buying public.

What is next for Volkswagen? As consumers, as car buyers, we should keep this company’s actions in mind as we choose to reward manufacturers with our substantial purchase of a new car.

Mark T. Gaffney

president emeritus

Michigan AFL-CIO