Marybe McMillan: Rare opportunity for Congress to help American competitiveness

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

When President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November, it was a major win for American workers who are ready to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. This month, the U.S. House built on that success by passing the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act  bipartisan legislation to strengthen supply chains, hold China accountable, and ensure our workers, farmers, and manufacturers have the necessary tools not just to compete, but also to win in the global economy.

On behalf of North Carolina workers, this legislation is critical to meet the challenges of the 21st century, lower costs for North Carolinians, and create good-paying jobs here at home. The COMPETES Act will empower North Carolina workers by creating more training opportunities for in-demand skills, while also providing American businesses the chance to build technologies that industries across the country need to innovate and lead in the global economy.

As the President of North Carolina AFL-CIO, I advocate for over 100,000 members in the collective fight for good jobs and an economy that works for everyone. By voting against the COMPETES ACT, Congressman Ted Budd has dealt a blow to union members and working people across the state.

This legislation is a rare opportunity for Congress to help to improve American competitiveness in manufacturing, science, and technology, but Budd’s vote sends a clear message to North Carolina workers and businesses that he is willing to side with China over supporting American jobs and innovation. That’s not someone deserving of a seat in the U.S. Senate. North Carolinians deserve a U.S. Senator that will defend the hard-working people across our state and not allow countries like China to stifle American competitiveness.

This is not only good policy; it is the right thing to do for North Carolina workers. It means increasing production of semiconductors in the United States, a critical component to keeping auto workers employed in good union jobs at the Daimler Trucks plant in Budd’s own district. It means increased job security for thousands of supply chain workers in our state, from Teamsters truck drivers to the Longshoremen who run our ports. It means the next manufacturing revolution, from computer chips to clean energy technology, can be American made and delivered, including from right here in North Carolina.

The pandemic wreaked havoc on our economy, but thanks to President Biden and Democrats’ efforts to get North Carolinians vaccinated, support small businesses, and get working people back on their feet, our economy is on the move again. 2021 was the greatest year of job creation under any president in U.S. history, and for the first time, the United States created more than 6.6 million jobs in just 12 months. Passing the COMPETES Act into law can help continue this economic momentum.

The U.S. House voted to bring manufacturing jobs back home, strengthen our supply chains, lower costs for families, and empower American workers and industries to compete on the world stage, but Republicans like Ted Budd are putting their own short-sighted political interests over efforts to outcompete China and bolster our workforce.

North Carolinians deserve an explanation. Someone who abandons North Carolina workers for their own gain has no place representing us.

MaryBe McMillan is president of the NC AFL-CIO.