Surviving As a Manufacturer in the 21st Century

The golden era of the manual and China cnc machining shop has long been forgotten. It leaves many wondering exactly what is “fair trade”. We spoke to many machine shops and studied 2 shops in depth and the conclusions are startling. Nearly all shops agree that unless something is done to change the way the United States operates with other countries, manufacturing will slowly die out in our country. The biggest concerns and finger pointing was at unions in today’s marketplace, “fair trade”, and high restrictions put in place on small businesses.

The labor union, or trade union was a great stepping stone to increasing the quality of life in the U.S. during the 19th century. Unfortunately the common response heard when interviewing manufacturers was that because of increased scrutiny from the government child labor laws, minimum wages, and other laws made the labor union obsolete. Many believe that the UAW(united auto workers) union is what led to the failure of U.S. car manufacturing. It’s believed that the workers were over paid and over compensated for the jobs they were performing which greatly affects the price and quality of the product they are making. Some think unions should be abolished in total, while others think it would be impossible because with or without a union there would still be strikes and disagreements which can happen even in non-union shops. It’s hard to turn back time and find out what would be different with out it, but perhaps in the future we can look at changes to help manufacturing in the U.S. in the future.

The “fair trade” act our government has adopted has drawn increased scrutiny from manufacturers in the U.S. Some wonder how it can be considered fair for other counties to over tax products coming from the United States while barely taxing products coming to the United States. Shops claimed that they could get parts completed on CNC machines shipped to them from China for less than the cost of the raw material needed to create the part in the U.S. There were stories of buying containers filled with parts for pennies on the dollar and still saving money by checking all the parts and disgarding over half that did not meet tolerances. With competition like that how is it fair? We hold our country to a high standard of life, high wages, insurance, environmental regulations, but yet don’t do anything about products coming in from countries who still promote slavery and destruction of the environment with nearly no regulations. Does the person standing in line at Walmart contribute to the end of manufacturing in our country or is it just a change in tides of our nations economical power?

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