New study examines real impact of  “Buy America” and public procurement initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 9, 2015 – The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and Jobs to Move America, a national coalition uniting more than 50 community, faith, labor, and civil rights organizations, released a new report about opportunities for American job creation through transportation procurement policies, called “Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies.”

The report comes after Congress approved the first long-term transportation bill in 10 years, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, on Friday, December 4. The FAST Act included the Buy America provision, which sets domestic content standards for the transportation purchases by Department of Transportation grantees to ensure that American tax dollars support U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The report was unveiled at a briefing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, December 8, at the Rayburn House Office Building’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Hearing Room. Reps. Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Dan Lipinski (IL-3), co-chairs of the Congressional Buy American Caucus, provided introductory remarks.

Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), and co-author of the study, discussed key findings including how significant reforms of the “Buy America” program of the Department of Transportation can strengthen domestic railcar manufacturers and workers in this sector.

“Promoting manufacturing is a way to build jobs; we have lost five million manufacturing jobs in recent years,” said Pollin. “Strengthening monitoring and enforcement of Buy America provisions is crucial to ensure the creation of more manufacturing jobs.”

“Buying American is one of the fastest and most effective ways to create jobs and give the overall economy a boost. This legislation will help ensure that we are supporting American workers, especially the hard-working middle class,” said Rep. Lipinski (see statement).

To connect policy implications to personal impact for American workers, 11 workers from six states shared testimonies of their experiences working in transportation manufacturing. These included:

  • Renee Brand, a Decal Technician at the New Flyer bus factory in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

  • Eric Braun, a Welder at the New Flyer bus factory in Anniston, Alabama.

  • Donna Comp-Penwarden, a Quality Assurance Inspector with Nippon Sharyo railcar manufacturing facility in Rochelle, Illinois.

  • Stacey Corcoran, an Electrician at the Nippon Sharyo railcar manufacturing facility in Rochelle, Illinois.

  • Gabriel Harrell, an Assembler at the New Flyer bus factory in Anniston, Alabama.

  • Anne Latham, a Manufacturing Specialist at Alstom Transportation Inc. in Hornell, New York.

  • Songsinh Matmanivong, a Cold Welder at the New Flyer bus factory in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

  • Jennifer Narrod, a Specialist at Alstom Signaling Inc. in Rochester, New York.

  • Elizabeth Perry, an Electrical Workleader at Alstom Transportation Inc. in Hornell, New York.

  • Debra Pitts, a Driver at the New Flyer bus factory in Ontario, California.

  • Nicholas South, a Quality Inspector at the Siemens factory in Norwood, Ohio.

Read policy highlights and summary.

Read full study.

About The Political Economy Research Institute

Established in 1998, The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) is an independent unit of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with close ties to the Department of Economics. PERI promotes human and ecological well-being through our original research. Our approach is to translate what we learn into workable policy proposals that are capable of improving life on our planet today and in the future. In the words of the late Professor Robert Heilbroner, we at PERI “strive to make a workable science out of morality.”

About Jobs to Move America

Jobs to Move America is a national coalition uniting more than 50 community, faith, labor, and civil rights organizations to maximize the value of U.S. tax dollars spent on public transit investments. Jobs to Move America is bringing a delegation of 11 transit workers from six states to Washington, D.C. to share their stories of how good jobs in transportation manufacturing are impacting their lives, their families, and their communities.