By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, Aug. 4, 2021
U.S. workers are the best in the world. But over the last several decades, their workplace efforts have been undercut by the desire of corporations to fatten their wallets as much as possible by sending as many jobs as possible overseas.
Instead of intervening to help hardworking Americans struggling to make ends meet, the federal government largely remained on the sidelines. As a result, middle-class workers saw their wages stagnate as the fortunes of big business and those at the top of the economic ladder soared.
But now, thanks to the work of the Biden administration, real change is on the horizon. And the latest example comes in the form of proposed rulemaking that would ensure purchases made by the U.S. government support products manufactured and services provided by American workers, following through on a promise President Joe Biden made when he first took office earlier this year.
As part of the proposal, U.S. content in the products the American government buys would increase from 55% now to 75% in 2029, the largest such proposed change in the Buy American Act since it was implemented almost 90 years ago.
Under the updated regulations, mandated American content would rise to 60% upon implementation and grow to 65% in 2024 before reaching the 75% threshold.
The potential effect on U.S. jobs is significant.
“With $600 billion in annual procurement spending, almost half of which is in manufactured products from helicopter blades to trucks to office furniture, the federal government is a major buyer in a number of markets for goods and services, including the single largest purchaser of consumer goods in the world,” the White House released in a fact sheet about the proposed rule.
Leveraging that purchasing power to shape markets and accelerate innovation is a key part of the White House’s strategy to grow the industries of the future to support U.S. workers, the release continued.
The rulemaking would also increase transparency and accountability in the buy-American rule by establishing a reporting requirement for critical products. The new reporting requirement would bolster compliance with the Buy American Act and improve data on the actual U.S. content of goods purchased.
But the work won’t stop there. We will team with the Biden administration to expand these efforts to include more of the National School Lunch Act, which currently is going through the reauthorization process.
Teamsters working in the food processing sector, as well as U.S. farmers, risk not enjoying any of the benefits of robust procurement upgrades if changes aren’t made. It is our goal to expand the whole-of-government domestic content approach to the school lunch program as America’s students prepare to return to class in the fall.
This rule change is a win for workers. It is well past time that hardworking Americans are recognized by their leaders and rewarded for their efforts. It’s time that more in the workforce get an opportunity for greater hours and higher pay. That’s how this nation can and will build back stronger.