On Friday, I joined local labor friends from the Chicago Federation of Labor and students from University of Illinois at Chicago for a screening of American Made Movie and panel discussion on manufacturing and labor.
The film examined a number of obstacles in the American manufacturing industry and the decline of manufacturing jobs (highlighting specifically the additional 2-3 supporting jobs created by every manufacturing job.) The film featured American companies that have still thrived without sending jobs overseas or cutting back the quality of their products. The film also features the positive impact of domestic manufacturing jobs on national and local economies in the face of great challenges.
So, can more manufacturing in America help in our struggling economy?
The filmmakers, Vincent Vittorio and Nathaniel Thomas McGill, think so. They argue that American consumers demanding American-made products in stores can help recreate healthy and vibrant communities all across the country. The film urged consumers to “flip the tag over” and investigate where American products are really made and to support Made in America products, even if they cost extra.
Along the premise of the “slow food movement,” they argue consumer demand created shelf space for those products and type of dining; and consumer demand can put more American made products back on the shelves at stores across the country.
So what does this mean for worker rights?
Vittorio and McGill specifically created a non-partisan and non-political film, and featured a number of factories in Right-to-Work (for less) states. The film’s aim was to spur local job growth in American communities, but as worker advocates it’s our responsibility to continue to lift up the needs for good jobs in our communities.
So if consumer demands for American manufactured products increase (as the filmmakers hope) and more manufacturing jobs are created in our communities, workers and advocates for fair wages and benefits, healthcare and safe working conditions will need to continue to push job creators to make those jobs reflect our values and contribute to the health of our community.
The filmmakers visited UIC as part of a 32 day tour in 32 cities across the U.S. Click here to see if there is a film screening in your community. Check out a trailer of the film below.