ASA Insights
Dec. 22, 2011

NLRB Issues Final 'Ambush Elections' Rule; Christmas Arrives Early for Labor
American Supply Association
The National Labor Relations Board has published its final rule in Wednesday's Federal Register permitting what many in the business community have billed as "ambush elections." The rule is widely believed to lead to a radically skewed process for union representation elections — tilting the playing field strongly towards organized labor. The new rule effectively shortens election time frames, limiting employees' opportunity to hear from employers and make an informed choice and diminishing employers' due process.More

Congress's Payroll Standoff — Who Blinks First?
Less than two weeks remain — with a holiday in between — for Congress to keep alive a payroll-tax cut, unemployment insurance, and a "doc fix" patch. Here is how it could play out.More

Survey: 85 Percent of Manufacturing Executives See Manufacturing Returning to US
Business Wire via MarketWatch
According to a survey conducted by Cook Associates Executive Search, 85 percent of manufacturing executives see the possibility of certain manufacturing operations returning to the U.S., with 37 percent citing overseas costs as the major factor. Nineteen percent cited logistics and 36 percent stipulated other reasons, including economic/political issues, quality and safety concerns, patriotism and overseas skills shortages for highly technical manufacturing processes. More

Economy's Plight to Shape 2012 Presidential Race
The Associated Press via Boston Globe
For the intertwined U.S. economy and presidential politics, it was a year of twists and unexpected turns. The wobbly economy framed the agenda for both parties, and how it performs in the coming months will help decide whether President Barack Obama wins a second term. An improved economy in 2012 could greatly enhance Obama's chances of re-election. If it stays about the same or worsens, his chances could fade, regardless of his GOP opponent.More

Heavy Metal is Back: The Best Cities For Manufacturing
For a generation American manufacturing has been widely seen as a "declining sport." Yet, its demise has been largely overplayed. Despite the many jobs this sector has lost in the past generation, manufacturing remains remarkably resilient, with a global market share similar to that of the 1970s. More recently, the U.S. industrial base has been on a powerful upswing, with employment climbing steadily since 2009. Boosted by productivity gains and higher costs in competitors, including China, U.S. manufacturing exports have grown at their fastest rate since the late 1980s. In 2011 American manufacturing continued to expand, while Germany, Japan and Brazil all weakened in this vital sector.More

LME Preview: Copper Climbs on Shrinking Stockpiles, US Outlook
Bloomberg via Bloomberg Businessweek
Copper advanced, trimming weekly declines, as inventories monitored by the London Metal Exchange headed for an 11th weekly decline and better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims and manufacturing data boosted demand outlook.More

Manufacturing Can Thrive But Struggles For Respect
On a quiet stretch of the waterfront, about a mile from Boston's main tourist sites, a Gillette factory hums along 24 hours a day making an unlikely commodity: top-of-the-line razors. The factory, which employs about 700 people in manufacturing as well as another 800 in design, engineering and management, is an anomaly in modern America — a manufacturing site in one of most expensive cities in the country. But to Gillette's parent company, Procter & Gamble, Boston is an ideal base not only for making Fusion and Mach 3 razors, but to produce machines that assemble Gillette products around the world.More