© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A call to boost manufacturing in American & WNY

WBFO News by photo Mike Desmond

American manufacturing is doing better and production is moving on-shore from off-shore, but problems remain.  The topic was addressed Monday night at a town hall style meeting held in downtown Buffalo. It was an unusual partnership between the United Steelworkers and the Alliance for American Manufacturing at Asbury Hall.  The discuss centered around rebuilding the country with American-made materials.

By all of measures, U.S. manufacturing is improving. It is not only because the economy is slowly improving, but the of quality issues in products made overseas.

Denny Wist is general manager of  Dunkirk Specialty Steel. The facility produces leading edge stainless steel materials whose price is measured by the pound not the ton.

Wist tells WBFO News manufacturing uses a lot of automation and fewer people.

"At the same time, it's growing but it's grown so slowly over the past few years...yeah, we're not hiring a lot of people because when you invest in the facilities you do make them more efficient so your need for manpower goes down a bit. I know it seems like those are incongruous thoughts but it actually does work that way," said Wist.

Wist also  noted that a big market is in the aerospace industry, with companies like Boeing and Bell Helicopter.

John Shinn is district director of the United Steelworkers of American District 4.   It boost 50,000 union members in the Northeast.

Shinn and Wist said there aren't enough skilled workers coming into the job market for manufacturing.

"We need to get the business, labor community, the government and also the academic community to get their heads together. Cause, there are skills needs out there in manufacturing. We got a lot of employers that are looking for electricians, instrument technicians, welders, pipe fitters and they can't find them because nobody is learning those skills anymore. These are still good jobs, that are living wage jobs," said Shinn.

Shinn said it's not hard to make $70,000 a year in skilled manufacturing positions and they are needed.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.