Manufacturing in America is in decline, they said. We don’t make things anymore, they said. An entire region can be labeled as the “Rust Belt” because of decay, they said. The region doesn’t have any jobs, they said. The city of Buffalo responded by going to work.
Talk is cheap in this Western New York city, home to dozens of thriving manufacturing companies and thousands of good paying jobs. By 2020, there will be 17,000 more jobs available due to companies expanding and an aging workforce, according to Insyte Consulting of Buffalo. Workers of all skill levels are needed to fill these roles that are crucial to the local and national economy. Organizations like Working For America, Western New York Area Labor Federation, Coalition for Economic Justice, and Jobs with Justice, came to the Service Employee International Union office in Buffalo to try and solve the problem of filling so many jobs in such a short period of time. After all, 2020 is only eight months away.
These groups are working with the local community to promote the skilled trades as an alternative to more expensive traditional college programs that load kids up with debt and leave them with few employment prospects. A potential un-tapped resource for these jobs is in traditionally disadvantaged communities. There are thousands of people who are looking for good paying work, and may not have thought joining a union was possible.
“There are not [very many] women in my trade but I’m one of four and I’m proud,” Christine Anzalone said to WKBW. A tool and die apprentice at the Ford Plant in Buffalo, she has seen her salary more than double – and that is before graduating. Once finished, she will make over $67,000 a year as a union machinist. This is just one of the many good quality, high paying jobs that unions are looking to fill over the next year.
Though these jobs do require some training, the time spent is more than worth the investment. “That was a hard thing for me…going back to school at my age, I’m glad I didn’t say no or didn’t take the classes because I definitely would have regretted it,” Anzalone said to WKBW.
They said that manufacturing in the area was dead. Instead of listening to those who said what couldn’t be done, Buffalo went to work. Now, the area is looking for seventeen thousand people who want to build a better future for themselves and their families.