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In Case You Missed It: U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens Townhall

On Thursday, June 3, U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens joined MICHauto’s Executive Director Glenn Stevens Jr. and Jason Puscas, director of government affairs, to discuss critical factors impacting the automotive industry and how things are going in Washington. True to form, Stevens spoke passionately about this industry; her District 11 is home to the largest concentration of automotive suppliers in the state. She shared the insights she gleans from her weekly Manufacturing Monday tour stops and spoke candidly on her role to not only legislate but to educate her colleagues on the nuances of the automotive and mobility industry.

Highly publicized news stories around the semiconductor chip shortage, workforce reluctance to return to work, and shipping delays are helping in that regard as the nation looks toward mobility and electrification solutions. Electric vehicles have usurped the conversation. Simultaneously, Stevens says, she is still very much looking ahead at what needs to be done on autonomous vehicle technology and what that means for last-mile delivery solutions, workforce considerations, and productivity capabilities.

Stevens’ hands-on approach is due in part to her enthusiasm for the automotive and mobility industry, and the key role that manufacturing plays in the state. When talking about Manufacturing Monday visits, Stevens said “I do it because I want to geek out with your technology, I want to geek out with your equipment, I want to geek out with your incredible workforce. I want to see what’s going on.”

Reflecting over the last 18 months, it is not a surprise to Stevens that automotive in Michigan really leads the charge for the nation’s recovery, stating, “We are so proud of you. We are so proud of our auto industry and what you have represented for the last year and a half. It is the story that rises out of Michigan time and time again, which is that we know how to uplift out of tough times. We know how to carry this nation forward.”

Looking ahead there are still many obstacles for Michigan’s leading industry. And while Stevens has a pulse on it, it is conversations like this that support her calls for action. CEOs asked candid questions about the new administration and bipartisanship, along with immigration, the workforce shortage, and a critical need for semiconductor chips.

Stevens shared the concerns around labor shortages and was compelled to reach out to the White House on a Saturday evening after talking with several manufacturing companies because she has never been more nervous than today about our labor shortages. There is a need, she says, to inspire the next generation and plug people into existing jobs. Manufacturing has experienced legacy shortages that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. And Stevens suggests working in Congress to uplift these workers through tuition reimbursement or assistance, credentials, or incentives, recognizing that we cannot move fast enough.

When asked about the possible continuation of federal supplemental unemployment benefits, Stevens remains steadfast in her approach, “It is worth evaluating a phased-in effort to look at ending supplemental benefits earlier, not that it’s one size fits all, we’ve got a lot of jobs. They’re here. What we need to say is it is time to get back to work.”