Dan Swinney worked for 13 years as a machinist. He also served as vice president of a local steel forge in Cicero, Illinois. Since then, Swinney has drawn on his experience in manufacturing to create the Center for Labor and Community Resarch. His goal is to find out what went wrong for American manufacturing. Swinney joined Rick Kogan on The Afternoon Shift to react to the issues brought up in the final installment of the Front & Center series on economic mobility.
“I’m convinced that manufacturing is viable in this country. …but manufacturing did change in the late 1990s. And what changed was that you really had the developing world—China, Mexico, India—develop a really industrial working class that could do low-skilled and semi-skilled work at much less of what we’d pay here. So we then began to lose our low-skilled work. What happened with companies in this country is they began to move to high-skilled work…more complex projects, and this was where the issue of education came in. Because companies themselves that were focused in our manufacturing sector were doing work where they couldn’t find the talent they needed to, in fact, succeed,” Swinney said.