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U.S. Commerce Secretary discusses semiconductor chip shortage with Michigan auto industry, labor and elected leaders

U.S Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
U.S Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

At a UAW union hall in Taylor, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo sat down Monday with auto industry executives, labor and elected leaders to discuss the semiconductor shortage.

A shortage of semi-conductor chips has slowed automotive and other manufacturing this year. The worldwide shortage is the result of the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues.

Ray Scott, president and chief executive officer of the Lear Corp, describes the current situation as still being “Hand to Mouth.”

At the roundtable, Raimondo urged support for a multi-billion dollar bill to encourage more domestic production of semi-conductor chips.

“The purpose of the money, the $52 billion, is to create a fund within the Commerce Department, and we would use that to incentivize companies to create manufacturing facilities in America,” said Raimondo.

The U.S. Senate has passed its version of the bill. Action is expected soon in the U.S. House. Both sides hope to land the final bill on the president’s desk by the end of the year.

But Raimondo admits the federal incentive for more domestic semiconductors production will not end the current shortage.

“You know, look, it’s a year plus away before we can get to the business of making more FABS (Facilitating American Built Semiconductors) in America on account of the legislation which is why we’re so anxious to get it passed.”

The prospect of a major investment in new semiconductor production has union support.

“This is both a challenge and an opportunity,” said UAW president Ray Curry. “ We have an opportunity to work with Congress and the Biden Administration to develop trade and policy solutions that ensure that advanced technology that has been offshored is brought back and new technology stays right here in the United States produced by UAW workers."

But Raimondo’s trip to Michigan drew criticism from the Republican National Committee.

“While Michigan’s auto industry faces a semiconductor chip shortage that threatens its ability to compete at home and abroad, the Biden administration is too busy championing a failed social agenda that ignores the supply chain crisis and rising inflation. Gina Raimondo needs to cut the lip service and provide Michigan auto workers with a solution that will unclog the supply chain,’ said RNC Spokesperson Preya Samsundar, in a written statement.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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