National Association of Manufacturers

views updated Jun 11 2018


The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the oldest and largest broad-based industrial trade association in the United States. NAM seeks to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers by lobbying for legislation and regulations conducive to U.S. economic growth and to increase understanding among policy makers, the media, and the general public about the importance of manufacturing to U.S. economic strength. NAM is comprised of more than 14,000 member companies and subsidiaries of which more than 80 percent are small manufactures, plus 350 member associations in all 50 states. NAM member companies and affiliated associations produce about 85 percent of U.S. manufactured goods and employ more than 18 million persons. NAM, which has 175 professional and support staff, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with ten regional offices located across the United States.

NAM was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1895, in the midst of a economic recession. Many major manufacturers saw a need to find new markets for their products in other countries. At its organizing convention, NAM adopted a number of objectives, including the retention and supply of home markets with U.S. products, extension of foreign trade, development of reciprocal trade relations between the United States and foreign governments, rehabilitation of the U.S. Merchant Marine, construction of a canal in Central America, and improvement and extension of U.S. waterways.

NAM soon became a dominant influence in U.S. economic and political affairs. It lobbied for higher tariffs on imported goods and for the creation of the U.S. department of commerce in 1903, and it called for states to enact workers' compensation laws. During the 1930s, NAM vigorously opposed many of President franklin d. roosevelt's new deal proposals. In the 1940s and 1950s, it lobbied for the passage of federal laws restricting the power and internal governance of labor unions.

In the 1990s, NAM undertook new initiatives. The Manufacturing Institute was established to provide information on modern industry. This organization distributes monthly mailings to Congress, conducts research on technology and exports, produces research reports, commissions public opinion polls, and disperses books and educational CD-ROMs to schools.

NAM and the Manufacturing Institute joined forces in the 1990s with key partners in the Partnership for a Smarter Workforce and other efforts to identify the best ways to train employees. In 1997 the institute established the Center for Workforce Success and an awards program for outstanding manufacturing workers. In addition, NAM has lobbied for increased accountability and results in taxpayer-funded training programs.

NAM has increased its lobbying on international economic issues. The association played a key role in a number of trade policy victories during the 1990s, including the north american free trade agreement (NAFTA) and the certification of China as a most favored nation. NAM also lobbied vigorously for a national campaign to facilitate exports.

In response to a decline in jobs and a decrease in the number of small manufacturing companies brought on by a weakening economy in the early 2000s, NAM established its "Strategy for Growth and Manufacturing Renewal" to focus attention on the issues affecting manufacturing. These issues include changes to tax and trade policies, energy-related concerns, asbestos litigation, innovations to technology, and development of worker skills.

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National Association of Manufacturers. Available online at <> (accessed July 28, 2003).



National Association of Manufacturers

views updated Jun 11 2018


NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS (NAM) was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1895. Most fundamentally, the organization sought to give business an authoritative voice in the determination of governmental policy. More particularly, born in the midst of the serious depression of the mid-1890s, the NAM was dedicated initially to the protection of the home market via the tariff and to the expansion of foreign trade by such means as reform of the counselor service, the construction of an isthmian canal, and a revamping of the U.S. merchant marine. In the wake of the anthracite coal strike of 1902–1903, the association increasingly turned its attention to combating the rise of organized labor. During the 1920s, the NAM became a national leader in the business drive for the open shop. The Great Depression hit the organization hard, however, and its membership and revenues dropped precipitously.

The NAM retrenched and reasserted itself in the mid-1930s as the chief business opponent of New Deal liberal activism. Its shrill nay-saying failed to stop the torrent of reform legislation, but the organization gained an enduring reputation for ideological rigor in its denunciation of government regulation and the emergent welfare state.

In the postwar era the NAM played a significant role in the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which placed new limits on organized labor. Thereafter, the association remained one of the nation's most prominent business lobbies, usually taking a harder, more ideological line than such accommodationist, big-business groups as the Business Roundtable. In 1974 the NAM moved its national headquarters from New York City to Washington, D.C. At the end of the twentieth century the organization had 14,000 member firms, including 10,000 small and midsize companies, and 350 member associations.


Collins, Robert M. The Business Response to Keynes, 1929–1964. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Steigerwalt, Albert K. The National Association of Manufacturers, 1895–1914: A Study in Business Leadership. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1964.

Vogel, David. Fluctuating Fortunes: The Political Power of Business in America. New York: Basic Books, 1989.

Robert M.Collins

See alsoBusiness Unionism ; Taft-Hartley Act ; Tariff ; Trade, Foreign .

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National Association of Manufacturers