To Fight Pandemic, Manufacturers Need Wolf to Amend Executive Order

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Overly-broad and imprecise business closure order will scramble supply chains, thwart production of life-saving goods, prevent those goods from reaching end users, and unnecessarily inflict lasting economic damage.

March 19, 2020 (Harrisburg, PA) – In response to the executive order issued by Governor Tom Wolf earlier today, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association President & CEO David N. Taylor made the following statement:

“First, as Governor Wolf should have learned through the National Governor’s Association, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has asked America’s governors to designate ALL ‘manufacturing facilities, supply chains and their employees as “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses” to assure clear, consistent and more uniformly aligned guidance to businesses as our nation responds to the COVID19 pandemic.’

“As NAM explains, ‘There have been many well-intentioned actions to shutter all businesses in certain localities, and the result has unfortunately adversely impacted operations for the supply chain. In addition, we are working at the direction of the White House’s Pandemic Task Force and the Department of Health and Human Services to mobilize manufacturers to convert production lines at facilities across the commonwealth to be repurposed for critical supplies, and they cannot do so if closed.’

“Second, the governor’s haphazard list of which manufacturers can or cannot operate leaves paper product makers without timber, steelmakers without coal to use for coke, specialty metals manufacturers without paints, coatings, and solvents, etc. Manufacturers rely on extensive supply chains for industrial inputs and equally elaborate distribution networks to deliver their products to consumers. Any break in those chains will prevent ‘life-sustaining’ goods from reaching end users. The governor’s order is in direct contradiction to the guidance issued earlier today by the Cyber-Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (U.S. Department of Homeland Security).

“Third, the governor’s demand that businesses shut down indefinitely on two hours’ notice fails to recognize the physical reality of modern industrial practices. For example, some of our manufacturers have industrial furnaces that must be kept hot; telling them to immediately shut down operations means permanently damaging or destroying those industrial facilities. To fight this pandemic, America will need all of our industrial capacity. A panicked order to suspend all operations is wasteful and ill-considered.

“In a time of crisis, the most important quality of leadership is calm. Governor Wolf’s order from earlier this evening was not discussed beforehand with any of the stakeholders who could have explained the flaws in his plan, which could have been corrected prior to alarming the public.

“There is time enough against the coming troubles for Pennsylvania’s manufacturers to protect the workforce, retool to produce critical supplies, and continue operations to serve our customers. Governor Wolf must revise his hasty executive order to reflect these urgent priorities.”

Founded in 1909 by Bucks County industrialist Joseph Grundy, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association is the Harrisburg-based statewide trade organization representing the manufacturing sector in Pennsylvania’s public policy process. To learn more about PMA and its work, visit