Two Countries, Two Red and White Flags, One Trade Deal?

“I don’t even know what street Canada is on,” Al Capone once said. But Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is determined to make sure he puts Canada on the map with one key global power: Japan.

Map courtesy of About.com

If he accomplishes his goal, it could have ramifications for the automobile industry, agriculture and the Midwest in general.

Harper opened negotiations this weekend with Japan on a free trade agreement. Negotiators were careful to caution against any quick resolution, because it can take years to negotiate such deals, and Japan isn’t known for speedy decision making.

But, a Canada-Japan trade agreement would join one between Japan and Mexico — and leave the United States as the only North American country without one.  Continue reading “Two Countries, Two Red and White Flags, One Trade Deal?”

Arriving in a New Land, Alone at Seventeen

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We’re asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We’ll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They’ll also appear at changinggears.info and we’ll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

In the early 1900’s our widowed great grandmother, Soledad Perez, left the USA and went back to La Piedad in Mexico to raise her four daughters: Luz, Angelina, Esther & Carmen.

In the winter of 1948 my mother, Esther, a young newly married 17 year-old, found herself in a Mexican border town boarding a train headed for the USA. Her husband (my father Antonio Ramirez Manzo) gave her an address of a Catholic parish in Detroit, MI.

My father had to stay at the border until his papers were fixed. My mother was alone and frightened but she came to the USA for a better future. She spoke no English and knew no one. But still, this frightened young seventeen year old came back to the country she was born in.

My father’s family comes from Sahuayo, Michuacan. His family surname Manzo is Italian. Many Manzos come from Colima, Mexico. My mothers family comes from La Piedad, Michuacan. Her father’s surname Perez is Spanish.
My father played guitar and sang traditional classical Mexican music. He retired from Ford Motor Company, but also supported our family with his music. He would play traditional Mexican music at social events & at the El Nibble Nook in Livonia, MI for many years.
-Carlos Manzo

U.S. Workers Rank 14th On List That Measures Hourly Compensation For Manufacturing Employees

How much do employees in the U.S. manufacturing industry make compared to their counterparts in other countries?

A new study released by the U.S. Labor Department says Americans receive an average of $34.74 per hour, the 14th highest hourly compensation among countries measured. Norway topped the chart at $57.53 per hour, followed by Switzerland and Belgium.

Canada ranked one spot ahead of the United States, averaging $35.67 per hour. Mexico ranked 33rd among the 34 countries measured at $6.23.

China and India were notably absent from the list. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were data gaps and deviations from international standards that made it difficult to forge accurate measures of manufacturing wages and overall compensation.