Labor Union UNITE Joins Textile/Fiber Coalition

More than 70 textile/fiber industry senior executives and officials with the labor union UNITE announced a grassroots lobbying campaign in support of the unified textile/fiber coalition’s campaign to slow the surge of job-destroying Chinese imports.

September 3, 2003
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

New York, NY – More than 70 textile/fiber industry senior executives, including a number of CEOs, and officials with the labor union UNITE announced a grassroots lobbying campaign in support of the unified textile/fiber coalition’s campaign to slow the surge of job-destroying Chinese imports.

UNITE, which is a union representing 250,000 apparel, textile, laundry and distribution workers in the United States and Canada, also formally announced today that it has joined the coalition.

Companies and union officials from New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. attended the event.

William E. Giblin, president of Tweave Inc. and chairman of the National Textile Association, stated, "Nearly every segment of the U.S. textile, fiber, and apparel manufacturing sector has come together in a united fashion to lobby in support of the China textile safeguard petitions filed on July 24th. We would especially like to welcome UNITE to the coalition. All of us are rolling up our sleeves and pulling on the same rope in this grassroots advocacy campaign."

"We look forward to working hand-in-hand with textile and apparel industry management to change U.S. trade policy for the better," said Bruce Raynor, President of UNITE. "It is unacceptable for countries like China, that don't respect basic human rights or environmentalstandards, to flood our market, destroy entire industries, and put hundreds of thousands of men and women out of work."

"The closure of Pillowtex on July 31st is a good illustration of what's wrong with current trade policy. 6,450 hardworking Americans lost their jobs in an instant. The average employee was 46.1 years old. Many are losing their homes, and few jobs are in sight. They now join over 810,000 U.S. textile and apparel workers who have lost their jobs since December 1994 – that’s over half of the textile and apparel workers in this country whose jobs have disappeared in less than nine years. Free trade isn’t helping America; it is destroying it. Free trade is outsourcing many of our best jobs to sweatshops overseas and bleeding the country to death," concluded Raynor.

George Shuster, CEO of Cranston Print Works, said, "Since January 2001, more than 300,000 textile and apparel jobs have been lost. Moreover, the United States ran a $61 billion trade deficit in textile and apparel goods in 2002. If the federal government refuses to change the flawed trade policies that generated those numbers, the U.S. textile and apparel industry is in grave danger."

"The job losses and the trade deficit are why the companies attending this press conference have pledged to hold voter registration drives to make sure that 100 percent of the eligible voters working at their respective companies are registered to vote," remarked Gail Strickler, CEO of Saxon Textile Corp.

Bill Horowitz, CEO of The Amerbelle Corporation, bluntly said, "Our trade negotiators have turned a blind eye to China’s tactics - illegal transshipments, illegal currency manipulation and illegal government subsidies, all of which the importers claim to be ‘fair trade.’ At a time when our nation is at war, even our ability to clothe and supply our armed forces has been significantly diminished as hundreds of U.S. companies have been forced to close. The American people are starting to awaken to the disastrous consequences of our current trade policies, and they are demanding action from our elected officials. Rhetoric will not do – we need results."

John Emrich, CEO of Guilford Mills, continued, "There is a mechanism, the special China textile safeguard, that can slow job-destroying Chinese imports. We intend to generate as many individualized e-mails and letters as we can from textile and apparel industry employees to the Congress and the President in support of the China safeguard petitions filed on July 24."

Albert Safer, CEO of Safer Textile Processing, stated, "During the last five years we have closed and consolidated five plants – one each in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and New Jersey. While we still employ around 600 people in New Jersey and 120 in Tennessee, all of these remaining jobs are at risk because of Chinese imports. It is simply not fair to ask us to compete with $.40 cents/hour labor, currency manipulation, transshipment and other illegal trade practices. We will lobby our federal, state and local officials to support our campaign to save what is left of the U.S. textile and apparel industry."

Gaylon Booker, Immediate Past President of the National Cotton Council, concluded, "Farmers are being hurt by the destruction of the U.S. manufacturing industry too. Domestic mill consumption of cotton is down by approximately 40 percent. When U.S. manufacturers like Pillowtex are forced into bankruptcy, U.S. cotton farmers are losing their best customers."

The textile/fiber coalition petitioned the U.S. government on July 24th to invoke the special China textile safeguard and slow the surge of Chinese imports on knit fabric, dressing gowns and brassieres.

The U.S. trade deficit with China in textile and apparel products has jumped 45.4 percent in the first five months of 2003.

China uses currency practices -- that are illegal under world trade rules -- to give its products an estimated 40 percent advantage over U.S. produced textile and apparel goods. The U.S. government has thus far refused to take action against China regarding these practices. China also heavily subsidizes its textile sector, the largest in the world. Over one-third of China's textile output last year came from money-losing operations.

Approximately 750,000 Americans are classified as textile and apparel manufacturing workers.

Members of the textile/fiber coalition are:

  • American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC)
  • American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI)
  • National Textile Association (NTA)
  • American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA)
  • American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA)
  • National Cotton Council (NCC)
  • American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)
  • American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA)
  • The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)
  • The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet & Consumer Products Manufacturers (GTMA)
  • USA Domestic Manufacturers Committee of the Hosiery Association
  • Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI)
  • North Carolina Manufacturers Association (NCMA)
  • Textile Distributors Association
  • South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA)
  • American Flock Association