U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced a new effort to boost domestic apparel and textile manufacturing Wednesday. This announcement comes in response to the news that the Olympic opening ceremony uniforms that will be worn by American athletes were made in China.
The uniforms have sparked bipartisan debate and have resulted in new commitments by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to make 2014 Olympic uniforms in America.
Brown is introducing a “Buy America” plan to ensure that the federal government buys apparel that is 100 percent American-made. Current requirements state that only 51 percent of apparel purchased by the government has to be “made in America.”
This apparel is purchased by the government with U.S. taxpayer dollars. These requirements exist despite an influx of counterfeit military equipment in the American supply chain purchased from Chinese companies.
“Manufacturing helped make this country great. Good-paying manufacturing jobs have allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to buy homes, send their children to college and retire with security. But for too long, we’ve seen American manufacturing jobs—including textile and apparel jobs—shipped overseas due to unfair trade that has stacked the deck against American workers,” Brown said.
Brown’s bill, the Wear American Act of 2012, would revise an existing law that requires 51 percent of federal agency purchases of textiles and apparel be made on products made in the U.S. It would also call for textile and clothing articles used by federal agencies to be manufactured from materials entirely grown, produced or manufactured in the U.S.
“We know how to make things in America, and the textile sector employs more than half a million workers in the United States—which is why the federal government should be purchasing, whenever possible, apparel that is domestically produced. With our widening trade deficit, we should be doing everything we can to support American manufacturing and job creation,” Brown said.
Brown has called on the U.S. Olympic Committee to utilize American clothing manufacturers for this year’s uniforms and use domestic clothing makers for future Olympics. This would include the 2014 Winter Games.
Senator Brown led a group of senators Wednesday on a letter to the USOC asking it to meet with American manufacturers for future USOC uniform demands, and offering to connect the USOC with these manufacturers.
Brown is the author of the Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act, a piece of legislation that represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill—at no cost to U.S. taxpayers—passed by the Senate last year. Brown also sponsors the All-American Flag Act, which requires that the federal government purchase 100 percent, U.S.-made flags. The current federal requirement is that the government buys flags that are at least 50 percent American-made.
Two years ago, Cleveland’s Hugo Boss plant was on the brink of closure. Brown has fought to bring the facility back to life and keep jobs. The Senator worked closely with Workers United along with Hugo Boss to keep the plant open. In March, Brown announced the company had ratified a new, three-year labor contract that has preserved more than 150 manufacturing jobs.