Senator angered by uniforms made in China

Angered by Team America donning opening ceremony uniforms made in China, a U.S. legislator is introducing a measure aimed at perfection — requiring the federal government to purchase apparel that is 100 percent American made instead of 51 percent.

“The U.S. Olympic Committee outsourced Team America’s uniforms for the opening ceremony and USOC’s use of Chinese-made apparel is particularly egregious due to the ongoing and unfair competition that the Chinese pose to American manufacturers,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Wednesday during a media teleconference. “When it comes to cheating trade laws, China would get the gold medal.

“It is unconscionable that the Olympic Committee would hand over the production of the uniforms displayed by our athletes to a country that flouts international trade law, manipulates its currency and basically just cheats on trade,” the first-term senator said. “We need answers and that is why I requested the Olympic Committee hold a domestic sourcing summit with U.S. apparel manufacturers after the London games are completed. It makes no sense that an American organization would place a Chinese-made beret on our finest athletes when we still have capacity in the U.S. to make high-end apparel.”

Brown met Wednesday with USOC Chairman Scott Blackmun and Chairman of the Board Larry Probst to discuss switching to American-made uniforms, which would utilize American tax dollars to support American jobs. The cost of the men’s opening ceremony uniforms cost $1,945 each and the women’s uniforms cost $1,473 each.

Brown’s proposed legislation, the Wear American Act of 2012, would revise an existing law requiring that 51 percent of federal agency purchases of textiles and apparel be made on products made in the United States, and require that textile and apparel articles acquired for use by federal agencies be manufactured from articles, materials, or supplies entirely grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States. It would provide flexibility to federal agencies in the event that such textiles and apparel are either not sufficient or unavailable for production in the United States.

The bill is receiving bipartisan support.

“Manufacturing helped make this country great,” Brown said. “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.

“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,” he said. “With our widening trade deficit, we should be doing everything we can to support American manufacturing and job creation.”

Nanette Lepore, a Youngstown native, who utilizes American manufacturing facilities to make her clothing line, and Lawson Nickol, who is the founder of All American Clothing Company in Darke County, joined Brown on the media conference call. Nickol addressed the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee Wednesday morning on the issue.

Nickol started his company after he learned his previous employer was outsourcing work to Mexico. Nickol’s company specializes in manufacturing jeans.

“Manufacturing in the United States is an economic solution, and it has always been a smart and ethical business practice for my company,” Lepore said. “Senator Brown’s ‘Buy America’ policy is vital, and will create more jobs in the American factories that need it now.”