Senators Tell the Federal Trade Commission to Get Tougher on “Made in the USA” Cheats

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Nearly 4,000 people signed onto our action last week urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to impose tougher penalties on companies that falsely label their imported products as “Made in USA.”

It turns out a few Senators also sent a similar message of their own to the agency.

Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), and Chris Murphy (Conn.) sent a letter to the FTC on Oct. 12 to “express our concerns with ‘no-fault, no-money’ settlements for ‘Made in the USA’ labeling violations” and “urge the Commission to take all steps necessary to protect the integrity of the label.” The trio continue:

“Consumers view American-made goods more positively and are often willing to pay a higher price for them. In addition, consumers may be less likely to have health or quality concerns about a product when its true country of origin is concealed. If the consequences of misusing the “Made in the USA” label do not include paying fines or admitting wrongdoing, it is unlikely that these and other companies will be deterred from using the same deceptive tactics to sell their products in the future.” 

The senators specifically were responding to recent rulings by the FTC that found three individual companies labeled their products as “Made in USA” but actually imported them from countries like China.

In one case, the company Sandpiper/PiperGear USA made military-themed backpacks and other patriotic gear, which it sold on military bases overseas. Sandpiper placed an American-made label on its stuff, even though the company's products actually were made in China or Mexico. In another case, mattress company Nectar Sleep falsely represented its products as assembled in the U.S., even though they are made in China.

Then there’s hockey puck maker Patriot Puck, which positioned itself as “the all-American alternative to imported pucks,” draped its pucks in the American flag and claimed its pucks were 100% American-made. The pucks were imported from China.  

Although the FTC found that the companies had deceived consumers, the agency didn’t do much about it. None of the settlements with the three companies above included any monetary relief, notice to consumers, or even an admission of wrongdoing from the companies.

That didn’t sit well with us, nor did it sit well with FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra, who wrote a dissenting statement on the FTC settlement. And it didn’t sit well with Baldwin, Brown, and Murphy, who urged the FTC to “require the companies in these cases to pay fines and admit they lied.”

“Failure to take decisive action risks weakening the significance of the ‘Made in the USA’ label and undermining American manufacturers,” the senators added.

An open comment period on the FTC’s action in these cases ended on Friday. We’ll keep you updated with any new developments.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

From the USW

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted last week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work