FTC Commissioner Calls for Tougher Penalties Against False “Made in USA” Claims

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher/Writer, AAM

It’s truly dismaying to see companies exploit the value and integrity of the “Made in USA” label in their marketing all while importing their products from countries like China. But, even more upsetting, is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been letting these companies off the hook with little more than a slap on the wrist for decades.

Four companies, including Patriot Pucks and Sand Piper, came under scrutiny for their false “Made in USA” labeling this year, but they join a horde of others that have abused the label in the past.

We’ve had more than enough of this deception and complacency, and so has FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra.

Following a FTC vote Tuesday to offer Patriot Pucks and Sand Piper no-money, no-fault settlements despite the fact that these companies were found to have violated federal lawregarding labeling, Chopra issued a statement outlining how the FTC can actually defend the “Made in USA” label.

As Chopra writes, American manufacturers often make sacrifices in order to produce domestically and lose the advantages of “Made in USA” marketing when importers claim the label.

“Almost 8 in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an America-made product than an imported one,” a 2015 Consumer Reports survey found. The survey also found that, though products manufactured domestically may come with a higher price tag, consumers are willing to foot a bigger bill in order to buy these goods – something Sand Piper and Patriot Puck both exploited in marketing their products imported from China and Mexico as “Made in USA.”

In the past, the FTC has deemed a warning to cease falsely advertising products as made in America as sufficient punishment. But, Chopra urges the FTC to “activate a legal switch to ‘turn on’ civil penalties for the first offense.” From thereon out, each violation can invoke $42,530 in fines.

To activate this civil penalty authority and thus more easily impose fines for violators, Chopra recommends that the FTC codify its “Made in USA” labeling standard, which requires that “all or virtually all” of a product’s parts and processing are of U.S.-origin. Not only would this further strengthen the FTC’s ability to impose fines, but it would also offer further clarity for companies who wish to use the label legitimately.

Defending the “Made in USA” label and the American manufacturers who rely on it feels like common sense to us, to say the least. If the FTC truly wants to deter further fraud, violators must be held to account. Join us in calling on the FTC to impose tougher rules and actual penalties on companies that attempt to swindle consumers with false “Made in USA” marketing.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!