Rob DeMartini, New Balance President & CEO, joined several members of Congress and the RFPMA (Rubber and Plastic Footwear
Manufacturers Association) on Capitol Hill Wednesday to highlight the
importance of supporting domestic footwear manufacturing. Martini said, “New Balance is proud to make shoes in the U.S. despite the inherent
challenges that caused the rest of the athletic footwear industry to
move all of their production offshore.”
The event was set in light of ongoing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and proposed changes to U.S. trade policy.
DeMartini added, “We recognize the great work that our manufacturing associates do every day and we hope that the Administration will take the appropriate steps to foster and protect domestic manufacturing. There is a national conversation on jobs and the economy and those in government having this dialogue need to recognize that thousands of jobs hang in the balance. To Senators Collins, Brown; Representatives Michaud, Neal and Tsongas and the many members like Senator Snowe, Kerry and their colleagues that support maintaining the domestic footwear manufacturing industry we thank you for your tireless efforts.”
“As our country continues to struggle with persistently high unemployment, we need to look for ways to boost domestic manufacturing and not pursue policies that will undercut American workers. Domestic footwear production accounts for more than 4,000 U.S. jobs, including nearly 900 in my home state of Maine. It is critical that the final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement not harm the manufacturers who continue to produce products here in the U.S. thus forcing even more production overseas,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
“I'm proud to stand with manufacturers in Massachusetts to raise awareness of an important issue affecting the Massachusetts economy. The needs of the rubber footwear industry should be taken into account as the Administration negotiates the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).
“Current footwear tariffs level the playing field and they’re essential to keeping the doors to New Balance’s factories open. They make it possible for 4,000 American workers in the U.S. footwear sector to keep their jobs, and they raised $19 billion in revenues over 10 years. Whether it’s concerns over our debt, jobs, or our economic recovery, eliminating these footwear tariffs would be a terrible mistake on so many levels,” said Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME).
“Massachusetts has a lengthy and strong history of garment and textile manufacturing, and New Balance proudly carries on that tradition as a model American manufacturer that provides well-paying, skilled jobs. We must work to strike a better balance between the need to open access to new markets for American goods while ensuring that American manufacturing jobs are not simply outsourced to the lowest bidder. The success of this impressive company demonstrates that manufacturing jobs can stay here, but we need to pursue policies at the federal level that support their efforts,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
“The Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association represents more than 4,000 Americans who proudly manufacture footwear in the U.S. These jobs are dependent on smart policies that promote domestic manufacturing and recognize the unique challenges facing U.S. footwear producers. We appreciate the substantial support we have received from members of Congress for maintaining a domestic footwear industry and will continue to educate policy makers about the importance of this industry and what it means to communities across the country,” said Marc Fleischaker, trade counsel for RFPMA.
Participating New Balance associates included Raye Wentworth, New Balance Plant Manager in Norridgewock, Maine and Brendan Melly, New Balance Plant Manager in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Additional manufacturing associates who attended included Arelis Villa Roman (Lawrence factory), Elisangela Monteiro (Boston factory), George Martikke and Oscar Brann (Norridgewock factory), and Sherry Piirainen (Norway factory). New Balance store owners Tom Luck from Ohio, Wesley McCluney from Alabama/Georgia and John Strojny from Delaware/Virginia/Washington DC also attended.
New Balance is currently the only athletic shoe company that manufactures footwear in the U.S. with 25 percent of its U.S. footwear shipments produced at five New England facilities in Boston and Lawrence, Massachusetts and Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan, Maine. The company also operates a manufacturing facility in Flimby, U.K. Where the domestic value is at least 70 percnt, New Balance labels the shoe “Made in USA.” Where it falls below 70 percent, the label is qualified referencing domestic and imported materials.