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Textile News

Textile Manufacturers Form New Lobbying Organization

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), which served for more than 50 years as the textile industry's central trade association, has been dissolved and has been replaced by a new broad-based organization that will concentrate on lobbying international trade and government regulation issues. The end came to ATMI as it fell on hard times as a result of deteriorating business conditions and the defection of some of its key members over policy differences. At one time, ATMI had a staff of 40 professionals and more than a dozen committees that addressed a wide range of industry issues and services. As its support declined, ATMI was reduced to a skeleton staff that dealt with trade issues and a few regulatory matters.

On March 30th, leaders of ATMI and the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA) announced formation of a much more broadly-based National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) that will include not only textile manufacturers but many of their suppliers such as fiber producers, banks, utilities, machinery manufacturers and others. NCTO's main purpose will be to lobby Congress and the administration on textile trade and environmental, safety and health, taxes and other issues that raise the cost of doing business and put the industry at a competitive disadvantage with overseas manufacturers.

Allen E. Gant Jr., president of Glen Raven,Inc., will serve as chairman and Jim Chesnutt, CEO of National Spinning Co., will serve as vice-chairman. Cass Johnson, who was serving as ATMI's acting president, will be president of the new organization. ATMI's Vice President for Government Relations Robert Dupree also will be on the staff.

At a news conference announcing formation of NCTO, Gant said the new lobbying group will serve as the central policy development and implementations body of the US textile industry and its allied product and service suppliers. He said that for the first time, a broad spectrum of textile manufacturers and other interests will be united under one roof, working together to support an industry that today provides more than 1 million jobs. Chesnutt added that NCTO will sharply focus industry efforts and supply increased resources to those trade and regulatory issues such as flammability standards and environmental regulations that are most vital to the textile industry. NCTO has 30 mostly fiber and textile charter members, but its membership is expected to be expanded to include a wide range of suppliers.

NCTO will have an 18-member board of directors and four councils Fabric and Home Products Manufacturers, Fiber Manufacturers, Yarn Manufacturers and Industry Support. Each of the councils will have an equal voice in helping to set and carry out policies.

Participants at the news conference, including several members of Congress, sounded the same battle cry, saying the US government must be a leader in developing fair trade as opposed to free trade throughout the world. They said Congress and the Bush administration must be more aggressive in using every tool at their disposal to stem the tide that has resulted in the lost of 86,300 textile jobs and extensive plant closings this past year.

April 2004