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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

New Lobbying Group Rallies Support

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

T extile magnate Roger Milliken and Senator Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) have launched a new initiative to save jobs in manufacturing industries affected by imports. The effort stems from a reorganization of the American Textile Trade Action Coalition (ATTAC), formed last year by the textile union UNITE and some textile manufacturers who were unhappy with the textile industry’s lobbying efforts in Washington.

At ATTAC’s annual meeting in March, the union and labor representatives decided to go their separate ways when the coalition decided it needed to broaden its base and attract more industries in order to be more effective in its anti-import efforts. At that time, ATTAC Chairman Milliken, chairman and CEO of Milliken & Company, said it was “absolutely vital that the coalition represent a much greater segment of the US industrial base.”

Bruce Rainor, president of UNITE, said that while he remains committed to the textile and apparel trade goals of ATTAC, he believes the union can be more effective working through the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Council, which involves other industries. The reconstituted, manufacturing-only coalition is named the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC).

Shortly after AMTAC was formed, Senator Hollings took steps to implement the coalition’s goals — and some of his own — by introducing in Congress his “Save American Manufacturing Act of 2003.” Hollings said the act is designed to stem the export of manufacturing jobs, combat the flood of imports and stimulate manufacturing in the United States for textiles and other industries, which he said have lost 2 million jobs in the past two years — some 25,000 of which were in textiles this past year.

The far-ranging bill calls for a number of changes in tax and international trade regulations and laws. It would, for example, eliminate tax benefits associated with off-shore production, whether by a US- or foreign-based company. It would prevent the Export-Import Bank or overseas private investment corporations from funding any project that does not contain at least 80-percent US content, and it would eliminate tax incentives for companies to move their headquarters outside of the United States.

In addition, the bill would eliminate the International Trade Commission, and it calls for an additional 500 Customs agents to enforce the tariff and quota rules associated with textile trade. It also would extend to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security the Buy America procurement requirements for the Defense Department. Many of the bill’s provisions are likely to run into stiff opposition, but Hollings and AMTAC hope the broader coalition can garner enough strength to get a start on “rejuvenating the American manufacturer."

EPA Sets New Standards For Dyeing And Finishing

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) new national emissions standard, regulating what it believes are hazardous air pollutants from textile dyeing and finishing operations, could create problems for some processes, particularly some coating operations, which may have to install new control devices.

The regulation will require dyeing and finishing operations to reduce their hazardous emissions to the lowest levels possible with control technology, a process known as Major Achievable Control Technology (MACT). The agency says the standard is designed to reduce hazardous pollutant emissions by 4,100 tons per year, or about 60 percent from the baseline emissions. The regulation will become effective as soon as it is published in the Federal Register.

The impact of the regulation was reduced after the EPA incorporated a number of recommendations from textile manufacturers, including a proposal to permit a 12-month rolling average for measuring pollutants. That provision takes into consideration seasonal product changes and other short-term manufacturing processes.

Listed as hazardous pollutants (HAP) are toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, methanol, zylenes, methyl isobutyl ketone, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene, n-hexane, glycol ethers and formaldehyde. The EPA says there are approximately 135 major source facilities in the printing, coating and dyeing of fabrics that use these chemicals. Exposure to these substances has been demonstrated to cause adverse health effects including irritation of eyes, lungs and mucous membranes; harmful effects on the central nervous system; and liver damage. Methylene chloride and trichloroethylene are suspected to be carcinogens. While the chemicals are considered hazardous, the EPA says it does not at this time have sufficient data to determine the extent of the threat the chemicals pose to the populations surrounding facilities where they are being used.

The rule applies to anyone who owns or operates a fabric or other textile coating, printing, slashing, dyeing or finishing operation, as long as some part of the operation results in the emission of the hazardous pollutants.

Consumer Agency To Act On Upholstered Furniture Flammability Standard

Hal Stratton, chairman of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), said action on a new flammability standard for upholstered furniture has dragged on entirely too long, and he plans to wrap it up this year. The commission has been working on a proposed standard for eight years, much to the consternation of the textile industry and consumer advocacy groups.

Stratton said, “We are going to do something. I don’t know what it will be, but it will be worked out this year.” He also said his agency is moving forward on a mattress flammability standard. In addition, he believes that while no such petition currently exists, his agency should also be looking at regulating bed clothing, stating bedding flammability hazards need to be addressed “in the overall scheme of things.”

May 2003