Emphasizing the importance of supporting American manufacturing, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) today spoke at Northwest Woolen Mills in Woonsocket and encouraged the United States Olympic Committee to revisit its decision to make Olympic uniforms in China.
"Like many Rhode Islanders, I was extremely disappointed when I first heard that our athletes would be wearing uniforms that were manufactured in China," said Cicilline. "It is disgraceful that Ralph Lauren and the USOC would not make skilled American labor a priority."
Last week, the USOC and designer Ralph Lauren fell under heavy criticism when it was revealed that the uniforms for this year's U.S. Olympic Team had been manufactured in China. With so many Americans still looking for work, many observers questioned the decision to outsource a project that could have kept $1 billion in the United States, according to ABC News.
With the Olympic Opening Ceremony slated for July 27th, the USOC stated last Friday that it would not be able to order new uniforms made in the United States. However, Sam Brickle, Chief Executive Officer of the Brickle Group, which produces berets for the United States Armed Forces and manages Northwest Woolen Mills, informed Cicilline that his firm would be able to deliver American-made berets for the athletes' uniforms.
"Congressman Cicilline knows that if we're going to put our economy back on the right track, we have to start making things in Rhode Island again," said Brickle. "I'm grateful for his leadership and I look forward to continuing to work with him to strengthen Rhode Island manufacturing."
During his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cicilline has focused much of his work on reinvigorating American manufacturing through the Make it in America agenda, including his Make it in America Block Grant Program Act. Earlier this month, Cicilline and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, met with Rhode Island manufacturers to discuss ways to strengthen the manufacturing sector.
"There is no substitute for American-made goods. When given the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, we know that American workers can outperform their peers around the world," added Cicilline. "With eleven days still remaining before the Opening Ceremony in London, I hope that the USOC and Ralph Lauren will reconsider the possibility of hiring American manufacturers for such a high-profile project."
More than 500 American athletes will be gathering in London, England for the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, with the Opening Ceremony slated to be held July 27th, in the newly-constructed Olympic Stadium.