U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that he has made good on a pledge he made to New Jersey apparel manufacturers three years ago to restore the Cotton Trust Fund, save American jobs and level the playing field with foreign competitors. (Photos below.) In addition, as a result of the Senator's efforts, Team USA will be wearing uniforms "Made in America" at the Sochi Winter Games.
"It was a long and tough road filled with many fits and starts," Sen. Menendez said, "But finally we can say that "Made in America' is more than just a catchy slogan. It's a reality."
Sen. Menendez's measure, first introduced in 2011, was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed in Congress this week. It is expected to help preserve thousands of American manufacturing jobs, including hundreds in New Jersey.
"With the passing of this bill, it gives our shop the chance to regain a market share lost to off-shore manufacturers," said Mitch Gambert, Director of Business Development at Newark-based Gambert Shirts. "It will also make possible the room for growth in our business, opening the door to more employment opportunities."
Currently, many foreign manufacturers enjoy duty-free treatment for imports of finished dress shirts while U.S. shirt manufacturers pay tariffs as high as 13.5 percent on imported cotton shirting fabrics. In order to level the playing field for American workers, Sen. Menendez called for the re-creation of the Cotton Trust Fund, which was created to correct the duty penalty that favored foreign manufacturers over domestic manufacturers, but expired in 2009. The fund reimburses domestic manufacturers for higher duties paid on imported raw material.
Rich Gonzalez, chief financial officer of Perth Amboy-based Individualized Shirts added, "Because of Senator Menendez, our company is more secure and our workers' jobs are more secure."
After it was learned that Team USA was not wearing American-made outfits during the 2012 London Summer Games, Sen. Menendez led 11 other Senators in introducing legislation that required our country's best athletes to wear ceremonial uniforms with the "Made in America" label.
"My goal was to ensure that while our Olympians and Paralympians are representing the best of American athleticism and sportsmanship, they also proudly represent the best of American manufacturing and workmanship," said Sen. Menendez.
Sen. Menendez made his announcement today at both Gambert Shirts and Individualized Shirts, where he met with their workers and personally thanked them for their efforts to strengthen American manufacturing. He had visited both locations in 2011 when he first introduced the the Cotton Trust Fund legislation.
"Restoring the Cotton Trust Fund is a huge victory for American manufacturing and American jobs," Sen. Menendez said. "I'm happy to be able to say: I kept my promise. I'm happy to protect jobs in this industry, in this state, and to be able to point to a product and proudly say to New Jersey and the world--"Made in America.'"