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Parkdale Mills gets active with national petition

Published 1:36pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keeping textiles statewide is getting attention on both national and local level.

Congressional leaders recently released a letter backed by the National Council of Textile Organizations to the United States Trade Representative, signed by 167 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including local Rep. Mike Rogers. The letter calls for strong textile rules, particularly urging the USTR to maintain its position on the “yarn forward rule-of-origin” which “has a proven track record of job creation in the U.S and our free trade areas, and … is responsible for hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing workers.”

Citizens at Parkdale Mills set up a tent and tables Friday to try to get signatures for a petition backing the letter – joining an initiative that is supported by Parkdale Mills company-wide.

When Sandra Fuller with the Economic Development

Alliance drove by the petitioners early Friday, she wasn’t sure what was going on – she said she initially thought the plant was closing.

“What they’re saying is we want to be sure we don’t go offshore,” Fuller said. “We want to see them continue to have jobs here and continue to create jobs here.”

Fuller said she and the EDA are glad to see Parkdale Mills taking initiative to support the letter from the House.

“We know too well what its like when a textile company downsizes to go offshore and what it does to a community,” Fuller said. “We certainly want to support Parkdale Mills.”

The letter from the U.S. House, addressed to Ambassador Michael Froman, addresses the issues that would arise if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agrees to terms set by the Vietnamese government regarding textile negotiations.

“I strongly support the yarn-forward rule in this agreement and call on foreign governments to negotiate in good faith so that East Alabama’s workers can compete on a level playing field,” said Rep. Mike Rogers in a statement.

The yarn forward rule, according to the letter, “ensures that only textile and apparel manufacturers within a particular free trade region, such as the proposed TPP, get benefits from the agreement.”

The letter goes on to say that if Vietnam gets its way, “over $10 billion of current U.S. textile exports would be lost, and more than a million workers in fragile economies would see their livelihoods destroyed.”

“We strongly believe … that a final agreement must preserve and create investment in U.S. manufacturing and jobs, particularly in small and medium-sized businesses,” the letter proclaims.