Oct 07 2003

Textile Workers at Two Upstate Textile Companies Qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced displaced employees at RST&B Curtain and Drapery in Woodruff and Conso International in Union are eligible to receive trade adjustment assistance (TAA). The Department of Labor has certified that both companies have suffered losses due to increased foreign imports and cheap foreign labor. TAA benefits help provide displaced workers with job retraining, educational advancement, resume writing and relocation assistance. Both companies also qualify for alternative trade adjustment assistance, a special program that benefits workers over the age of fifty. “These programs help soften the blow of job losses due to the unfair trade practices,” said Graham. “This is a perfect example of why we need to end trade abuses and enforce fair labor standards with all of our trade partners. We are simply asking for a fair playing field. American workers are hard-working and smart. When given the chance to compete in a fair market, no one can even come close.” Graham noted that manufacturing companies in South Carolina have been hard hit by unfair competition, much of it from China. The Senate recently passed a resolution he sponsored calling on the Chinese to stop undervaluing their currency. Some economists estimate that the yuan is now undervalued by as much as 40 percent. The undervaluation of the yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive for foreigners, and it makes foreign products more expensive for Chinese consumers. The effective result is a significant subsidization of China's exports and a virtual tariff on foreign imports. Undervalued currency and the efforts of the Chinese government to intervene in the yuan’s value violate the rules of the World Trade Organization. Graham has also taken a lead role in pushing the Schumer-Bunning-Graham bill through the Senate. This legislation would impose a 27.5 percent tariff on all Chinese imports if they do not put an end to their currency manipulation. In addition, it would allow the President to remove sanctions once he certifies that China has moved to a market-based currency. The tariffs would kick in after a grace period of 180 days to ensure that Treasury officials have adequate time to work with the Chinese to institute reforms. Graham and several other Senators also circulated a letter to Senate colleagues seeking support for action against China. The letter invited members to sign a letter to President Bush urging him to initiate the China special textile safeguard and take other actions to protect American textile companies from Chinese abuses. “I will continue to fight for South Carolina’s manufacturing jobs in South Carolina and across the nation,” said Graham. “Our manufacturing and textile economy has been hard-hit by unfair, foreign competition and it’s past time for it to stop.” Employees of RST&B and Conso should visit their local ‘One-Stop Center’ for more information on how to receive TAA benefits. There are ‘One-Stop’ locations in Spartanburg and Union. ####