The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) toasted author Beth Macy on Friday in our Washington office to celebrate National Manufacturing Day 2014. Along with signing books and meeting with guests, the New York Times bestselling author chatted with us about her book, “Factory Man,” and its protagonist, third-generation furniture maker John Bassett III.
At a time when most furniture makers sent their production overseas, Bassett fought to keep his business Made in America. Bassett succeeded after filing what was then the largest anti-dumping petition in history against China, which he won.
And, as Macy notes, by filing that trade case Bassett earned the respect of his workers:
When he first filed the anti-dumping petition, that’s when they really took him seriously, and that’s when they really started to find hope. And they actually upped their production, too, because they were like, ‘If he’s working that hard, we’re going to work hard, too.’
Today, the Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company employs 700 American manufacturing workers (and has pretty much single-handedly kept the town of Galax, Va., afloat).
Sadly, stories like that of John Bassett are few and far in between. While Bassett saved his company, more than 63,000 factories have been closed in the United States since 2001. A lot of towns once like Galax are now devastated, and a lot of manufacturing workers are either out of work or stuck in low-paying jobs.
We can learn a lot of Bassett’s story, as it reaffirms the importance of enforcing our trade laws, which are the last line of defense for American manufacturers and their workers. And there are other things that policymakers can do to support American manufacturers like Bassett, including ending currency manipulation and preparing a National Manufacturing Strategy.