Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Flatware made overseas is labeled as "Made in America," misleading federal agencies and consumers, Sen. Chuck Schumer says.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the government’s official purchasing website is posting misleading information about its products – and he wants the agency in charge to conduct a “timely and thorough review” to get things right.

Schumer is asking GSA Advantage to review flatware with a Made in America label after the website inaccurately labeled flatware that was actually made overseas. Mislabeled products can have a negative impact on companies that do manufacture their goods in the United States, including a company in Schumer’s home state.

“Sherrill Manufacturing, which has launched its own brand, Liberty Tabletop, has adopted a business model that includes promoting the uniqueness of the company’s high quality, American-made flatware,” Schumer writes in a letter to the General Service Administration, which oversees the website. “It has come to my attention, however that the GSA Advantage website lists several other flatware manufacturers’ products as ‘Made in America’ even though they are not; in fact, some of those manufacturers do not even label the products as ‘Made in America’ on their own company websites.”

Schumer adds: “GSA should conduct a timely and thorough review of the list of American-made flatware on the GSA Advantage website, because improperly labeled products could have an impact on the business of companies that do manufacture their products in America.”

Proper Made in America labeling is a big deal to companies like Sherrill Manufacturing. Sherrill employs 40 people in a factory once owned and operated by Oneida, which moved its production overseas in 2004. As The New York Times reported last year, Sherrill functions as a direct-sales business for customers seeking American-made products, including the military and other U.S. government agencies.

Many federal agencies and consumers wish to support US businesses by buying American-made products; if they are searching for American-made flatware options on the GSA Advantage website, they may be misled. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Sherrill already competes with companies that abandoned American workers to build plants overseas. It is unfair that they must also compete with companies that make their goods overseas and then mislabel their products as being Made in America to appeal to American consumers.

Since 95 percent of voters view Made In America products favorably, that Made in America label can make or break a company like Sherrill.

This isn’t the first time improper labeling has mislead consumers. Element Electronics put American flags on its television boxes and actively advertised them as being “assembled in the USA.” But in reality, most of the work was actually done in China. After the Alliance for American Manufacturing asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter, the company made appropriate changes and toned things down.

Here’s hoping appropriate changes also are made on the GSA Advantage website.

Schumer gets it right: “Many federal agencies and consumers wish to support US businesses by buying American-made products; if they are searching for American-made flatware options on the GSA Advantage website, they may be misled.”

Read the entire letter.