Mad about Obama’s Nike speech? Support a footwear manufacturer that is Keeping it Made in America.
In a truly dumbfounding move, President Obama is expected to give a speech on Friday at Nike headquarters as part of his push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), arguing the trade deal will benefit American workers. (Spoiler: Unless it strengthens trade enforcement and stops currency manipulation, it will not.)
The whole thing is just bizarre, as Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) President Scott Paul wrote in the Huffington Post on Thursday. Nike barely produces anything at all in the United States. Virtually all of the company’s shoes are made overseas in countries like China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. And those workers are often children as young as 10 who work for 60 cents a day in unsafe labor conditions, AAM’s Luke Lorenz noted on our own blog on Thursday.
Basically, Nike is the A+ case study in how not to do trade.
We could go on forever about how terrible the president’s decision to speak at Nike headquarters is (and we’re certainly not alone in our criticism). But we want to think positive — so we want to shine the spotlight on a company that is doing the right thing.
New Balance assembles more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear in the United States every year, including its popular 990 line. Customers can even be part of the manufacturing process by custom designing their own athletic shoe, picking out the style and color on the New Balance website.
Although New Balance still imports a big chunk of its merchandise, its Made in America line employs hundreds of workers throughout New England, including 700 in Maine alone.
"I don't expect a wave of footwear jobs to come back to our shores. But I also don't expect our government to actively put a company like New Balance, which produces great running shoes in Maine and Massachusetts, at a competitive disadvantage." Scott Paul
The real-world impact of the New Balance’s decision to maintain a manufacturing presence in the United States is clear in a video posted to the company’s website, which features New Balance workers thanking customers who buy the American-made footwear.
“That is the true form of patriotism. It’s creating jobs so other people can support their families, send their kids to school,” one New Balance employee notes.
Adds another: “You’re helping me, my family, and many other families in this country thrive, not just survive.”
Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), we aren’t just talk when it comes to New Balance, either. Everyone on staff has a pair of the American-made kicks — I personally have a gray pair of the 990s, which I find have made for a great gym shoe.
But nobody can beat our Scott Paul, who owns a whopping 19 pairs of the American-made shoes (18 of which are seen in the photo above).
“I love that company,” Paul wrote in the Huffington Post. “But I'm constantly afraid that the next pair of shoes I buy may be among the last pair the company is able to make in America. It will be horrible shame if trade policy contributes to that loss.”
Companies like New Balance are why we’re working so hard to level the playing field for American workers by pushing Congress to strengthen our trade laws and stop unfair currency cheating.
"I don't expect a wave of footwear jobs to come back to our shores," Paul wrote. "But I also don't expect our government to actively put a company like New Balance, which produces great running shoes in Maine and Massachusetts, at a competitive disadvantage by [further] empowering the importing competition."
In the past two weeks alone, nearly 100,000 Americans have already joined the effort for strong trade laws — and we hope you will, too. And the next time you are looking for an athletic shoe, make sure New Balance’s Made in the USA collection is at the top of your shopping list.