Union voices support for legislation banning Chinese SOEs from building rail cars AND buses.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters weighed in on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week, sending the chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees a letter outlining their priorities for the legislation.
First thing on the list? Make sure that the final legislation includes language from the Senate version of the bill that would prohibit “the use of tax dollars from supporting Chinese rail car and bus companies.” Here’s General President James P. Hoffa with more:
“As the proud representatives of American workers who both manufacture and operate thousands of American-made buses, we believe that American companies must be allowed to compete on an even playing field, free from Chinese interference into our transit system and manufacturing base.”
The Teamsters’ support for banning both rail cars and buses is significant. The Senate’s version of the NDAA included language prohibiting China’s state-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving taxpayer dollars to build rail cars and buses, but the House version of the bill only applies to rail cars.
If Congress moves forth with the House version, it would be a huge oversight, to say the least. As we’ve discussed in this space before, there’s widespread bipartisan economic and national security concern about China’s role in building both.
First, there’s the threat to 750 companies and 90,000 jobs up and down the transportation supply chain, as China is aiming to dominate rail car and bus manufacturing via its “Made in China 2025” plan. China heavily subsidizes its state-owned and controlled companies, allowing them to severely underbid on government contracts to build these systems. The point isn’t to make money — China’s ultimate goal is to put competitors out of business and monopolize the global industry.
If you don’t think that’s realistic, just look at what has happened to the pharmaceutical industry.
“When you can subsidize, when you can wholly own an enterprise like China does, you can create a wholly unlevel playing field,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) recently told the New York Times. “We’re used to that unlevel playing field existing between the U.S. and China, but now it’s happening in our own backyard.”
There also are significant national security threats, including fears that China will use advanced surveillance technology like facial recognition to track Americans on our own transit systems. This isn’t far-fetched, given that China already tracks its own citizens this way. And then there are additional worries about freight rail, given that the Defense Department uses freight to transport equipment and other sensitive materials.
The legislation now sits in conference, where Senate and House negotiators will decide which version of the bill to move forward. Like the Teamsters, we encourage Members of Congress to go with the Senate version —U.S. taxpayer money should not sacrifice American jobs to support the ambitions of the Chinese state.