Washington, D.C. – Buying foreign-made rail cars for the nation’s capital subway system is drawing heat from over a dozen organizations that are urging Metro to Buy American, which would create thousands of American jobs and boost American companies in the railcar manufacturing supply chain during a time of economic crisis.
Fifteen organizations spanning the labor, business, and environmental sectors sent a letter on Tuesday to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors, pressing them to reverse an apparent decision to import new rail cars and instead support U.S. workers and businesses and apply Buy America provisions.
“Our nation’s capital transit system, a key piece of infrastructure, should exemplify Buy America and showcase the best this country can build,” said Brian Lombardozzi, vice president for state governmental affairs at the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “Metro should take the lead and not run away from laws that ensure U.S.-made trains run on Washington, D.C., tracks.”
WMATA is planning to use an accounting gimmick known as “segmentation” to bypass Buy America when it buys its next series of up to 800 new rail cars. Although WMATA receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding – which comes with domestic procurement rules attached – it says it will use state and local money to buy the new rail cars, allowing the agency to import the vehicles instead.
Researchers say that at least 750 U.S. companies make parts for transit rail, and America’s rail supply chains support 125,000 jobs directly and 650,000 indirectly.
The letter’s signatories tell WMATA:
“At a time when the COVID-19 related economic fallout has cost tens of millions of Americans their jobs and over seven hundred thousand manufacturing workers have already been laid off, your decision to evade Buy America requirements represents a missed opportunity to put taxpayer dollars to work creating and supporting jobs in factories across the country. WMATA’s arbitrary assertion that it is funding this procurement solely from funds it receives from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia is particularly galling in light of WMATA’s much needed recent financial injection of more than a half billion dollars of federal taxpayer money.”
Organizations that signed onto the letter include:
Alliance for American Manufacturing
Amalgamated Transit Union
American Foundry Society
American Institute of Steel Construction
American Iron and Steel Institute
American Line Pipe Producers Association
Blue Green Alliance
Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Municipal Castings Association
Rail Security Alliance
Steel Manufacturers Association
Transport Workers Union
United Auto Workers
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