Mar 21, 2016

All of the following content is from Senator Schumer’s press release on March 11, 2016.

03.11.16

Schumer Announces, Following His Push, Feds Have Removed From Gsa Website Nearly A Dozen Vendors Falsely Touting “American-Made” Products That Were Actually Produced Overseas – Schumer Pushed Feds To Conduct Review To Help Protect Jobs At CNY’s Sherill Manufacturing, America’s Only Remaining Flatware Company 

Federal GSA Advantage Program Allows Qualifying U.S. Companies To Sell Products To Fed Agencies Through Its Website, But GSA Advantage Was Listing Products From Companies That Outsource Flatware Production Overseas As “American-Made”

In January, Schumer Said This Was Misleading Buyers & Putting Sherrill Manufacturing At A Competitive Disadvantage, And Urged GSA To Investigate False Listings & Immediately Remove Them From Website – Schumer Says GSA Removed Nearly A Dozen False “Made in USA” Listings From Website, But Cautioned More Could Exist 

Schumer: “Made in the USA” Must Mean Just That; This Fix Helps Sherrill and Other American Manufacturers – But There Is Still Work To Be Done  

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, following his push, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has completed an initial review of the “Made in America” notations on its GSA Advantage website and, as a result of this investigation, removed nearly a dozen companies falsely touting that their products were “USA-made.” Schumer explained that the GSA Advantage is an online government purchasing service that allows federal agencies, as well as many state and local governments, to purchase products from various suppliers through its website.

Sherrill Manufacturing in Oneida County is one of these suppliers, and the company sells the last remaining brand of American-made flatware – called Liberty Tabletop – to government agencies through this site. However, Schumer explained the GSA Advantage website was listing several other flatware manufacturers’ products as “Made in America” when, in reality, they were produced overseas. Schumer said this was not only misleading to agencies and other customers looking to invest in companies producing American-made goods, but it threatened to put companies like Sherrill at a competitive disadvantage.

“Sherrill Manufacturing produces high-quality American-made products, and is the only company that can proudly boast that its Liberty Flatware line is truly ‘Made in the USA.’ It was flat wrong for the GSA to allow these other companies to falsely claim they were ‘Made in America’ and putting a stop to that lie will help put Sherrill on a level playing field and help protect the valuable jobs there,” said Senator Schumer. “But there is more work to be done. Consider this a warning to companies attempting to mispresent foreign made products – we will not let false labeling threaten to chip away at companies like Sherrill and the good-paying, middle-class jobs they provide. I urge other companies selling their products on the GSA Advantage to use this as a starting point to expose those who seek to undermine American workers.”

Schumer said GSA will remove a total of 11 companies that were falsely listing their products as “Made in the USA.” In January, Schumer demanded the GSA conduct a review of its “USA-made” website labels, in order to better protect companies like Sherrill and its hardworking employees. Although this was a positive first step, Schumer said other vendors could be misrepresenting their products as American-made and pledged to remain engaged with GSA to weed out any offenders. He wants other companies that use GSA Advantage to be on the lookout for products that claim to be “Made in America,” but are actually produced overseas.

Schumer explained that Sherrill Manufacturing launched its own brand, Liberty Tabletop, and adopted a business model focused around promoting the uniqueness of the company’s high quality, American-made flatware. In fact, according to the Post Standard and the New York Times, its product is currently the only American-made flatware left; all other flatware companies currently produce their products overseas. For this reason, Schumer explained there is an increased cost that comes with sourcing materials and manufacturing such a product within the U.S., as it is typically cheaper to produce in other countries. As a result, Schumer said it was unfair to Sherrill – as well as other companies that could be facing similar labeling issues across other industries – that other companies could be receiving this “Made in America” notation when they do not produce in the U.S. Schumer urged other companies that use GSA Advantage to be aware that they may be competing against falsely-labeled products.

Schumer said this mislabeling is problematic because many of the federal agencies that purchase products through the GSA Advantage program do so because they are interested in buying American-made products or, in some cases, even have agency requirements to do so. Schumer said mistakenly labeling foreign manufacturers as “Made in America” could therefore have put Sherrill at a competitive disadvantage if other companies were to reap these “USA-made” benefits when Sherrill is actually the only company producing its flatware products in the U.S. According to a New York Times October 2015 report, a few big customers – namely, the U.S. military – are the primary customers and profit-drivers for Sherrill Manufacturing. According to the report, the federal government orders around 500,000 utensils a year from Sherrill. This flatware is the sent to bases around the world; Schumer said this further highlights just how important these government contracts and purchases through services like GSA Advantage are to the Oneida County-based company.

In January, Schumer began his push to get to the bottom of this, citing that it was clear the GSA can and should be doing a better job of accounting for what is really “Made in America” and what is not in order to accurately categorize the products on its website for customers. That is why Schumer urged the GSA to closely review the companies it has given this “Made in America” label and then immediately remove those that are noted as such and are not in fact made in the U.S. Although GSA found 11 vendors that were falsely representing their flatware, Schumer said he will continue to work with GSA, Sherrill Manufacturing and other companies using GSA Advantage to uncover any other products that may be doing the same.

Schumer said the fact that the GSA completed this initial review in a timely manner and was able to remove 11 companies falsely listed as “Made in America” is particularly important for Sherrill Manufacturing, as the company is finally seeing a positive turn in profits after successfully emerging from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process it underwent in 2013. Schumer explained that Sherrill Manufacturing has resisted moving its manufacturing operation overseas, at a time when most other flatware manufacturers have relocated. At present, Sherrill Manufacturing conducts roughly $800,000 worth of business with the GSA. The company employs 40 workers and Schumer said these local jobs are critical to both the company and Oneida residents.

A copy of Schumer’s initial letter to the GSA appears below:

Dear Administrator Roth:

I write to urge you to conduct a review and remove the “Made in America” notation from flatware products listed on the US General Services Administration (GSA) Advantage website that are not actually American-made.

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. The company’s products are listed on the GSA Advantage website with the label “Made in: United States of America.” 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.

I urge you to examine the flatware that is listed as “Made in America” on the GSA Advantage website, and remove the products that do not belong on that list. 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, like Liberty Tabletop. 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. A thorough review of the list, and removal of the flatware products that are not actually American-made, would promote the companies, like Liberty, that actually manufacture their products in America, and ensure that consumers shopping for American-made products are not misinformed.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

 

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