Proposed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would prohibit transit agencies from purchasing railcars or buses from BYD, a company that exceeds Buy America Act thresholds.
WASHINGTON & LANCASTER, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#1u–Letters from over 200 members of SMART who work on electric vehicle assembly lines in Lancaster, California were delivered to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) about the impact of the pending NDAA bill. The bill as written could destroy 1,000 family wage U.S. manufacturing jobs, a catastrophe for many families that rely on work at the BYD plant in Lancaster, CA.
“I have lived here for over 20 years and know how much of a positive effect it has on our small town and our economy… Please allow us to keep working and progressing in our lives. Let us live.”
– Letter from Christopher O’Parra, BYD worker in Lancaster
“BYD and SMART have impacted my life and my families’ lives tremendously… Because of the work and the classes that I am currently taking with SMART I am bettering my life along with my children’s lives. Without BYD and SMART I will not be able to achieve my goals or provide for my family.”
– Letter from Brandon Tallett, BYD worker in Lancaster
The plant is in Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) district. He attended the 2017 ribbon cutting at the BYD plant. Many plant workers live in the adjacent district of Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), who supports protecting good union jobs in the region. Workers from the plant recently met with Rep. Hill and shared their stories.
“We come from all different backgrounds… but [we have] one common goal: to build a quality product that we are proud of, here in our community, in the United States of America. We are solid union workers and depend on this company to provide for our families… Put politics aside and think of the real people your decisions affect!” – Letter from Jeff Waldock, BYD worker in Lancaster
The NDAA bill will favor competing firm New Flyer (NFI), a foreign-owned company with a track record of opposing transparency. NFI has gone to court to attempt to keep the number of U.S. jobs it created secreti and has previously opposed raising the Buy American Act threshold for U.S.-made content of public transit vehicles.ii
In contrast, BYD buses already exceed the Buy American Act threshold. Buses produced in Lancaster source GPS systems, surveillance cameras, Wi-Fi, and other sensors from U.S. manufacturers, per the specifications of their U.S. transit customers.iii If enacted, the NDAA as amended would prohibit transit agencies from purchasing rolling stock from companies related legally or financially to a corporation based in a country that is subject to monitoring by the Trade Representative under the Trade Act of 1974. Despite being backed by major U.S. shareholders such as Warren Buffet, BYD may be subject to the prohibition.
By supporting the current language in this bill, some members of Congress and the Trump administration are helping NFI do an end-run around its competition. This kind of interference in a competitive market is putting 1,000 family wage jobs at risk.
House Conferees for the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act: Adam Smith (D-WA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Jim Copper (D-TN), Joe Courtney (D-CT), John Garamendi (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Kendra Hom (D-OK), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Mike Turner (R-OH), Mike Rogers (R-AK), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Don Bacon (R-NE), Jim Banks (R-IN), Liz Cheney (R-WY).
SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, is one of North America’s most dynamic and diverse unions with 203,000 members. Our members ensure the quality of the air we breathe, promote energy efficiency, produce and provide the vital services that move products to market and passengers to their destinations. We are sheet metal workers, service technicians, bus operators, engineers, conductors, sign workers, welders, production employees and more.
i The Superior Court of the State of California ruled in 2017 that reports to the transit authority about NFI’s U.S. job creation were in fact subject to sunshine laws.
ii McKenna, Barry. “Manufacturers cry foul over Buy American bill.” Globe and Mail, June 27, 2014. Accessed here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/manufacturers-cry-foul-over-buy-american-bill/article19381399/
iii BYD letter to Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Lowey dated Dec. 14, 2018 states, “All of the components referenced are specified by our U.S. transit customers and sourced from the same U.S. vendors used by New Flyer.”
Steve Dodd at SMART