CONGRESS | Rep. Pete Stark is leading a bipartisan call for the U.S. Olympic Committee to use American textile workers to manufacture the uniforms its 530 athletes will wear during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games on July 27.
In a letter to the USOC Tuesday, Stark and 58 other members of Congress urged the governing body to urge the makers of the uniforms, The Ralph Lauren Corporation, to use American worker to construct the blue blazer and white pant ensemble. News reports last week revealed the outfits were made in China.
"At a time when so many Americans are still searching for work, it is offensive that the USOC would not support our workers and their families by manufacturing the uniforms here," said the letter sent to the CEO of the USOC Scott Blackmun. "These American companies are capable of making these uniforms at competitive prices," the letter went on to say. "Hard working Americans should have the privilege of manufacturing uniforms for Team USA."
Stark, who is running for re-election in the contested 15th Congressional District said, "We don't outsource the athletes who represent the United States in the Olympics and we shouldn't outsource the manufacturing of Team USA's uniforms. The fact that our American uniforms were made in China is a glaring reminder that we've gotten away from a core value: our country's success is built on the innovation and industriousness of the American worker. When we deviate from that, we fail. That is why we're calling on the U.S. Olympic Committee to reflect these values and ensure that Team USA's uniforms are made in America."
The USOC's decision to dress its athletes in uniforms made in China has raised cackles throughout the country and the halls of Congress. Last weekend, Ralph Lauren said it had heard the criticism over the uniforms, but will not begin using U.S. textile companies until the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.