Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) today held a press conference to call on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Administration to require TSA uniforms be manufactured in the United States.   

Currently, the majority of TSA uniforms are being manufactured in Mexico.  The manufacturer, VF Imagewear Inc., secured its most recent contract for $98 million in February 2010.  The initial bid did not allow for manufacturing outside of the country; but due to a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it offered a second bid that outsourced the sewing to Mexico. This, without question, is costing the U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“I am here today to call on TSA and the Administration to require all TSA uniforms to be manufactured here in the United States,” Speier said. “This requirement would create hundreds of American jobs. More jobs mean more taxpayers. More taxpayers mean a more vibrant economy and a smaller deficit.”

While TSA is aware of the issue it says it cannot require that uniforms be made in America due to NAFTA.  Today, VF Imagewear sews the TSA uniforms in Mexico, representing roughly 40% of the total cost of producing the uniforms and 80% of the labor. Prohibiting outsourcing would bring business and jobs back to the United States.

“Make it in America is a common sense policy,” Speier said.  “When it comes to U.S. government contracts, we have a right to demand that taxpayer dollars are used to create American jobs, not foreign ones.”

There are also national security concerns. Uniforms have a greater potential of being stolen in Mexico where it is more difficult to provide oversight of factories and cargo.

“If TSA cannot act, the Obama Administration should use its authority to require that all uniforms be wholly manufactured in the United States,” Speier concluded. “The uniforms of those who protect our nation should proudly say ‘Made in America’.”