Path? - NEW BALANCE
- New Balance continues to make some (but
not many) of its shoes in five U.S.
factories; New Balance has 1600 U.S.
Most shoes are made in
New Balance struggles as last major athletic shoe brand still manufacturing in U.S.
See entire Times Articles (click here).
NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — At the factory here owned by New Balance, the last major athletic shoe brand to manufacture footwear in the United States, even workers on the shop floor recognize that in purely economic terms, the operation doesn’t make sense.
The company could make far more money if, like Nike and Adidas, it shifted virtually all of these jobs to low-wage countries.
- Feb 2 2006 New Balance goes to China. See this NICNET report on labor conditions http://www.nlcnet.org/news/china/pdfs/Li_Kai_Report_Web.pdf New Balance claims "Made in the US" label, but this is a deal struck with a state legislature; actually most of New Balance production is outsourced. If you contrast what New Balance claims as its ethical code, with the stage-managed cheers, the ways they union-bust, hire underaged women workers, etc., with this report you will see the difference bewteen IMAGE STORY CONTROL and the COUNTERSTORY resistance of the workers.
- The Federal Trade Commission has attempted
to determine what it means to say a
product is "made in" the United
States... shoes produced in New Balance
U.S. factories are made by U.S. workers
using both U.S. and imported
- New Balance defines "Made in
US" U.S. as at least 70% of
labor and materials (5).
- New Balance - "1994 we have increased
our manufacturing jobs by 23%." (4).
- Pou Chen Corp. plant in Dongguan,
China. The factory makes Nike, Adidas, New
Balance, Asics and other brands of shoes (Jeff
Manning, Oregonian 1998).
shoemaker New Balance keeps some production at
-- U.S. employees get constant training, master a
variety of skills, and work in small teams
-- Managers are creative in adapting new
technologies to shoemaking
-- The productivity gains allow U.S. workers to
produce a pair of shoes in 24 minutes, vs. 3 hours
in China. That whittles the cost per pair of shoes
to $4 in the U.S., vs. $1.30 in China.
Number 3721; Pg. 92
LOW-SKILLED JOBS: DO THEY HAVE TO MOVE?
By Aaron Bernstein; Bernstein writes about
labor markets and social issues from
Washington. BUSINESS WEEK.
through New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc.'s
factory in Norridgewock, Me., and you will see
workers using high-tech skills to make a
low-tech product. Well-trained, $ 14-an-hour
employees work in small teams, perform a
half-dozen jobs, and switch tasks every few
minutes. Some operate computerized equipment
with up to 20 sewing-machine heads running at
once. Others control an automated stitcher
guided by cameras, which allows one operator
to do the work of six using ordinary sewing
visit a Chinese subcontractor's factory that
makes the same shoe for New Balance. You might
think you had traveled back in time 100 years.
In the factories that manufacture shoes for
New Balance, Nike, Reebok International, and
other U.S.-based athletic-footwear companies,
hundreds of women hunch over sewing
much like ones used in their grandmothers'
time. The story is the same across China and
in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Young women in their teens or early 20s, with
little education and few skills, put in long
hours six days a week, usually performing the
same task in mind-numbing repetition for 20
cents to 40 cents an hour...
nothing else, New Balance's efforts show
that it's possible to improve jobs instead
of move them...
combination of teams and technology
has slashed the cost disadvantage of
producing in the U.S...
IS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY?