A petition signed by over 450 workers at the Build Your Dreams (BYD) 550,000-square-foot bus manufacturing facility in Lancaster, California was delivered to Rep. McCarthy on Thursday. The petition included a cover letter from Luis A. Morales, a combat veteran with two honorable discharges and 12 years of service:
BYD has been the first stable job I have had since I left the military. A disabled veteran with PTSD, I have made my home at BYD. I hope to make it my career. With this I make my living for my spouse and children. BYD pays my bills, house payments, car payment. It puts food and clothes on my children. It provides me with the American dream. Something I swore to protect and fought for.
The petition reads:
We are the proud American workers at the BYD bus manufacturing plant in Lancaster, CA. We are highly skilled, well trained and we put out a quality product to the public. The buses we make carry our friends and our families to and from work and school, so the quality and safety of these buses is our number one concern. This career puts a roof over our families heads and food on our tables. We are not asking for a handout. We are asking for a chance to work and prove that our work is just as good if not better than the competition. Support us by ensuring we have a chance to work.
Many additional SMART members who work for local transit agencies drive the buses built at the BYD plant. If enacted, the NDAA as amended would prohibit transit agencies from purchasing buses 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. BYD is a publicly traded company and the majority of shareholders are U.S. investors. Warren Buffetts Berkshire Hathaway is the largest single shareholder. Despite this, BYD may be subject to the prohibition, and the federal government could force changes be made to existing contracts between local transit agencies and their suppliers.
Foreign-owned ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT), which has major operations in the Chinese automotive industry, has a member on the board of the manufacturing lobbying group leading the charge on killing these U.S. jobs. While its lobbyists on the hill cry foul about Chinese companies, ArcelorMittal took in over $1.4 billion in revenues since 2016 from its 50 percent joint venture with a state-owned Chinese supplier to tier 1 global automotive companies developing electric vehicle technology. Meanwhile their tactics could cost hundreds of U.S. workers their jobs.
BYD buses made in Lancaster 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.
SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, is one of North Americas most dynamic and diverse unions with over 200,000 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.
Steve Dodd at SMART