Don’t Let China’s State-Owned CRRC Build NYC’s Subway, State Lawmakers Say

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

As Congress continues to work on legislation to ban China’s government-owned, controlled or subsidized companies from receiving U.S. tax money to build rail cars and buses, local lawmakers are taking on the issue in their own states.

The latest instance is in New York, where state Assemblymember Michael Cusick (D) is teaming up with state Sen. Diane Savino (D) on a bill to prevent foreign state-owned enterprises, including the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), from using New York tax money on mass transportation projects.

Like federal lawmakers who have championed this issue, Cusick and Savino say they are worried about the security threats posed by allowing a firm with direct ties to the Chinese state apparatus to build critical infrastructure systems.

They point to recent testimony from former Department of Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who all specifically mentioned critical infrastructure when discussing cyber security threats at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee field hearing in New York.

“There is wide consensus that allowing CRRC and other state-owned enterprises to have open access to our critical rail infrastructure and mass transportation systems is ill-advised,” Cusick said in a statement. “These contracts create major cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the U.S. The goal should be risk avoidance, not mitigation.”

There’s little doubt about China’s intentions with CRRC.

New research from Radarlock examined the company’s deep ties to China’s government, communist party and military, concluding that CRRC is a key part of China’s plan to dominate global industry. But it’s more than that – CRRC also obtains technology for potentially nefarious purposes, handing everything it gathers from its work abroad to the Chinese state and military.

Cusick and Savino say they are also worried about CRRC’s economic impact, noting that CRRC has nabbed contracts in major cities like Chicago and Los Angeles by “drastically underbidding other railcar manufacturers and using non-market tactics.”

The issue is of critical importance in the Empire State because New York City is looking to upgrade its iconic subway system. CRRC won a 2018 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) contest to design new subway cars – a development that quickly drew the ire of Democratic Senate Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, who hails from New York.

In a letter to Cusick, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye wrote that the agency supports “the need to ensure that foreign state-owned enterprises do not constitute a cybersecurity threat.”

It's not just about cybersecurity; the state's economic security also is at risk, as CRRC threatens the livelihoods of about 6,000 New Yorkers who are directly employed in the railway supply industry and another 8,000 people whose jobs are supported by it. That’s because while other foreign railcar manufacturers buy U.S. steel and components, CRRC makes its railcars in China and fulfills “low-value assembly in the U.S,” Cusick and Savino argue.

Reasearch backs them up on this: A recent study from Oxford Economics found that every $1 billion given to Chinese state-owned enterprises like CRRC for U.S. municipal railcar projects costs 5,100 American jobs

Cusick and Savino’s effort has the backing of Schumer and Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism. “We need to be protecting our critical infrastructure from intrusion by foreign adversaries, not swinging our doors wide open,” Rose said.

Added Schumer: “Given what we know about how cyberwarfare works, and recent attacks that have hit transportation and infrastructure hubs across the country, we must do everything in our power to protect our subway and commuter railroads.”

While Cusick and Savino look to move their bill in New York, down in Washington, D.C., lawmakers continue to work on federal legislation to ban Chinese companies like CRRC from receiving taxpayer money to build rail cars and buses.

The language is included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which has passed both the Senate and House but is currently held up in conference, where lawmakers from both chambers are trying to work out key differences, including over President Trump’s border wall.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Friday that “enormous progress” has been made, so a resolution could come soon.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work