On Wednesday (April 1st aka April Fool’s Day) I set out bright and early to fly from NYC to DC to attend the Amend the CPSIA Rally which was sponsored by many different groups. A flight which should have taken a mere 40 minutes turned into an adventure…4 hours later I arrived at the US Capitol Building.
Although the cherry blossoms are beautiful in DC this time of year, the weather wasn’t great (cloudy skies and intermittent rain showers). As I approached the Capitol Building, thousands of people were being evacuated!
I spotted Rachel Dressler-Sweetser of Monkey Baby who had a CPSIA sticker on her jacket. I asked her what was going on. Apparently, security found a suspicious package. But she gave me her visitor’s pass and I snuck in the side door.
When I finally made it to the CPSIA Rally room, I could barely squeeze in. Standing room only!
I listened to lots of great speakers from different industries and some elected officials.
Here’s video from Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX):
and another from Governor Engler:
After the Rally, we divided into groups to attend meetings with different legislators and their aides. My group consisted of Scott A. Cohn of Arent Fox, Jason Oliver of Oompa Toys and a few other gentlemen.
We trekked around to visit a few senator’s aides. When we finished, my group spotted Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY and Vice Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee) and double-dog dared me to approach Schumer as he was getting on the elevator.
I figured since I was unsuccessful at getting an appointment with him or his aides, it was now or never. Thank goodness I’m a New Yorker and have chutzpah (even though I’m a nice Irish/English gal). I approached Senator Schumer and said, “Excuse me Senator. I’m a New York children’s clothing manufacturer and I need help with the CPSIA.” He told me to come with him and took me on a little elevator ride.
Senator Schumer was intrigued that my boys’ clothing line was manufacturer in New York City (my guess is most have their items manufactured abroad) and got a kick out of my boys’ jeans snap (which looks like a NYC manhole cover).
After discussing the issues surrounding the CPSIA and it’s effects on my business, Senator Schumer took out his cell phone and hooked me up with his Deputy Staff Director, Stacy Ettinger, telling her to meet with me now. The Senator assured me they were working behind the scenes on this issue. I told him we need Democrats to support this–plain and simple.
I immediately met up with Ms. Ettinger at his office–and what a breath of fresh air! She was extremely well-versed about the CPSIA and it’s implications on children’s businesses. She stated there had been a lot of support for the new CPSIA from consumer groups such as USPRIG and she needed to hear from others like me with real numbers (inventory loss, loss sales, business closings, etc.). I provided here with the financial losses I’ve incurred and projected 3rd party testing costs in order to be in compliance. I also supplied her with this blog post which lists the other companies that would be affected if I were to go out of business.
I must say I felt really good after meeting with Senator Schumer and Ms. Ettinger. I do believe they “get it.” I don’t think I was given the brush-off at all. I left feeling that I had been heard and they were genuinely concerned. However, I do believe that unless a Democrat introduces legislation to amend the CPSIA, the point is moot. Unfortunately, although this should be a bi-partisan issue, it’s not–how sad.
Then I went to meet with Kathryn DiBitetto, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Michael McMahon‘s (D-NY) office, who handles product safety issues. Unfortunately, Congressman McMahon was voting at the House of Representatives. I would have liked to see him as he was my personal injury lawyer years ago and is a fellow Staten Islander. Ironically, McMahon won me the money which was used to start my boys’ clothing line.
Ms. DiBitetto (another Staten Island native) told me the Congressman was aware of the problems being caused by the CPSIA for local businesses. She said he’s written the CPSC with concerns. I explained that the CPSC could do nothing to change the law, but instead legislators would have to fix it. I urged Ms. DiBitetto to ask Congressman McMahon to support any legislation to amend the CPSIA. P.S. – Ms. DiBitetto loved my Downtown Joey clothing line!
I almost canceled my trip, because I had no one to watch my two children. But then I thought about how hard my friends have fought the CPSIA and felt it was my responsibility to be there. Kathleen, Rick, Rob, Jennifer, Olivia, Wacky Hermit, Whimsical Walney, Tristan, Deputy Headmistress, Handcraftivist, Jill, Cecilia, Walter, and Marianne have all fought the good fight while I was taking my daughter through a kidney transplant. It’s was my turn to step up and be heard. I am glad I went to the CPSIA Rally in DC! It was a terrific experience. I’d like to thank all the folks who put together this rally in 2 short weeks. YOU ROCK!
Here’s lots of great CPSIA commentary from around the web:
I returned home from DC to read that High Lead Levels found in my own town’s shoreline. Lovely. Do I need to be concerned about lead in my kids’ clothing when I’m living in a lead-filled city?!
Not to mention, our local landfill makes the news once again.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with some CPSIA inspired photos. Feel free to use any of these around the web to help spread the word about the unintended consequences of the CPSIA: