The American Mattress Alliance estimates that a minimum of 12,000 U.S. jobs would be lost if new antidumping cases against Vietnam and six other countries are decided in favor of the petitioners.
“There is an incorrect assumption out there that this petition is only targeting foreign factories and foreign jobs,” said Brandon Sparks, president of BedTech, a mattress importer and an AMA member. “This case will likely eliminate a combined total of 12,000 American jobs between mattress importers, small family-owned operations and the U.S. supply chain with freight carriers, warehouse facilities, port workers and more.”
The initial International Trade Commission hearing is scheduled for April 21 in Washington.
With worldwide lockdowns, many of the facilities in the seven countries cannot submit their necessary information within the two-week timeline. And due to social distancing guidelines, the defendants are not permitted to attend the hearing to plead their case. All arguments are limited to written submissions, the AMA said in a statement.
“It strikes me as incredibly opportunistic and fundamentally unfair for the petitioners to push court proceedings during a global pandemic when both parties cannot attend in person,” said Charlie Freedman, general counsel and co-founder of furniture and mattress retailer Downeast, an AMA member. “Additionally, the critical circumstances timeline could force importers to backpay tariffs up to 1,008% starting June 13. The risk is too great for companies to continue manufacturing, before they even have their day in court.”
The antidumping petitioners claim that 1,300 jobs were lost between 2017 and 2019 due to unfairly priced mattress imports, AMA said. Its members challenge that claim and point to the petitioners’ “mergers and acquisitions, lack of innovation and failure to adapt to a changing marketplace” as the true reasons for alleged job losses.
Since the mattress-in-a-box revolution, most large retailers rely on suppliers that have large-volume ready-to-ship inventory that delivers to end consumers within two days. AMA members invested in that model while many petitioners dismissed that consumer preference, the group said.
“Our business model allows us to have a large inventory of mattresses and adjustable bed bases ready at a moment’s notice for a wide range of industries and end consumers,” said Scott Burger, CEO of Classic Brands. “As a major supplier of online networks like Amazon, Wayfair, Walmart and Overstock, we’ve innovated and disrupted old processes to align with the fast-paced demands of online shoppers.”
That investment is helping AMA members get tens of thousands of beds out to hospitals and emergency centers immediately, with thousands more already in crisis centers, the group said.
Alliance members include Ashley Furniture, American Furniture Warehouse, Malouf, Classic Brands, BedTech, Zinus USA, Americanstar, Maven, MLily USA and others.