TSG Finishing President Michael Goldman (R) discusses issues with U.S. House Rep. Patrick McHenry at the company's Synthetics Plant. Photo courtesy Hickory Daily Record

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TSG Finishing President Michael Goldman (L) gives U.S. House Rep. Patrick McHenry at tour of the company's Synthetics Plant. Photo courtesy Hickory Daily Record

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TSG Finishing President Michael Goldman (R) discusses issues with U.S. House Rep. Patrick McHenry at the company's Synthetics Plant. Photo courtesy Hickory Daily Record

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Rep. McHenry meets with TSG Finishing leader to discuss labor, PFAS issue, more

Posted July 15, 2021


By Devin Steele


U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) met with TSG Finishing LLC President Michael Goldman on July 8 at the company’s Synthetics Plant in Hickory, N.C., to discuss the lingering labor shortage challenge and other areas of concern.


While having the ear of the congressman to address one of the company’s biggest issues – employee recruiting and retention – Goldman also brought up other legislative matters that would affect the U.S. and N.C. textile industry. Specifically, he provided an awareness overview of proposed chemical legislation in the U.S. House and a proposed energy bill in the N.C. Legislature.


And having Rep. McHenry’s undivided attention for an hour could have a meaningful impact going forward, Goldman said.


“One of the most important takeaways from the meeting is that we now have a personal connection with both the congressman and his regional director, Roger Kumpf,” Goldman told eTC. “So now as issues come up that are of importance to us, we have a good avenue to get that information into the congressman's hands, and at least have an ally in Congress and someone to help work on it. That's important for us and for the textile industry in general.”


The fact that McHenry’s office contacted TSG Finishing to arrange the meeting also speaks volumes about the lawmaker’s concern for manufacturing and business in his district, Goldman added. The congressman was unable to attend a May 7 meeting of state and federal elected officials at the facility to discuss the labor crisis, but Kumpf was on hand and heard the plea for help from TSG and other local manufacturing officials.


“The fact that he reached out is very important,” Goldman said. “It shows he's listening to us, and he obviously cares about the people and the companies that are his constituents.”


“It was a good meeting,” added Goldman, who along with his cousin, company CEO Brian Rosenstein, are fifth-generation owners to run the 120-year-old company. “We talked about the short-term difficulties in the labor market, and things have become a bit clearer since the May meeting now that we know what North Carolina is going to do around federal unemployment benefits.”


On June 23, the N.C. General Assembly approved a bill compromise that requires the state to withdraw early from the pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC) program and the pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA). And the two federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs expire Sept. 6 unless extended by Congress. The compromise also makes permanent changes to work-search requirements that significantly strengthen eligibility criteria, such as a claimant must respond within 48 hours of an employer’s interview request.


Enhanced UI benefits have exacerbated the labor shortage in recent months of the pandemic and have disincentivized, many business groups have said.


“I requested to Rep. McHenry that any future stimulus packages that are taken up by the federal government really should be employer-based,” Goldman said.


They also discussed longer-term labor problems that are driven my demographic issues such as diminishing population growth, the mass exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce and the low labor force participation rate of working age people, he added. Catawba County, in particular, has added more than 1,000 jobs since January 2020, but the size of the workforce in the county has been in steady decline since 2000, he pointed out.


“I would love to make Western Carolina and our county a leader in bringing in immigrant and refugee populations in order to broaden the employee base and the labor market,” Goldman said. “And I don't think he disagrees with that, but of course it’s a partisan issue right now. And I told him that whatever the issues, employers in this area are dying on the vine because we don't have access to people who want to come to this country and work. I indicated that whatever the partisan divide is, you guys need to find a way to compromise and get some forward movement because we just need more people. With the county’s population dwindling and aging out, the problems are only going to get worse.”


Goldman also broached the PFAS Action Act (H.R. 2467), introduced April 13 by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that directs the Environmental Protection Agency to enact multiple significant regulations related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). He shared with the congressman the industry’s concern about provisions in the measure and left him fact sheets put together by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) regarding the matter.


NCTO “agrees with provisions in the legislation that apply strong regulatory actions to specific PFAS chemicals that have been definitively tied to environmental hazards, such as PFOA/PFOS,” according to their informational packet. “However, the council strongly urges that the bill be revised to delete provisions that are intended to regulate PFAS as an entire class. Taking an individual chemical, science-based approach targets precise substances that pose an environmental risk. We believe that an entire family regulatory approach would needlessly disadvantage U.S. manufacturers while having no meaningful impact on the environment.”


“I wanted to make sure this issue was on his radar because it’s very important to the industry,” Goldman said. “He was appreciative of that, and I hope it helps him better understand the issue.”


He added that TSG Finishing is not anti-regulation “by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, we do a lot of business and earn a lot of customers because we can work within existing regulations instead of fighting them. We accept rules changes and we find alternatives as we need to – and people appreciate that. So when we talk about PFAS and things like that, all we're looking for is reasonable, science-based regulation.”


TSG Finishing’s Rosenstein will take part in a panel discussion on recruiting and retaining talent at next week’s Furniture Manufacturing Expo in Hickory, N.C. Click here for more information.

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