Galax firms sign trade petition

GALAX, Va. – Employees of three furniture companies in Galax, Va., signed petitions on Tuesday in support of levying duties, or an import fee, on furniture imports from China.

“It went extremely well,” Wyatt Bassett, of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture in Galax, said about the petitions. “Ninety-eight percent of the workers at our companies supported the petition.”

A group of furniture manufacturers joined together recently and announced that they were going to file a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that could levy duties or an import fee on furniture imports from China.

Local factories in Caldwell County can join the petition if 51 percent of the workers at a factory sign in support of the duties, even if management decides not to join the effort.

“No one can stop anyone from doing this. It’s the law,” Bassett said. “But the employees of furniture companies have a say in this.”

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, Webb Furniture Enterprises and Vaughan Furniture were the three companies that held the petitions. Approximately 3,229 of the 3,305 workers at the companies signed the petition, according to Bassett.

A group of 15 companies announced that they plan to file a petition this fall and since the announcement, seven more companies have joined the petition. Both Bernhardt and Broyhill haven’t joined, but individual Bernhardt and Broyhill factories can join through a petition.

The actual petition is an antidumping petition that will target imports from China of wood bedroom furniture. If the petition is successful, bedroom furniture imported from China would become subject to antidumping duties.

“When a plant closes, the employees don’t have a say in it,” Basset said. “But they have a say in this.”

Once a petition has been filed, the ITC will immediately commence a preliminary investigation to determine whether “there is a reasonable indication that the domestic industry is materially injured, or threatened with material injury, by reason to dumped imports from China,” according to the committee’s legal counsel Joe Dorn. The ITC is required to make a preliminary determination within 45 days.

If the ITC’s preliminary determination is affirmative, the Department of Commerce will proceed to determine the margins of dumping and the corresponding level of duties that would be applied to U.S. imports of bed furniture from China. Antidumping duties, if imposed, would be paid by the U.S. importers of record. The duties would be set at the amount required to offset the margin of dumping and to restore fair competition to the market, according to Dorn.

Currently there are 25 furniture companies that are in support of the petition. The 25 companies are: Bassett Furniture Industries of Bassett, Va.; Carolina Furniture Works, Inc., of Sumter, S.C.; Century Furniture Industries of Hickory; Copeland Furniture Company of Bradford, Vt.; Crawford Furniture Manufacturing Company of Jamestown, N.Y.; Cresent Manufacturing Company of Gallatin, Tenn.; Durham Furniture Inc. of Canfield, Ohio; Good Companies of Carson, Calif.; Hart Furniture, Inc. of Collierville, Tenn.; Higdon Furniture Company of Quincy, Fla.; Hooker Furniture Corporation of Martinsville, Va.; Johnston/TomBigbee Furniture Manufacturing of Columbus, Miss.; Keller Manufacturing of Corydon, Ind.; Michels-Pilliod Company of Linwood, Calif.; Mobel Furniture Company of Ferdinand, Ind.; Moosehead Furniture of Monson, Maine; Palliser Furniture Limited of Manitoba, Canada; Sandberg Furniture of Los Angeles, Calif.; Shermag, Inc. of Sherbrooke, Canada; Stanley Furniture Company of Stanleytown, Va.; Stickley, Inc., of Manlius, N.Y.; Vaughan Furniture Company of Galax, Va.; Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company of Galax, Va.; Vermont Tubbs, Inc., of Brandon, Vt.; and Webb Furniture Enterprises of Galax, Va.

For more information about the petition, contact the Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co.

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