WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Tuesday urged Adidas to keep production of NBA and WNBA uniforms and apparel in the U.S. after the activewear firm’s contract manufacturer in upstate New York said production was moving to Thailand.

This story first appeared in the November 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Adidas has an exclusive contract with the NBA to supply the league’s teams with their official uniforms.

“It’s flat wrong for Adidas to move the production of jerseys worn by NBA players outside the United States when there are U.S. companies that have done this work so well and for so long,” Schumer said. “And to do it in this economic climate adds insult to injury.”

He called on the company to reverse its decision and continue producing jerseys in the U.S.

Adidas said it was moving production “to facilities located closer to the source of uniform materials.”

Adidas signed a six-year exclusive manufacturing contract, with a five-year extension, with American Classic Outfitters in January 2008 to produce NBA and WNBA jerseys and all jerseys worn by players in the NBA’s development league, said Rob Knoll, senior vice president of American Classic, based in Perry, N.Y.

It was the company’s first such contract with Adidas and the activewear giant was its only client. American Classic Outfitters employed more than 100 workers in its plant in Perry until Adidas terminated its contract six to eight weeks ago, telling the contractor it was moving its production to Thailand, Knoll said.

American Classic was recently bought by R.J. Liebe Athletic Mfg. Co., a St. Louis-based company hoping to expand its professional sports lettering business and become more vertical.

“We’re not going to let this business fail,” said Knoll, adding that the company has furloughed about 10 employees as a result of losing its contract with Adidas. “We would rather focus on finding new business and not spend years in court fighting a battle over something that may not happen.”

Knoll said he supports Schumer’s efforts to persuade Adidas to “change its mind and bring production back into the facility” but he is not holding out a lot of hope. He said the company can “keep its workers going past the first of the year” while the salesmen “beat the bushes” to drum up new business.”

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