ATMI RATE REDUCED, STAFF CUT
Byline: Joanna Ramey
WASHINGTON — The American Textile Manufacturers Institute is cutting its staff by almost a third in response to a narrowing of its mission, a downturn in the industry and a 10 percent reduction in its dues rate, the association revealed Thursday.
The ATMI will now focus on lobbying the federal government regarding regulations, legislation and policies affecting domestic mills, particularly on issues like international trade. As part of this strategy, more executives from mills will be deployed to testify on Capitol Hill and meet with administration officials.
The association also plans to beef up its political action committee that donates to lawmakers’ campaigns. The ATMI will also continue its work on trying to keep international textile standards from impeding trade, as a member of the International Standards Organization.
Among the ATMI offices being discontinued are those deemed by board members to be “nontextile,” including public relations, consumer affairs and human resources. As of March 30, the association will terminate nine workers to employ a leaner crew of 19.
Reflecting the textile sector’s downturn in revenues, the association is cutting its dues by 10 percent for its 90 members as of May 1, the start of ATMI’s fiscal year.
“Everyone knows the industry is going through a very difficult economic time and we felt [the dues cut] was an appropriate thing to do,” said Carlos Moore, ATMI executive vice president.
While Moore acknowledged ATMI’s total revenues over the last two years have fallen “in the single digits,” he contended that the staff cutbacks weren’t a result of that decline.
Rather, he said the cutbacks are the result of the ATMI’s expectations that its dues base will continue to decline. Since the organization’s dues are based on the profits of its members, he said, the malaise the textile industry has been feeling for the past several years is likely to continue to take its toll on ATMI’s coffers.
Ten years ago ATMI had more than 150 members, Moore said. He said the reduction in association membership was a combination of consolidation in the industry, company closings and vertically integrated manufacturers, such as Sara Lee and Fruit of the Loom, getting out of the textile business to focus on apparel.
One prominent company and large ATMI dues-paying member, Milliken & Co., last fall was kicked out of the association by the board after a long-simmering dispute about how ATMI staff carried out board policies.
ATMI officials consider the changes, ordered by its board last month, to hold the association in good stead. The changes come at a time when several trade initiatives are being considered that would affect domestic mills, like a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and a new round of tariff-reducing talks by the World Trade Organization.
“The industry has changed and the business environment is difficult, but we believe the process we’ve completed will help us achieve our lobbying objectives,” said ATMI president Roger Chastain, who is also head of Mount Vernon Mills Inc., Greenville, S.C. “These commitments will help make ATMI a more significant force in Washington.”