U.S. manufacturers now have two Save American Manufacturing groups working to build grass-roots awareness about the loss of U.S. jobs to China.
The competing organizations point to a falling-out between leaders of the formerly united effort. Both said they do not want to sound like there is a big rift between groups, even though they are not talking.
The new group, SAMNOW, was the Wisconsin chapter of Save American Manufacturing, which is based in the Chicago area. SAMNOW is attempting to win over SAM members. While the Wisconsin group is small, it has annoyed leaders of SAM, a toolmaker-led organization trying to preserve U.S. work.
``It's a thinly veiled attempt to unseat us and it's counterproductive,'' said SAM spokeswoman Cynthia Petrucci of Progressive Components Inc. in Wauconda, Ill. ``They can go forward on the same level if they want, but they should call it something else. We don't want them ruining this for everyone trying to make something happen to save manufacturing.''
The leaders of SAMNOW counter that the original SAM group, launched in the fall, is focused on mold making and should be more involved with all industries. They also say that SAM's close ties with the Roselle-based American Mold Builders Association restrict the group.
``At one time, we were totally connected with Chicago and working with them hand in hand,'' said Jerry Skoff, president of tool-surface-treatment company Badger Metal Tech Inc. of Menomonee Falls, Wis., and SAMNOW vice president.
``Then we found out about them being tied in with AMBA. We decided to make this an independent group that works for everybody.''
Skoff said he would like to enlist professionals in other industries, including dentists and lawyers, in the cause. Meanwhile, Petrucci said SAM's purpose always has been to reach out to all manufacturing sectors.
One of the differences might come down to the design of a Web site. SAM had hired Skoff to design its first site. But the Chicago group found the Web site cluttered and attempted to change it, an idea Skoff rejected, according to Petrucci.
That led to SAM designing its new site, www.sam-usa.org, which according to SAM is cleaner and easier to navigate. SAMNOW kept Skoff's original site, with an Uncle Sam logo and called www.samnow.org, and went its separate way.
The Chicago group said the Wisconsin chapter no longer is an official part of SAM, and SAMNOW's vision and goals differ beyond any cooperative resolution. SAMNOW argues that the Chicago group's ties to AMBA and the cost of setting up booths at mold trade shows make it impossible for SAM to reach a national audience.
SAM still has 14 chapters outside of Wisconsin and is preparing to create a chapter in Southern California, Petrucci said. The group launched a national letter-writing campaign to legislators earlier this year asking that they look at trade imbalances between the United States and China.
The situation is urgent and is especially pronounced for toolmakers vulnerable to unfair trade, Petrucci said. ``There's not really a lot of time because such a dangerous dent has already been made in the industry,'' she said.
The breakaway group is an unwelcome distraction for a cause that needs cohesion, she said. But SAM did not trademark its name or copyright its Web content, which allowed the Wisconsin group to sublet those features as its own, Petrucci said. Both Web sites include links to the same Commerce Commission reports, for example, and both sites list the same contact names.
While that is a bit confusing, it does not necessarily matter for the end goals of the groups, said Mike Vaughn, president of mold maker Michiana Plastics Inc. of Mishawaka, Ind. Vaughn's name is listed as a contact both for SAM and SAMNOW.
``I haven't talked to anybody about that,'' Vaughn said. ``But it doesn't matter who leads this. The bottom line is that we have to trudge through the effort of getting the message out there. We can't make it as lucrative for companies to take work overseas.''