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Labor Day Weekend with Uncle Jumbo

by Ted Johnson

This is Labor Day weekend here in the USA. Much of the rest of the world celebrates International Workers Day in May, but that was a little too commie for President Grover Cleveland. Besides, it conflicts with Bike Month, and everybody knows that Grover Cleveland was huge into Bike Month.

Grover ClevelandActually, he was just huge. This gout-afflicted president was nicknamed “Big Steve,” and some of his nieces and nephews called him “Uncle Jumbo.”

I’m pretty sure–let’s say I’m positive–that he didn’t bike commute. I’m not even going to Google it. But it was he who signed into law the legislation making Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.

So if you’re enjoying the three-day-weekend with a few nice bike rides, thank Uncle Jumbo. Oh, and also thank the labor movement.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

About 1.1 million American workers are involved directly or indirectly in the cycling industry. And what is their economic achievement? They generate $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. (Those are 2010 figures.)

And this was a surprise to me: Contributing to those 1.1 million jobs are more than 80 American companies involved in selling and/or manufacturing bicycles.

And 1.1 million jobs is almost as many jobs as are at risk if Congress doesn’t pass the Transportation Bill by the by the end of this month. These are jobs in all parts of the transportation sector, not just cycling.

Yet, the Transportation Bill languishes, and Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is still talking of eliminating all dedicated funding for bicycling and walking – programs such as transportation enhancements, recreational trails and safe routes to schools.

Before you get back to your holiday weekend, you can pay tribute to the American worker and to cycling at the same time. Take a couple minutes to contact your Representative and Senators, and let them know that cyclists matter. Seriously: two minutes. Do it for Uncle Jumbo.

Use this Link to League of American Bicyclist Action Center

American Employers Involved in Bike Manufacturing

The list below was raided from the Wikipedia page “List of bicycle brands and manufacturing companies.” I’m sure it’s not comprehensive. I’m also sure that some of these companies, though based in the US, employ more workers overseas than they do domestically. It doesn’t include domestic bike shops, nor does it include all of the US employers making and selling cycling accessories, such as Bike Shop Hub. (Hi, Boss!) Nonetheless, it’s an impressive list.

If you want to meet some of the people making bikes in the US, check out our videos from the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

 
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10 Responses to “Labor Day Weekend with Uncle Jumbo”

  1. BluesCat says:

    I’ll tell you what really frustrates me, Ted. Back in July, our “illustrious” Arizona Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Flake (R-AZ)joined with Senator Coburn (R-OK) — and a bunch of other Republican U.S. Senate Cager Cronies — to introduce S.1446, the State Transportation Flexibility Act.

    Basically, S.1446 would allow states to “opt out” of the Federal-Aid Highway and Mass Transit programs. “States would be able to manage and spend the gas tax revenue collected within their state on transportation projects without federal mandates or restrictions.”

    See, Coburn and McCain are the authors of the “Out of Gas” manifesto. A piece of anti-bike, anti-pedestrian crapola which states, simply, that anything which benefits bicyclists and pedestrians is wasted money, and federal dollars shouldn’t be “wasted” in this manner.

    I would send a message to them about how research shows that every $1 spent on bike infrastructure returns $2 in benefits, but we all know that fact is wasted on all of these guys as they kick back in their limos on the way to Capitol Hill.

  2. Gene @ BU says:

    The central issue appears to be that the federal gas tax is a political football and doesn’t raise enough in taxes to sustain the Highway Trust Fund.

    The federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 and generates about $32 billion a year that is then mostly passed out to states for road construction and repair. About 15 percent goes to subsidizing public transportation or other efforts to discourage driving. The average American motorist pays about $100 a year in the federal tax.

    The estimated highway maintenance budget is $68 to $96 billion. Rep. John Mica closed the gap by eliminating everything but basic highway infrastructure projects. He was told by the GOP raising taxes was a non-starter.

    The battle ground now is conservatives in Congress want to cut out the federal middleman and allow states to raise and spend their own road money. Not only would letting states collect the taxes directly reduce the money spent on federal behavioral engineering efforts (bike paths etc.), but would also allow states to avoid federal laws that require union workers be used on highway projects.

    For the GOP this is smaller government and not raising taxes platform in action.

    Thankfully in New York we just passed Complete Streets which requires state highway planners to consider people in road projects. This was backed by the AARP (old people with a strong voice in NY). The League of American Bicyclist was no place to be found in Complete Streets lobbying efforts.

  3. Chrehn says:

    Bravo for American Workers. J.O.Y.B.A.G.

  4. Ted Johnson says:

    Neither Uncle Jumbo nor the Republican Congress with which he had to work were particularly pro labor, but they managed to pass Labor Day.

    You’d think it wouldn’t be beyond the current President and Congress to pass The Transportation Bill — with dedicated funding for bicycling and walking.

  5. BluesCat says:

    Ted: Oh Nooooo! Pass a Transportation Bill which includes BICYCLES in the financing?!?

    CAN’T do THAT! Don’t ya know all this bike sharing stuff — and this promoting of these third world vehicles as SERIOUS transportation — is a GENUINE COMMIE PLOT TO CONTROL MINDS OF AMERICANS!?!

    Lookie here:
    Communist Plot Uncovered in Denver.

    Thank GOODNESS we have knowledgeable people in the GOP like this to PROTECT us from all these RADICALS!

  6. Gene @ BU says:

    Who’s who in mass bike manufacturing – many roads lead back to Dorel, Specialized, Trek, and Giant Bicycles.

    Dorel Industries Inc. is a Canadian company, based in Montreal, Quebec. Their Recreational/Leisure Group products are marketed under the Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, Mongoose, IronHorse, SUGOI, Pacific, Dyno, RoadMaster, PowerLite and InSTEP brand names. In February 2008, Dorel purchased the Cannondale Bicycle Company, SUGOI Performance Apparel, and IronHorse to further its goal to become a preeminent global bicycle company.

    The Milwaukee Bicycle Co. family-owned bicycle shop in the Lincoln Village neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Bicycle Co. frames are manufactured by Waterford Precision Cycles, owned by Richard Schwinn (whose family founded the Schwinn Bicycle Company).

    In 1997, Brunswick purchased the Roadmaster bicycle division, one of the last U.S. manufacturers of low-cost, mass-market bicycles. However, it became apparent that continued U.S. manufacture of such products was not viable in the presence of surging low-priced imports from overseas producers, primarily China. In 1999, Brunswick sold its Roadmaster bicycle division and brand to Pacific Cycle, who went on to acquire several U.S. bicycle brands for use on bicycles imported from China. See Dorel above who purchased Pacific.

    Cycle Force Group, also known as Cycle Force, is an American bicycle and bicycle Accessories importer. Cycle Source Group was established in 1998 by Nyle Nims as a service center and agent office for a group of Asian component makers and bicycle manufacturers in Taiwan. Cycle Force licenses rights to many internationally known name brands for sale on bicycles and related products.

    GT Bicycles is a large American manufacturer of road, mountain, and bmx bicycles. The company was founded in 1979 by Gary Turner, a welding engineer and Richard Long, a bike shop owner. The company merged with Schwinn (Questor Partners) in 1998, but the conglomerate went bankrupt in 2001, and was acquired by Pacific Cycle. Dorel Industries acquired Pacific Cycle in 2004. GT itself acquired Auburn Racing and Dyno Products from Bob Morales plus Robinson Racing from the late Chuck Robinson in the late 1980s. GT is directly administered by Dorel although the Dyno label has been resurrected and is part of Pacific Cycle. See Dorel above who purchased Pacific.

    Huffy Bicycles had a manufacturing and assembly facility in Celina, Ohio, at one time Celina’s largest employer. In 1996, the bicycle division received a major blow when U.S. courts ruled that surging imports of low-cost, mass-market bicycles from China did not pose a ‘material threat’ to the last three major U.S. bicycle manufacturers – Murray Inc., Roadmaster, and Huffy. In 1999, after it became apparent that continued U.S. production of low-cost, mass-market bicycles was no longer viable, Huffy closed down all remaining U.S. bicycle manufacturing operations. Murray and Roadmaster soon followed suit. Crown Equipment Corporation now uses the former Huffy U.S. bicycle factory to produce forklifts.

    Murray was a American company whose assets are now owned by Briggs & Stratton and Dorel Industries. The corporate brand is a descendant of the Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company, which manufactured bicycles and lawn and garden equipment . See Dorel above who purchased Pacific.

    The name ROSS was purchased out of Bankruptcy Court by Rand Cycle, Farmingdale, NY. Sherwood B. Ross worked for Rand for 5 years as a consultant as part of the name deal. Rand never sunk enough money into marketing the ROSS name and although they still own it, they are not actively pursuing ROSS sales.

    By the end of 1996, Specialized had lost 30% of its bike shop sales and came within a few hundred dollars of declaring bankruptcy. In 2001, Merida Bikes of Taiwan bought 19 per cent of Specialized for a reported US$30 million. Mike Sinyard remained majority owner and CEO of the company. Specialized is now one of the largest bicycle brands alongside Trek Bicycle Corporation and Giant Bicycles

  7. clever-title says:

    In history class, I learned that Grover Cleveland cycled on two non-consecutive occasions.

  8. Gene @ BU says:

    Sorry. I used the links you provided at the end of the article.

    I looked this morning on the frame of my Trek and it reads; “Assembled in the U.S.A.” with a little American flag next to it. This is probably as close to buy American as I will get with my bikes (unless I hit the lottery).

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