NYT: David Perdue “Was An Outsourcing Expert” While “Dealing Extensively” With Chinese Government

January 1, 2021

“Perdue…shifted [American] manufacturing and jobs overseas” which “eliminated thousands of jobs, including 230…in Cartersville, GA”

While Perdue has made fearmongering about China central to his campaign, experts said Perdue likely dealt “extensively with the government or the Communist Party”

ATLANTA — Today, The New York Times exposed “expert in outsourcing” Senator David Perdue for his ties to China and long record of working to shift American jobs and manufacturing overseas. Although Perdue has made fearmongering about China central to his flailing re-election campaign, he has downplayed and even tried to erase from a campaign video his own extensive ties to China.

As Perdue “became wealthy” leading outsourcing efforts at multiple companies, his record of thousands of lost American jobs included the jobs of 230 employees at Sara Lee’s Cartersville plant that closed when the “ripple effects” of Perdue’s work “reached home.” At Sara Lee, Perdue built up the company’s Asian operations, including in mainland China, and industry experts noted that “no American firm could have established such an operation in China at that time without dealing extensively with the government or the Communist Party.” And when Perdue’s campaign was asked if he had any other business involving the Chinese government, they “declined to answer.”

Days ago, the Washington Post released a brutal report detailing Perdue’s extensive “work with the Chinese government.” According to the report, Perdue was “a very key figure in terms of establishing relationships with the Chinese government.”

Perdue was previously scrutinized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and others who have put Perdue “under the microscope for his own connections to China” for leading Dollar General’s “aggressive expansion into China.”

“Perdue got rich sending Georgia jobs overseas, using his extensive ties to China’s government to prioritize his corporate bottom line and put American workers last,” said Braxton Brewington, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “From the corporate boardroom to the U.S. Senate, Perdue has spent his career looking out for himself and his wealth while leaving hardworking Georgians behind. His decades of self-serving corruption at Georgians’ expense will end on Tuesday when voters send David Perdue packing.”

New York Times: Before Embracing America-First Agenda, David Perdue Was An Outsourcing Expert

  • “The man who has lately voiced support for some of President Trump’s signature tariffs built his career as an unapologetic, free-trading practitioner of the outsourcing arts. As a top executive at companies including Reebok, Sara Lee and Dollar General, he was often deeply involved in the shift of manufacturing, and jobs, to low-wage factories in China and other Asian countries.”
  • “…But there were also disappointments, like the failed trucking business he ran with Sonny Perdue and his fruitless effort to rescue a company called Pillowtex that brought heartbreak to a North Carolina mill town. And while the senator often speaks of having led “the Reebok turnaround” as president of the company’s flagship brand in the early 2000s, he moved on from the company after a rival, who today questions Mr. Perdue’s contribution to the turnaround, was installed above him.”
  • “The man who spent much of his life broadening his horizons took to the stage at a Trump rally in Macon before Election Day and mocked Senator Kamala Harris’s first name, mispronouncing it with an exaggerated stumble that to critics amounted to crude racism. His campaign has called it an innocent mispronunciation.”
  • “The man who dons a faded denim jacket to reinforce his connection to everyday Georgians has a record of aloofness, with an aversion to holding town hall meetings and a thin skin for tough questions. Now he has chosen a further withdrawal, declining to participate in additional debates after one in which his Democratic opponent, Jon Ossoff, called him a “crook” for his prolific stock-trading while in the Senate. Mr. Perdue did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this article.”
  • “Increasingly and inexorably, the region’s apparel and textile industry was turning to foreign contractors to manufacture its products. The disruption, which meant thousands of layoffs for low-skilled workers in Southern mill towns, was Mr. Perdue’s ticket to the world. He became an expert in outsourcing.”
  • ““I spent most of my career doing that,” he would later say in a deposition.”
  • “Mr. Perdue left in 1984 and worked at a few other places before ending up at Sara Lee, which was best known for its baked goods but was also an apparel manufacturer. He was hired in 1992 to open a headquarters in Hong Kong, where he lived for two years, establishing operations throughout Asia “from the ground up,” he would later say.”
  • “The ripple effects reached home. In 1994, the company eliminated thousands of jobs, including 230 at its Spring City Knitting plant in Cartersville, Ga. Most of the workers were women who earned $4.25 an hour sewing garments.”
  • “By that time, Mr. Perdue was globe-trotting with yet another company, Haggar Clothing, which had chosen him to lead its international operation with one aim — increasing foreign sourcing. Within three years, he had done just that, boosting international production from 60 percent to 75 percent. As company plants were closed in the United States, workers in Mexico performed the job for $1.50 an hour.”
  • “By 1998, Mr. Perdue was headed to Reebok, which ultimately promoted him to lead its main division as it forged licensing deals with the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Major league teams, with their star power and marquee players, burnished Reebok’s cachet, leading to its acquisition by Adidas in 2005. The manufacturing of most of the company’s products was outsourced, primarily to China and elsewhere in Asia.”
  • “The 2014 video produced by Mr. Perdue’s Senate campaign — in which he discusses licensing agreements — portrays him as the architect of Reebok’s turnaround. Even in the wake of improvements in the company’s business, though, Reebok’s chairman, Paul Fireman, passed over Mr. Perdue for promotion to the company’s No. 2 job.”
  • “In December 2001, the company announced that Mr. Perdue, who as head of the Reebok brand had reported directly to Mr. Fireman, would instead report to Jay Margolis, who had formerly headed other brands for the company but was suddenly named chief operating officer.”
  • “Mr. Margolis says that he and Mr. Fireman actually pushed out Mr. Perdue, who has characterized his departure from Reebok as voluntary. “I look back on David. He couldn’t make decisions. He was so indecisive, he couldn’t move the product forward,” Mr. Margolis said.”
  • “Leaving behind what he would later describe as $5 million worth of “in-the-money unvested” Reebok stock options, Mr. Perdue agreed in spring 2002 to take the job as chief executive of Pillowtex.”
  • “The company was just emerging from bankruptcy, and thousands of workers at its home base in Kannapolis, N.C., viewed Mr. Perdue as a potential savior, according to Scott Shimizu, a former executive vice president. Looking back, though, Mr. Shimizu said he believed Mr. Perdue’s inaction led to the company’s demise.”
  • “The company needed to sell off assets quickly and outsource production to survive — with the possibility of retaining part of its United States work force — but Mr. Shimizu says Mr. Perdue took few steps to do either.”
  • ““He didn’t really help us,” said Mr. Shimizu. “We were waiting for him to bring the Ten Commandments to us. They never came.””
  • “He became embroiled in a dispute with Pillowtex over its failure to live up to the compensation agreement he had negotiated. The company imploded, and about 7,650 people lost their jobs, most of them in North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer called it the largest mass layoff in state history.”
  • “As chief executive, Mr. Perdue oversaw the opening of a Hong Kong office in 2004, increasing the “global sourcing” that “helps to provide the low everyday price our customers count on,” according to a company announcement. Among the global sources were manufacturers in China, records show.”
  • “Former colleagues who visited Mr. Perdue at the company’s Tennessee headquarters said it was apparent he was preparing Dollar General for acquisition. In 2007, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company announced it would purchase Dollar General for about $7 billion. It was later reported that Mr. Perdue walked away with a $42 million payout.”
  • “Mr. Perdue has said little about his own China ties. In 1991, the year before he headed to Hong Kong to build Sara Lee’s Asian outsourcing operation “from the ground up,” the company proudly announced a new foothold in Asia — a deal in Fuzhou, China.”
  • “The joint venture, Fujian Sara Lee Consumer Products, manufactured toothpaste, shampoo and other personal care products. It was partially owned by the Chinese government, according to a report in The Chicago Tribune announcing the venture.”
  • “As the Fujian arrangement continued, Mr. Perdue busied himself with building Sara Lee’s first centralized sourcing operation in Asia, including in mainland China, he said in a deposition in 2005. That involved lining up suppliers and overseeing quality control and human rights practices for the company, which manufactured Hanes clothing, among other things.”
  • “No American firm could have established such an operation in China at that time without dealing extensively with the government or the Communist Party, industry experts said.”
  • ““You don’t just wander into China without central government and local party officials wanting to know what you’re doing,” said Michael Posner, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a top human rights official during the Obama administration. “It’s a very controlled environment. And anybody there who is dealing with factories would have had to deal with that.””
  • “This week, The Times asked Mr. Perdue’s campaign if he had any other business involving the Chinese government. The campaign declined to answer.”

###

Other News from DPG

Questions? Tips? Call anytime.

Georgia Voter Protection Line

1-888-730-5816

English extension 1, Español extension 2, 한국어 extension 3, हिन्दी/اردو extension 4, 中文 extension 5, Tiếng Việt extension 6

Democratic Party of Georgia

Help us elect Democrats in Georgia.