Monday, December 14, 2009

The HTA Make Their Case at the CPSC's Workshops on CPSIA Testing

The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) sent five of their nine Board members to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) workshops this past Thursday and Friday, December 10th and 11th, 2009.

HTA President, Cecilia Leibovitz (VT), HTA Vice President, Dan Marshall (MN), HTA Secretary, Jill Chuckas (CT), HTA Treasurer, Mary Newell (OR), and Board Member, Kate Glynn (MA) represented the 399 members of the Handmade Toy Alliance as active participants at the workshop. In addition, HTA members Paul Bingaman ( -CA) and Randall Hertzler ( - PA) traveled to DC, adding their perspectives as small retail business owners.

Representatives from across the children’s product industry gathered in very crowded rooms, listening to prepared presentations from members of the CPSC staff and participating in roundtable discussions on various implementation issues. “It was remarkable the breadth of groups that attended the workshops,” Leibovitz stated. “It was vividly clear that HTA members are very different from other manufacturers, in terms of both number of employees and style of manufacturing.”

“We repeatedly spoke in the roundtable discussions about the process our members take in their production lines - from sourcing to quality control and everything in between - always emphasizing that small batch manufacturers must be regarded differently than large scale factory manufacturers,” said Marshall.

Clear recognition of this difference was heard in day two, when David Pittle, former CPSC Commissioner (1973-82) and former Senior VP at Consumers Union (1982-2005) stated:
There is something I've heard over the last few days, which I'll never be the same on because it was new to hear it all...and that is the important distinction between large batch manufacturers and small batch manufacturers... The small batch manufacturer...needs a very careful and judicious way of making sure they can do it and survive.
In addition to participation in the CPSC workshops, HTA members presented their petition to CPSC Chair Tenenbaum and Commissioner Adler that included over 24,000 signatures in support of an amendment to the CPSIA. They also got the chance to share their thoughts with Commissioner Adler. “This was just another indication that we (HTA) are being heard loud and clear,” Newell stated. “After participating vigorously in the panel discussions, it was very encouraging to meet Commissioner Adler and help him to see the faces of the folks who are the HTA membership. It was a powerful and meaningful opportunity.”

HTA members also had an opportunity to discuss compliance issues with several representatives from Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and Public Citizen. “It was important for us to show the consumer groups first hand just how much we have in common,” stated Glynn. “HTA is all about children’s product safety and we hope to build an open dialogue with as many consumer groups as possible. We feel that there are many issues that we can be partners on, working together to further all of our interests.”

“Still on the top of the HTA to do list are pushing for a continued stay of enforcement, approval of a component testing rule and encouraging the CPSC to bring problems with the legislation to Congress’ attention,” Chuckas reiterated. “As we have stated many times in the past, we believe in the spirit of the CPSIA, we just want to be sure that small batch manufacturers can continue to survive. After all, we all started in this business to bring safe and unique products to consumers – we just want to keep doing what we love.”

In the photo: CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum, HTA members Kate Glynn, Cecilia Leibovitz, Dan Marshall, Mary Newell, and CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler.

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