House Committee Approves Measure That Threatens Manufacturers’ Proprietary Business Information

Increased Disclosure of Early Warning Information May Harm Tire Makers in U.S

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 28, 2010 - A House committee approved legislation this week that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make public more information that is reported to the agency by automobile, tire and automotive parts manufacturers.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) voiced a number of concerns with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, HR 5381. The group has voiced similar concerns with a companion measure in the Senate, S 3302.

“RMA strongly supports and our members fully comply with the current early warning reporting system to provide federal safety regulators with information to help enhance motorist safety,” said Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “However, RMA and its members are very concerned that this bill may result in NHTSA disclosing critical business information that will cause competitive harm to manufacturers in the U.S.”

A 2000 federal law mandated NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting System. Automotive industry manufacturers are required to report substantial amounts of production and performance data and consumer claims to the agency to assist federal safety officials with identifying potential safety issues. Consumer claims regarding fatalities, injuries and property damage claims are currently made public on NHTSA’s web site.

When NHTSA created the Early Warning Reporting System, it also created categories of information that would be protected from public disclosure as confidential business information. For tire manufacturers, this included production data, warranty claims and common green tires, which are tires that have not been cured.

“NHTSA conducted a rigorous process using strict Freedom of Information Act principles to develop a federal regulation that balanced public disclose of some early warning information with the need to protect some critical business data it receives each quarter from manufacturers,” Cannon said.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act also includes a mandate requiring a brake override system in vehicles to help prevent the possibility of sudden unintended acceleration. Additionally, the measure gives NHTSA the authority to declare that a vehicle, tire or automotive part presents an “imminent hazard” to motorist safety. Such a declaration would allow the agency to impose a range of remedies to force manufacturers to address a potential safety issue.

The bill also boosts federal penalties on manufacturers for safety-related issues to a maximum of $200 million. The House version would allow individuals to sue the agency if they disagree with an agency determination in answering a petition to investigate a possible vehicle defect.

“Permitting lawsuits to overturn NHTSA’s thorough investigation of potential safety issues would force the agency to divert critical resources to redundant tasks and legal defenses to answer likely lawsuit challenges to defect petition decisions,” Cannon said.

The House bill is expected to go to the House floor in the coming weeks. A Senate committee is expected to consider its version of the bill in early June.

“We will continue to engage with legislators and work toward a reasonable solution that enhances motorist safety while addressing the risk to RMA members’ competitive business information posed by this bill,” Cannon said.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

Rubber Manufacturers Association to Restructure

Tire, Elastomer Products Group (EPG) to Become Separate Organizations

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 19, 2010 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association’s Board of Directors has approved a plan to restructure the organization to better serve the interests of its membership.

The restructuring will result in two separate organizations – one that represents tire manufacturers and one to serve the needs of elastomer products manufacturers.

Each organization will be an independent 501(c)(6) trade association with its own board of directors, officers, budget and management.

The tire organization will retain the Rubber Manufacturers Association name and remain in the Washington, D.C. office. The new elastomer products group will adopt a new name and will be headquartered in the Midwest.

“The new elastomer products group will have greater opportunity to provide services that meets the needs of small to medium-sized rubber manufacturers and their suppliers, while operating in a lower cost environment,” said Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “The focus will be on communication, member services, networking, and technical support.

“RMA will focus its resources on the U.S. tire manufacturing sector which continues to face a number of public policy challenges specific to this sector,” Cannon said. “Meanwhile, EPG executives will be able to focus on re-establishing an entity that will be uniquely designed to focus solely on EPG companies with greater flexibility for growth and a reduced cost model.

The executive leadership of both sectors are dedicated to maintaining a cooperative relationship for issues of mutual concern.

To begin the process toward creating the new elastomer product manufacturer organizations, a June 9 meeting has been scheduled in Fairlawn, Ohio for all interested companies to attend.

This initial meeting will feature a number of presentations focusing on potential objectives for a new organization, practical business-related topics and will provide a networking opportunity for elastomer product manufacturer executives. Veyance Technologies, a current EPG member of RMA, is hosting the conference.

“This initial event will be an opportunity to educate current EPG members and potential new members about the prospects for a new organization that can better focus on the needs of elastomer products manufacturers,” Cannon said. “We are confident that companies will be able to establish a new organization that will deliver improved value and more focused services.”

All companies interested in attending – both current EPG members and non-members – should contact Jenny Taylor at (317) 863-4072.

RMA Awards Industry For Achievements in Worker Safety

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 4, 2010 - Fifty-five tire and rubber manufacturing facilities are being recognized for improvements in worker health and safety.

RMA’s Safety and Health Improvement Program (SHIP), created in 1981, recognizes member companies that achieve significant enhancements in worker health and safety with awards.

Two categories of awards are presented to companies that demonstrate workplace safety improvements, which are measured by the incidence rate for lost workday cases. The “Excellence” category is for facilities that achieve an incidence rate that is 75 percent better than the average achieved by plants that provided data to RMA.

The “Improvement” award is for plants that achieve an incidence rate that is both 10 percent better than its rate in the previous year and the same or better than the RMA average incidence rate.

One hundred thirteen plants from twenty-eight RMA member companies supplied data for the annual survey to determine the extent of workplace safety improvements. The data supplied to RMA is identical to information provided to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes injury and illness information on all industries.

Click here to view the winners by plant category and award type.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.