Team USA gear wasn't always made in China

NewsChannel 15's report about the Team USA Olympic uniforms being made in China touched a nerve with many people in our area.

That includes a Surfside Beach man who volunteered to work at the 1984 summer Olympic games.

Tom Palmieri saved a lot of souvenirs from that experience and not a one of those items has a label that says "Made in China."

Palmieri was an AT&T employee back then. He was part of the communications team participating in the Olympic torch run to Los Angeles, which hosted the games that year.

So when Palmieri saw NewsChannel 15's report Thursday about this year's Team USA outfits being made in China, he headed straight to his closet and pulled out the Olympic clothing he had saved from '84.

"Looked at the tags, and sure enough, they said, 'Made in the USA,' " Palmieri said.

The T-shirt, sport shirts and jacket all carry that same patriotic tag.

Palmieri is disappointed that this year's USA team will be decked out in uniforms made overseas.

"For an American team participating in an international event, I was very bewildered to learn that our team was wearing clothing that was not made in America, not made in the USA."

Levi's, an iconic American brand, provided the clothing worn by volunteers back in '84, but Palmieri said it wasn't just the shirts. Practically everything associated with Team USA that year had an American label.

"General Motors provided the vehicles, AT&T obviously provided the people in communications and the torch was American, so it was a very American event," he said.

Today, Levi's makes most of its clothing in places like Haiti, according to an organization that tracks outsourcing by American companies.

Palmieri believes this year's U.S. Olympic committee could have found an American company, with American workers, to manufacture their uniforms, if they had tried a little harder.

"It was surprising to me that they didn't reach out and locate and source Made in USA apparel," Palmieri said.

But at least a few American athletes will wear clothing manufactured in this country. The rowing team will wear "unisuits" made by a company based in Philadelphia.