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Gibson Guitar Corp. Responds to Federal Raid

Juszkiewicz on Lacey Act: ‘Make it Stronger’

08.25.2011

Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, has written an editorial for The Huffington Post, expressing his thoughts on the Lacey Act.

In a piece titled Repeal the Lacey Act? Hell No, Make It Stronger,” Juszkiewicz wrote: “As a lifelong conservationist, I am distressed that our government is using a law as important as the Lacey Act not to fight illegal logging but to enforce protectionist Indian labor statutes. This use of scarce governmental resources does nothing to further the critical environmental effort to halt global deforestation or to protect American jobs.

“In the wake of the raid some have suggested doing away with the Lacey Act altogether. I don’t believe that is the right answer. Rather than repealing the Lacey Act, we should make it stronger so that limited government enforcement dollars can be devoted to fighting illegal logging and poaching, not bureaucratic fights over international tariff codes. In the coming months, I will be working with Members of Congress and the Administration to do just that. We should create a compliance system so that businesses can know – before they buy wood and other plant products – whether or not they are complying with the Lacey Act.”

Click here to read Juszkiewicz’s full editorial.

Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp., has responded to the August 24 raid of Gibson facilities in Nashville and Memphis by the Federal Government. In a press release, Juszkiewicz said: “Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights. Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of ANY wrong doing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.”

The raids forced Gibson to cease manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day while armed agents executed the search warrants. “Agents seized wood that was Forest Stewardship Council controlled,” Juszkiewicz said. “Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure FSC-certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24 satisfied FSC standards.”

Juszkiewicz believes that the Justice Department is bullying Gibson without filing charges.

“The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.”


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Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, Employees and Musician React to the Federal Raids

Gibson Guitar employees as well as some well-known guitarists have been speaking out about the recent Department of Justice raids.

Gibson Employee Fearful that Government Raids will Effect Jobs.

In his August 25 press conference Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp states: “Over the last two years, we have hired 580 American workers. Just in the last two years. We are one company manufacturing in the United States that’s hiring people, that is succeeding exporting, and yet the government is spending millions of dollars on this issue.”

Randy Ferrell, a final assembly worker at Gibson, says that the raids make him very concerned about lay-offs and that the company may be forced to close its doors because “If they take our wood away and we can’t work our ownership has no choice.”

Guitarist Jimmy Vivino from Late Night With Conan O'Brien also expresses his concerns at the raids, viewing them “like a bad movie where federal marshals stormed the Gibson factory with guns drawn.”

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“SWAT Team” and Gibson Workers

“SWAT Team” and Gibson Workers Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp states: “In two cases we had a SWAT team treating us like drug guys, come in and shut us down. With no notice. And, you know, that’s just wrong. I mean, we’re a business, we’re making guitars. Armed people in SWAT attire is just inappropriate.”

Derek Capron, who does neck prep for Gibson talks about seeing armed agents “treating employees as though they were criminals.”

Gene Cornish of The Rascals says, “they use this wood to make guitars and make music and bring people together. They’re not making guns. I don’t get it. Gibson got screwed in this situation.

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Federal Bureaucracy is Out of hand

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp states: “We feel totally abused. We believe the arrogance of federal power is impacting me, personally, our company, personally, and employees here in Tennessee. And it’s just plain wrong.”

Gibson employee George Mathews says: “Our company has been one of the leaders in the musical industry to use wood that’s certified, that’s been approved by the rain Forest Alliance.”

An angry Sully Erna of Godsmack says: “I’ve never played anything but Gibsons because I believe that they have the highest quality and they are the classiest guitars on the planet. I stand by them 100% as they fight to protect their rights.”

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“Arrogance of Federal power” Impacting Gibson Workers

Federal Bureaucracy is Out of hand Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp states: “It’s a judgment. Do you really want to spend $20 million going after Gibson? Or $20 million dollars elsewhere…there are lots of issues to spend money on. The Federal bureaucracy is just out of hand.”

A tearful employee, Stephen Stought, from Gibson’s parts division says, “I’m getting emotional about it, but it’s our jobs.”

An outraged Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister says he would think that “the Federal government has more important things to do, like stop drugs coming into this country, than harassing a guitar manufacturer. He says that the fact that a musician could fund himself prosecuted is as “ un-American as it gets.”

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Everyone is Criminally Liable

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp states: “According to this law, if you bought a guitar from us and you re-sell it, you are criminally liable…everyone who touches the guitar—the store owner who sells that guitar is criminally liable. And it doesn’t matter if he knew or not. It’s a pretty dangerous precedent in my opinion.”

Derek Prepon, a Gibson employee is concerned because the issue effects ”our vendors…. it’s our distributors, its our customers” and that it’s turned into a “political dog and pony show.”

Lady Antebellum guitarist Jason ‘Slim’ Gambill says: “I think its terrifying for musicians to know that they could be going through an airport and get stopped by a customs agent somewhere overseas and have someone say ‘I’m taking this because it might have potentially something illegal that was, you know, harvested, 60, 80 year ago and I’m taking it because now it’s a protected wood. It doesn’t make sense.”

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American Made

Henry Juszkiewicz says: “It seems to me there’s almost a class warfare…rich vs. poor, big vs. small, democrats vs. republicans…when is someone going to stand up and say, “I’m standing for everyone. I’m for what’s right for America.”

Susan Barry from Gibson’s electronics department is concerned that jobs will go overseas. “Our jobs are gonna end up going overseas, and I think Gibson is a piece of American history and the way things are going with the government, picking on us, it
Is really going to hurt us.”

Guitarist Devon Allman says: “It’s very important we keep Les Pauls and Gibsons made in America. Its an American company and America, after all, is where the blues and rock and roll were born, its where electric guitars were born.”

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Unjust Actions by Government

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp. states: “It’s unjust. It’s unfair. Potentially, it’s illegal. We did nothing wrong.”

Gibson employee George Mathews says: “All the wood that we buy from overseas comes in through customs, and customs approves it for entry into the country. But they’ll wait a month, two months before coming here and seize it like that. It kind of makes you fee like a criminal.”

Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson states: “We support Gibson because they are the greatest American-made guitar.”

Lzzy Hale and Joe Hottinger from Halestorm and Jason Marino from Asphalt add their support to Gibson, while Jon Schaffer from Sons of Liberty asks: “How much tyranny will you accept?”

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Jail?

When asked if Gibson will continue to manufacture guitars, CEO Henry Juszkiewicz says: “You might be interviewing me in jail in another hour, so I don’t know.”

Daniel Ross, Gibson employee, thanks Juszkiewicz for standing up against the government because, “not only did he have his own company in mind but he was thinking of the employees.”

Musicians Joshua Bartholomew, Susan Sandberg, Girl in a Coma and Jimmy Lloyd add their support.

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Abuse of One Company

Henry Juszkiewicz, CEO of Gibson Guitar Corp. states: “You don’t abuse one company versus another company. You treat people the same. Apparently, that’s not necessary if you’re the federal government.”

Musicians Josh Charles, Max Feldman, Dave Dargahi of The Postelles and Chris Solberg add their support to Gibson.

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Official Press Release



The Justice department bullies Gibson without filing charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gov’t says wood is illegal if U.S. workers produce it

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.) This action was taken without the support and consent of the government in India.

On August 24, 2011, around 8:45 a.m. CDT, agents for the federal government executed four search warrants on Gibson’s facilities in Nashville and Memphis and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. Gibson had to cease its manufacturing operations and send workers home for the day, while armed agents executed the search warrants. Gibson has fully cooperated with the execution of the search warrants.

• Raid shut down Gibson factories and cost company money
This is the second time that federal agents have raided Gibson facilities and disrupted production – this time causing lost productivity and sales.

• Wood seized was Forest Stewardship Council Controlled
The wood the Government seized on August 24 is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier and is FSC Controlled, meaning that the wood complies with the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, which is an industry-recognized and independent, not-for-profit organization established to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC Controlled Wood standards require, among other things, that the wood not be illegally harvested and not be harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights. See www.fsc.org for more information. Gibson has a long history of supporting sustainable and responsible sources of wood and has worked diligently with entities such as the Rainforest Alliance and Greenpeace to secure FSC certified supplies. The wood seized on August 24 satisfied FSC standards.

• Nearly two years later, no charges have been filed
In 2009, more than a dozen agents with automatic weapons invaded the Gibson factory in Nashville. The Government seized guitars and a substantial amount of ebony fingerboard blanks from Madagascar. To date, 1 year and 9 months later, criminal charges have NOT been filed, yet the Government still holds Gibson’s property. Gibson has obtained sworn statements and documents from the Madagascar government and these materials, which have been filed in federal court, show that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under Madagascar law and that no law has been violated. Gibson is attempting to have its property returned in a civil proceeding that is pending in federal court.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to stop the court case indefinitely.

• Information sought in raid was already made available
Since 2009, Gibson has fully cooperated with the Government’s investigation of wood and has provided substantial documentation regarding Gibson’s wood-buying activities over the years. Yet, the Federal Government raided Gibson’s facilities on August 24, 2011, without warning or communication of any kind. Had the Government simply communicated with Gibson, Gibson would have cooperated without having to stop its production and send workers home.

• Not about illegal logging, not about conservation, not about the environment
The U.S. Lacey Act does not directly address conservation issues but is about obeying all laws of the countries from which wood products are procured. This law reads that you are guilty if you did not observe a law even though you had no knowledge of that law in a foreign country. The U.S. Lacey Act is only applicable when a foreign law has been violated.

• Gibson is innocent and will fight to protect its rights
Gibson has complied with foreign laws and believes it is innocent of ANY wrong doing. We will fight aggressively to prove our innocence.

For more information, please contact:
Henry E. Juszkiewicz
c/o Gibson Guitar Corp.
309 Plus Park Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 871-4500 Extension 2405
www.gibson.com


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