“We’ve Got Your Back” - Unionists & Elected Officials Tell New Era Cap Workers As Those Concerned Rally Outside Derby Manufacturing Facility In A Continued Effort To ‘Put Pressure On’ The Company To Change Its Plant Closing Decision
(DERBY, NEW YORK) – While it may be considered an uphill battle at this point, Unionists and Elected Officials who rallied outside the New Era Cap Company’s Derby Manufacturing Facility on Wednesday (January 9th) afternoon delivered a message to New Era Workers who’d just walked out of the plant as their shift ended: “We’ve got your back.”
The Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) sponsored rally drew representatives from a number of Buffalo area Unions and community groups, who huddled in very cold temperatures in a parking lot located across from the plant just south of Buffalo to deliver a message to not only New Era, but to its owners, that all would hold the Koch Family accountable for their decision that will negatively impact around 200 Workers, the majority of which are represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
“There’s ‘no other reason for this other than to bust the Union,’” WNYALF President Richard Lipsitz (Pictured Below – WNYLaborToday.com Photo) told a heavy horde of local media, while being backed up by more than five dozen concerned Union Representatives and members of several area community groups.
Described as a “shameless act of betrayal and abandonment” on the part of New Era, the speakers said the plant closing “will be devastating not only for the Workers, but also for the Towns of Derby and Evans, and surrounding businesses, whose viability depends on the plant.”
But while many might consider the fight to be an uphill battle since it appears the Koch Family has already told Elected Officials that it has made its final decision, it hasn’t stopped the WNYALF and its Member Unions from leading the charge to turn the situation around.
“‘We will not fold.’ ‘We will continue this struggle to save these jobs,’” Lipsitz pledged.
Representatives from the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the Lakeshore Teachers Association, the Painters Union, Public Employees Federation (PEF), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, and the United University Professions (UUP) were joined by representatives of the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), the Sierra Club, and local Elected Town of Derby and Evans Officials, as well as Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Many held signs that read: Save The Jobs At New Era and Keep Jobs in Derby, New York. But standing out in the crowd was a small boy who held a yellow cardboard cutout of a New Era Cap that featured an American Flag and the words: Save Jobs – Protect Our Future (Pictured Below - WNYLaborToday.com Photo)
As some of the New Era Workers - who those at the rally said have been forbade by New Era to talk to speak publicly about the plant closing - walked by to get to their cars, County Executive Poloncarz said: “What I would like to say to the Workers, ‘who can’t say anything’ - ‘We’ve got your back.’”
Just before Thanksgiving, New Era - the world-renowned maker of professional sports caps - announced that it would close its manufacturing plant in March (2019) in Derby, which will result in the layoff of the 200 Workers.
New Era will move the Western New York operation to Miami, where the work will be done by Non-Union Workers.
Organized Labor and a number of community groups held a rally in mid-December outside New Era’s gleaming Downtown Buffalo Headquarters, delivering a similar message which those who spoke during Wednesday’s news conference that was held in conjunction with the rally in cold temps and a biting wind repeated (Read WNYLaborToday.com’s December 11th Labor News Report, Headlined: “This Is Nothing More Than Union Busting” - Joined By Clergy & Elected Officials, WNY Labor Leaders ‘Pledge Effort’ To Keep 200 Good-Paying New Era Cap Manufacturing Jobs In The Town Of Derby - www.wnylabortoday.com/news/2018/12/11/buffalo-and-western-new-york-labor-news/this-is-nothing-more-than-union-busting-joined-by-clergy-elected-officials-wny-labor-leaders-pledge-effort-to-keep-200-good-paying-new-era-cap-manufacturing-jobs-in-the-town-of-derby/).
All criticized New Era for the decision not to negotiate with the CWA, whose Members stitch the logos that appear on the company’s hats. The hats themselves are made off-shore, County Executive Poloncarz said as he flung - one by one - three New Era hats he held in his hands while shouting out where they were made, including China.
According to WNYALF President Lipsitz, a majority of the Unionized New Era Workers are refugees from Burma and Vietnam, who came to the United States “for a better life.” And those Workers live either in close proximity to the Derby plant – an estimated 140, while another 60 on Buffalo’s West Side, he said.
County Executive Poloncarz quickly injected that “that’s why” these New Era Worker came to the United States, after witnessing their fellow Workers in Burma and Vietnam employed in American off-shore clothing manufacturing being paid about “$145 a month” for their hard work.
“(The Koch Family) ‘doesn’t want to talk about their decision, so we’re doing what we can to put pressure on them to keep this plant here in Derby and assure their Workers will still have a home in Derby,’” he said.
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: For More On This Labor News Story, Read WNYLaborToday.com’s November 13th Labor News Report, Headlined: The ‘Last’ Unionized New Era Cap Company Manufacturing Facility In The U.S. Will Close In March 2019, Impacting 192 CWA-Represented Workers Just South Of Buffalo.