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MLBPA Calls on New Era to Keep Union Plant Open

The union is using their clout to push the cap maker to reconsider closing their only union plant

Posted on
Feb 22, 2019

The MLBPA is stepping up to protect union jobs at the New Era Cap factory outside of Buffalo NY. Read more below from The Buffalo News.

The union representing Major League Baseball players is urging the company that makes the caps its members wear to reconsider its plan to shut its factory in Derby next month.

The shutdown of the New Era Cap Co. plant in Derby would put more than 200 workers out of a job as the company shifts production of the hats it makes for Major League Baseball players to  Florida and other cap production to third-party manufacturers in places like China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Haiti, where wages are much lower than they are in Derby.

The Major League Players Association issued a statement on Thursday urging New Era to keep the Derby plant open.

"It has always been a source of great pride for players to wear the highest-quality, union-made caps produced by the New Era workers in Derby," the union said. "The MLBPA urges New Era to reconsider its decision, which will cause economic harm, not just to the dedicated workers who manufacture the caps and to their families, but also to the town of Derby, which has supported the company for nearly 60 years."

But neither the company, nor its customer, Major League Baseball, offered any hope Thursday that the plant would stay open.

The statement by the players union comes three days after Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle tweeted his support for the Derby workers. Doolittle's tweets prompted national media, including NBCSports.com and Yahoo Sports, to write about the impending Derby plant shutdown and drew national attention other athletes and politicians. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wrote to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred this week, urging him to try to save the Derby plant.

“The bottom line is that Major League Baseball caps of our national pastime should continue to be made by experienced, loyal and talented union workers in Western New York, USA. I continue to urge New Era to reconsider this ill-conceived move that is pennywise and pound foolish and will leave 200 productive union workers out of a job,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

The players union STATEMENT also caught the eye of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who tweeted "New Era makes $ at its Derby facility, so thanks for standing up to this union busting effort."

New Era, a Buffalo-based company owned by the Koch family, announced in November that it would close the Derby factory. It reached a severance package agreement last week with the Communication Workers of America, the union that represents most of the company’s workers in Derby.

"New Era is one of the last companies in its industry to own and operate manufacturing plants," the company said in a statement Thursday. "New Era’s decision to close the Derby plant is not about chasing lower, ‘non-union’ wages, as has been erroneously reported in the media. The decision reflects a fundamental shift in the company’s business model."

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