Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


New Era responds to loss of UW deal, human abuse allegations

New Era Cap Company responded Monday to allegations of human
rights abuses at its plant in Mobile, Ala., in the wake of University of
Wisconsin severing its licensing contract with the hat manufacturer.

According to a statement by New Era, the apparel company
held a rally at its Derby, N.Y. production facility attended by a crowd of more
than 500 employees ?to demonstrate that New Era ? promotes and pays its people

The rally was held just three days after UW canceled its
contract with the company.


Dana Marciniak, New Era?s corporate communications manager,
said the news of UW?s termination of the contract has come as a surprise.
According to Marciniak, New Era has not received word from UW the university
was considering dropping the contract.

?They didn?t give us any notification yet,? Marciniak said.
?We?re finding out through the media.?

Chancellor John Wiley?s office announced Friday the
university was terminating the contract with New Era to the UW Labor Licensing
Policy Committee following a presentation by Chynna Haas of the Student Labor
Action Coalition.

Haas visited with workers at the Mobile plant earlier this

?Their concerns focused on racial discrimination in the
workplace and with promotions,? she said.

Haas said the majority of workers are black women who are
regularly passed up for promotions in favor of white employees, even if they
are more qualified.

?Sometimes they are having to train the white individuals
that are promoted because they aren?t qualified,? she added.

According to Haas, most employees at the Mobile plant are
making between $8 and $9 per hour, which she says is not enough to support a
family in the region.

?You?re making much more money if you walk in as a white
employee,? Haas said.

According to Haas, employees in the Mobile plant are forced
to work overtime and are subject to an overly strict seven-point system for
their attendance that gives employees points for arriving to work late or
missing work altogether. Once employees reach seven points, they are fired.

UW sophomore Jan Van Tol, a member of UW Labor Licensing
Policy Committee, said UW is exercising the ?no cause? clause in the contract,
but he said he would prefer if UW claimed a ?breach of contract.?

?It would?ve been better if the university had terminated
the contract because of human rights abuses,? Van Tol. ?As a public university,
we should make a moral stand.?

Marciniak said New Era is ?not in breach of any contract?
and is ?absolutely not? engaging in any racist practices.

According to Marciniak, the Mobile plant currently has three
black floor supervisors out of eight to twelve total supervisory positions. She
added 39 percent of management in all three production facilities is black.

In addition, Marciniak said New Era pays its workers in
Mobile a median wage of $10 per hour. The Economic Research Institute,
Marciniak added, says the wage is on par with other similar positions in the

Marciniak said New Era requested an economic proposal
dealing with pay from the local Teamsters union in early January as an effort
to work cooperatively with the union. New Era has not received a response, she

Addressing the seven-point attendance system, Marciniak said
it is a fair system to keep the plant operating efficiently. Employees can talk
with management if they have a legitimate reason to get the point erased. She
added the point disappears after a month if the employee does not have any
other incidents.

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