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February 14, 2019

Workers at US production sites strike over “unfair labour practices”

By Hannah Abdulla

Garment manufacturers at two US factories are striking over what they claim are unfair labour practices.

More than 450 workers at the W. Diamond Corp factory in Illinois and Keystone Tailored Manufacturing site in Ohio are involved in the strike action. Both corporations are owned and managed by the same group of owners. The factories produce Hart, Schaffner and Marx men’s suits.

According to the Workers United union, they are striking in protest of the company’s unlawful behaviour throughout negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Local press reports suggest talks broke down over severance negotiations.

W. Diamond Corp received a tax abatement from Cook County for the next ten years, and allegedly, promised to create and keep jobs in Cook County. On the other hand, Keystone Tailored Manufacturing received a jobs grant for US$150,000 from the city of Brooklyn. 

The Keystone plant is due to close in March, endangering – it is understood – some 140 jobs. Production is reportedly being shifted to Canada.

“This employer has lied to the Union, has lied about the Union, has lied to our members, and is lying to the community,” said Kathy Hanshew, manager of CMRJB and international vice-president of Workers United. “A local at the heart of the labour movement in Chicago deserves better. Hart, Schaffner & Marx suits have been made in Cook County for over 131 years”.

W. Diamond Corp. could not be reached for comment and Keystone did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.

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