NEW YORK — Calling it “inappropriate for politicians to interfere with management-labor negotiations,” Leslie Fay officials have declined an offer to testify at Congressional hearings today over the firm’s proposed plant closings.
The hearing of the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Labor-Management Relations is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Darte Arts Center at Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where Leslie Fay has its main production and shipping facilities.
Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D., Pa.), who represents the district, spearheaded the call for the special field hearing, which he said will focus on the reasons surrounding the proposed shutdown of Leslie Fay production facilities in the area in favor of importing.
Kanjorksi said the subcommittee will explore how this action will affect the economy in northeastern Pennsylvania, and how the reasons for this shutdown parallels other decisions by the textile industry to move plants outside the U.S.
“It is unfortunate that The Leslie Fay Co[s]. will not be represented at the hearing,” Kanjorski said. “It is an important hearing and the matters we will be discussing are serious and will have a dramatic impact on 1,200 area workers. I regret that its management has rejected an opportunity to participate in this forum.”
A Leslie Fay spokesman said the politicians are “turning a contract negotiation into a political event,” which is “not going to result in anything.” The hearings come as the strike between the ILGWU and Leslie Fay completes its first week.
At the root of the strike is the proposed plant closing, which the Leslie Fay spokesman reiterated Monday was brought about because “we can’t afford to produce goods domestically at competitive prices.”
According to Kanjorski’s office, on the top of the witness list for the hearings is Jennifer Hillman, U.S. Chief Textile Negotiator, who Kanjorski said will appear at the request of U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. Labor Secretary Robert Reich will be represented by Andrew Samet, associate deputy undersecretary for international labor affairs.
Rep. Ron Klink (D., Pa.), a member of the House labor-management committee, will chair the hearing, and Rep. Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Paul McHale (D., Pa.) and U.S. Delegate Carlos Romero-Barcelo a Democrat from Puerto Rico, are expected to participate.
Other witnesses scheduled to testify include Andrew T. Greenberg, Pennsylvania Secretary of Commerce; Irwin Kahn, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Jay Mazur, president of the ILGWU; Leslie Fay union employees Jack Granahan and Pearl Novak; Dorka Diaz Lopez, a Honduran apparel worker, and Flor de Maria Alquero de Laparra of the Guatemalan Apparel Workers Union.