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Union Won’t Take Leslie Fay U.S. Shutdown Without Fight

NEW YORK -- The ILGWU is considering "a whole range of possible activities," including calling a boycott, to fight The Leslie Fay Cos.' proposal to shut down its domestic manufacturing plants, Susan Cowell, a union vice president, said...

NEW YORK — The ILGWU is considering “a whole range of possible activities,” including calling a boycott, to fight The Leslie Fay Cos.’ proposal to shut down its domestic manufacturing plants, Susan Cowell, a union vice president, said Thursday.

Leslie Fay, as reported, said Wednesday that as part of its cost-cutting measures to pull itself out of Chapter 11, it was proposing to shut down its U.S. production. The move would affect about 1,200 workers.

Cowell was elaborating on a statement released Thursday by Jay Mazur, ILGWU president, who said the union “will pursue every resource at its command to prevent this catastrophe.”

Mazur said Leslie Fay has declared war on its workers as a “smokescreen to divert attention from the true causes of the company’s current financial problems: its own mismanagement and misdeeds.”

Cowell also responded to Leslie Fay’s claim that the liquidated damages it pays to the union as a fee on imports were illegal, saying the charge “was clearly a smokescreen” and that the practice had been in effect since 1926 and had been upheld in court.

In announcing the proposed shutdown, Leslie Fay suggested that these fees be used to retrain workers who would lose their jobs.

A Leslie Fay spokesman said the company declined comment on the union’s attack on management, reiterating only that if the facilities close, the company would work with the union and the communities involved to retrain workers.

Mazur said if Leslie Fay succeeds in shutting all its U.S. production, “it would destroy the company” because its future depends not on an “endless pursuit of cheap labor,” but on being able to respond quickly to the needs of retailers and being able to offer the consumer quality.