By  on June 2, 1994

NEW YORK -- The ILGWU launched a full-scale strike against The Leslie Fay Cos. Wednesday morning.

Susan Cowell, a vice president of the union, said about 2,000 Leslie Fay workers in five states, with the largest contingent at several facilities in the Wilkes-Barre area of eastern Pennsylvania, have gone on strike and are conducting "spirited picketing," with no violence reported. The strike comes after two months of stormy contract negotiations in which Leslie Fay's proposal to shut down its U.S. production was the main issue. Domestic production, the company says, accounts for 28 percent of its business.The old contract with the union expired at midnight Tuesday, and no further meetings are scheduled.

In addition to the sites in Pennsylvania, picket lines are out at a Leslie Fay distribution center in Secaucus, N.J.; a warehouse in Morrow, Ga.; a contract cutting room in Hialeah, Fla., and at the executive offices and sample room at 1400 Broadway here. A contractor used by Leslie Fay, North American Knitting in Mansfield, Ohio, was also struck.

"We're prepared for a long strike, but we would like it to be over as soon as possible," Cowell said. "We certainly didn't want to strike, but we simply couldn't let them get away with the things they wanted to do."

Cowell said except for a report of one worker crossing the picket line, there is "full worker support for the strike action." She also said the ILGWU was getting support in its action from Teamster drivers, and said that to her knowledge, "no scabs have been hired."

Leslie Fay officials said that all its facilities were open Wednesday and will continue to operate for the duration of the strike with supervisors, replacement personnel and any workers who wish to continue to work. But a Leslie Fay spokesman added it is a slow period for actual production, and the main plant in Wilkes-Barre was not attempting to produce goods Wednesday in view of the strike.

"Our key concern right now is getting trucks in and out of the distribution center because it is a fairly busy time for shipping early fall goods," he said. "We are shipping goods today and expect to continue to have that ability. If we have to, we will just close the production plant, which is what we said we want to do anyway."

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