NEW YORK -- The ILGWU will launch a nationwide call today for a consumer boycott of Leslie Fay products and the stores that carry them, with Saks Fifth Avenue as the first target.
The union, in the second week of a strike against The Leslie Fay Cos. after failing to reach a new contract on May 31, said Wednesday it will leaflet 20 Saks stores across the country, including the Fifth Avenue flagship here. The two sides are at odds over the company's plan to shut its U.S. production in favor of imports, a move Leslie Fay says will make it more competitive on price.
Susan Cowell, an ILGWU vice president, declined to specify why Saks was chosen as the first target. She noted Saks was one of 56 retailers sent letters last week by the union asking them to "refrain from selling Leslie Fay products," and that the stores did not respond to the letter.
Saks said Wednesday that its "practice is to remain neutral in labor disputes of other companies....Saks' position is to let its buying be dictated solely by the demands of its customers." Saks carries Leslie Fay's Kasper, Nolan Miller and Albert Nipon Suits labels.
A Leslie Fay spokesman said, "A boycott is counterproductive to the collective bargaining process and just creates more economic hardship for ILGWU members....The company is struggling to get out of Chapter 11, and any loss of business could potentially mean losing more jobs than the 1,200 factory workers."
Leafleting is to start at Saks here at 11:30 a.m., followed by a rally in front of Leslie Fay's corporate offices at 1400 Broadway. At the rally, Thomas Donahue, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, is expected to announce that the national labor group will participate in the boycott. In addition, a striker delegation has a meeting scheduled with John Cardinal O'Connor. A spokeswoman for the Cardinal could not say whether he would make any statement of support.
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