By  on June 14, 1994

NEW YORK -- Despite a turbulent two weeks, officials of The Leslie Fay Cos. insist that the strike against their company by the ILGWU has not and will not hurt the firm.

Joel Cohen, an outside labor council to Leslie Fay, said the strike has had "absolutely no impact on its business," either from a production or shipping point of view.

"Let's just say we were prepared for the worst once our proposal to close the [U.S.] plants was put on the table, and nothing happened that came as a surprise," Cohen said.

The main issue in the strike is the company's proposal to shut its U.S. production facilities in favor of more overseas sourcing, a move that would mean a loss of 1,200 factory jobs. In just the last week or so, the controversy has precipitated:

  • A field hearing of the House subcommittee on labor-management relations.
  • The largest union rally in the garment district since 1958, when an industrywide strike was called.
  • A campaign by the union for a consumer boycott against Leslie Fay products, and union leafleting in front of 20 Saks Fifth Avenue stores across the country.
  • Participation in the boycott by the 13.3-million-member AFL-CIO.
  • The announcement by North American Knitting Mills Co., a Mansfield, Ohio, contractor for Leslie Fay, that it intends to close down on Aug. 15.
In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission said it understood the need for it to "conclude its investigation involving The Leslie Fay Cos. as expeditiously as possible." The SEC probe was prompted by the massive accounting scandal that was disclosed by the firm in February 1993 and that led to its Chapter 11 filing two months later.

Explaining the company's point of view, Cohen said: "The sewing factories in Pennsylvania are closed today not by our decision, but by the union's decision to go on strike. However, those are dress factories that we have said before lose money because of the high costs associated with manufacturing there. Since it is our intention to not do work there, we're not crying over it nor is it having any impact whatsoever."

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