Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne Inc. has alerted its nonunion employees of a contingency plan in case its union employees strike next month.
In an internal memo obtained by WWD Monday, Jorge Figueredo, Claiborne’s senior vice president of human resources, outlined to nonunion employees in New York and New Jersey special operating procedures in case of a strike, including suspension of vacations, modified work assignments and summer hours.
Claiborne is currently negotiating separately with UNITE over a contract that expires May 31.
According to the memo, three areas in which Claiborne is asking nonunion employees for support are:
Vacation suspension: “To ensure associates are present and available in the event of a strike, we are forced to suspend vacations from May 12 through June 30…We realize this is a tremendous hardship on all of you. However, no one can predict whether a strike will occur or how long it will last. And if a strike does occur, we will need everyone’s help to meet our business obligations.”
Modified work assignments: “In the event of labor stoppage, all associates — both management and nonmanagement, regardless of title — will be assigned to perform additional and/or modified work. This may involve working in the warehouse or assisting associates who are working in the warehouse with their regular duties. A schedule is currently being developed.”
Summer hours: “Because of the possibility of a strike, there will be no summer hours. Please consider this a temporary suspension.”
According to the memo, the contract covers associates at the headquarters; at Liz I and Liz III distribution centers in Secaucus and Moonachie, N.J., respectively, and preproduction sample and cutting areas in New York and New Jersey. Claiborne is also negotiating contracts at its outlying distribution centers; current agreements expire at the end of May, June and August.
Claiborne released a statement Monday that said, “Liz Claiborne Inc. has always worked constructively with the union and we are optimistic that we can reach an agreement that is fair to our employees, our customers and our shareholders. However, in order to meet our obligations to customers and consumers, we would be prepared for any contingency.”
Edgar Romney, executive vice president of UNITE, who is leading the negotiations with Liz Claiborne, said, “We are in negotiation, and talk of a strike is not appropriate.”

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