Byline: Michael McNamara

NEW YORK — About 300 Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union members returned to work Monday at 10 dyeing and finishing plants in New Jersey, ending a 15-month dispute.
The battle began in October 1993, when some 1,500 workers went on strike at 21 dyeing and finishing plants in the state. In February 1994, the strikers voted to end their walkout, but only the Silk & Rayon Association, which represents 10 plants, and the lone independent firm, Poughkeepsie Dyeing, accepted the terms of that agreement. The 11 firms have a total of about 750 workers. The dispute continued at the 10 plants represented by another group, CP Associates. Those plants continued to operate with replacement workers.
On Friday, though, the union voted overwhelmingly to accept a settlement with CP Associates for the 300 workers still affected by the disagreement.
The main issue in the negotiations between the union and CP had been the return of all the remaining strikers. Other elements of the settlement, according to the ACTWU, include maintenance of health and pension benefits and an 80-cents-an-hour reduction in wages, 20 cents of which will be restored next December. Under the old contract, the workers received an average of $11.50 an hour.
“We welcome the settlement,” said Luis Ginorio, director of the ACTWU dyers’ division. “The bottom line is that all our members are going back to work.”
“It’s been a long struggle, but we’re happy to come to some agreement,” said Mark Klueger, counsel for CP Associates, declining to comment on specific details of the pact.
John Hudson, ACTWU vice president and New York-New Jersey regional director, said that since the end of the strike, in February 1994, the union and SRA have worked together “to help make the industry more competitive.
“We need to learn how to compete in the global marketplace and keep good jobs like these,” Hudson said.