CLAIBORNE-UNITE CONTRACT INCREASES WAGES

NEW YORK — Liz Claiborne and UNITE reached agreement on a new three-year contract Wednesday that includes substantial wage increases for the 2,000 unionized workers employed by the apparel giant.
The deal, which acts as a guide for industry-wide union contracts established under collective bargaining, includes increases of $1.95 to $2.20 an hour over three years, as well as a new 401K plan with company contributions. The contract also marks the first time an agreement was reached that covers all of Claiborne’s unionized facilities, including those in the U.S. and Canada, said Bruce Raynor, secretary-treasurer of UNITE.
“This agreement will provide workers with enhanced wages and benefits while making it easier for us to meet our business objectives,” said Roberta Schuhalter Karp, vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel for Claiborne. “Union workers have agreed to adopt more flexible hours and practices so that the company can have shifts that will enable us to ship product around the clock.”
That was a key point in negotiating the contract, added Raynor, noting the agreement was made partly in hopes it would eventually contribute to more domestic jobs at Claiborne if the facilities become more productive.
About 1,800 of the workers are employed at distribution centers, and 200 work as cutters and sample makers in facilities in Alabama, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Ontario. Workers will receive raises of $1 or 75 cents an hour for the first year and 60 cents an hour for the second and third years.