Workers hope union helps conditions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Workers at New Era Cap Co. hope a recent vote to unionize will result in better benefits and higher pay.

The Demopolis plant, which voted 202-66 last week to unionize, makes hats for Major League Baseball and others.

Velma Davis, a five-year veteran with the company, said she hopes the vote will eventually mean a better pay scale for employees.

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One of those benefits, workers say, would be the elimination of a points-based system currently used to monitor unscheduled days off and disciplinary problems. Another potential goal: Moving workers to a steady hourly wage instead of paying &8220;per run&8221; completed.

The vote allows the Communications Workers of America to begin negotiating a contract with New Era, which is based in Buffalo, N.Y. The union represents employees at a New Era factory in Derby, N.Y.

The company remained neutral on its stance about its workers voting whether to unionize. That decision was based on an agreement struck with the Teamsters when that union was looking to organize New Era&8217;s Mobile plant.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People criticized the company for its treatment of workers in Mobile and its behavior while the Teamsters tried to organize that plant.

Jemison said she would like to see the union organize as quickly as possible, in order to begin effecting change quicker.

But that may not happen as quickly as some would like. Under New Era&8217;s agreement with the unions, the company&8217;s Jackson plant will be organized by the Teamsters. If the Teamsters win election in Jackson, the two unions can bargain jointly.

A delay would make it less likely that the unions can bargain together, weakening their position.

Information in this report was gathered from The Press-Register.