• 68°

New Era closing Jackson plant, Demopolis plant future uncertain

New Era Cap Co., Major League Baseball’s official cap supplier, is consolidating its U.S. manufacturing operations from three plants into one, putting the future of one of Demopolis’ largest employers in limbo.

The Buffalo-based hat manufacturer announced its intent Thursday of shutting down its 322-employee Jackson, Ala., facility by February 2010.

Company Spokesman Paul Gallagher said a decision on which of the other two plants will be closed – either Demopolis or Derby, N.Y. – will come after discussions with the workers’ union.

Officials with the Communications Workers of America – the union representing both plants – are expected to immediately begin discussions with New Era management on the future of the Derby and Demopolis operations.

The Demopolis plant employes 350 citizens and there are 334 employees in Derby, near Buffalo.

That plant will be closed in the second quarter of 2010, along with a distribution center in Mobile, which has 70 workers.

Gallagher said Thursday that there hasn’t been enough consumer demand during the recession to keep three U.S. plants going and that productivity, seniority, efficiency and geographic location would factor into the decision on which plant to save.