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Demopolis workers at New Era to get good severance package

New Era Cap Co. and the local chapter of the Communications Workers of America have agreed upon the conditions of severance for the workers at the company’s Demopolis plant.

New Era spokesperson Paul Gallagher said the severance package was comparable to what the company’s workers at the Jackson, Ala., facility received.

“We’ve met with the union, and we’ve agreed upon the bargaining effects,” said New Era spokesperson Paul Gallagher. “The package that the workers will receive is very similar to what the employees in Jackson got, which is between four and 12 weeks of severance pay, depending on seniority. They get a six-month extension of their health benefits, and they still make the same contribution that they would normally from their paychecks.

“And, as we’ve done in Jackson, we are setting aside up to $1,000 per worker for use towards education or job training classes — primarily to the community college, but for any other sort of accredited institution. Actually, that’s more than what the Jackson employees got; we did $500 per employee for Jackson. That’s just how it was negotiated out in Demopolis.”

“Prior to the severance packages being given to the employees, it had to be an agreed-upon severance package between New Era Cap Company and the Communications Workers of America,” said Demopolis plant manager Alvin Williams. “I have to give everyone on both sides credit for sitting down and working through the details to try to provide a settlement that would be in the best interests of all of the employees, and I think that they did just that.

“I think it is a beneficial package that will not only include financial incentives for them, but educational benefits for those who want to go back to school and a good instruction on how to go forward as they move from a transition away from New Era and to whatever their futures may hold.”

On Nov. 18, 2009, the New Era Cap Co. headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y., announced that it would consolidate its three manufacturing plants into one plant. The facility in Jackson closed on Feb. 5.

On Jan. 27, the company announced that it would close its Demopolis facility, consolidating all of its manufacturing into its plant in Derby, N.Y., pending approval of an agreement with the CWA union at the Derby plant, which came on Feb. 2.

Gallagher said on Tuesday that the company is aiming to close the Demopolis plant in the second quarter of the year.

“I think the expectation is that the plant will be closed down by the end of April or the beginning of May,” he said. “But, a lot of that fluctuates on the current inventory levels. Jackson is closed out now, so Demopolis and Derby are maintaining the current supply, and as we get close to spring training, a lot of the demand and the excess inventory balance will all determine how long Demopolis stays open.”